Code Generation from Requirements

This article on Domain Specific Languages from Martin Fowler got me thinking on code generation in general. A project I’m working on right now has many opportunities for generating code—not from a domain specific language, but from the requirements documentation and other source information.

I am working on a project now with a very detailed requirements document. For instance, practically all of the strings shown to the user are in there. Since the project uses string resources, there’s no reason to manually copy and paste—the string resource is easily generated from the document.

The project also has a lot of images.  And images are associated with each other (some images are the small version of another, or meant to be the same object but from another angle). Luckily, the artist used a directory and naming convention that makes these associations easy to figure out, and generate an XML resource descriptor and object building code from.

Tying together this information (each image has a string descriptor) is also easy, given the detail in the document and the naming convention.

Actual logical code generation is almost possible as well, as the project is a kind of complicated finite state machine. In this case the document doesn’t go far enough to be a source. A Domain Specific Language might help here, and leaves me with source that might be able to be maintained more easily that a Java representation.

This brings up a good lesson for those writing requirements, even if you don’t know how to program. If you follow conventions closely, it might be a good starting point for generating code.