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A more declarative approach to developing web systems using a higher level programming language



In this paper, we will introduce a standard for a declarative programming language that aims to automate & consolidate web systems & associated architectures into one language. Our project aims to make a new language that solves the problem of converting business requirements into code by designing a declarative syntax that allows a modular architecture approach to programming thus greatly reducing the amount of programming required for new systems.


Most modern web systems in business are transaction processing systems, involving millions of millions of data transactions every day. Their primary goal is to recieve requests (transactions), and process the transaction based on the type and data it contains. In web systems, there are often 2 broad types of transactions: queries and mutations. Queries request information without modifying any state, while mutations request a change in information and then often return the modified state. In virtually all transactions, many layers of data mapping would often occur. For example, if a user requests their own data, the transaction request should erase private data such as password and admin related fields. When the user edits their personal details, those details must be mapped into the existing data. When another user views the current user’s profile, they might receive a different model too, with more fields stripped. All this data mapping and abstraction often adds a lot of development complexity, resulting in simple user stories becoming hundreds of lines of code. Eventually this builds up to millions of lines of code that all needs to be managed and maintained - and this happens across thousands of businesses worldwide. To combat this, we are proposing a solution to unify all of these abstraction levels into a single system that is not only easy to work with, but also applicable to all systems of this nature.

Existing Solutions

Currently, there are no existing solutions that unify all the abstraction levels of a system - however there do exist solutions that work across some of the layers. An example of one of these solutions would be the Prisma library for Javascript, which provides unification across all database management functions into a single, simple to use library. Another example would be tRPC, another Javascript library which provides end-to-end type correction across backend function calls without needing an implementation of a REST interface. What’s common among these solutions as well is that they are already abstracted into separate libraries. Due to the nature of them being libraries, they are still required to be implemented for the system - which generally involves writing thousands of lines of similar code across the thousands of implementations of itself.

Proposed Solution

Our proposed solution to this problem is by creating a generalized web focused domain specific language that allows you to modularize a web system into components. By doing this we hope to assist in speeding up both website design & deployment, in addition to refactoring & maintainability. Through this declarative language simple functionality such as email authentication can be abstracted into a module. This module then be applied to existing models, which would automatically add the relevant fields and functions onto the models. Via this form of encapsulation, we can easily abstract features and functionality into their own modules. Also, we propose field level encapsulation in order to abstract several fields inside a database model into a single virtual field. For instance a password field may have a password hash and password salt linked to it as an underlying logical field. This as a extension can allow only relevant data to be automatically mapped / visible when defining APIs. And lastly, easy data mapping and type inference is necessary for greatly reducing web system boilerplate code, which we solve by creating custom syntax or mapping data and using a type inference system to automatically generate the necessary code.

This in addition can provide future support for multiple languages / implementations and theoretically allows the language to be transpiled into another language of choice, specifically one capable of building a web system.


Due to the nature of this project, it’s difficult to represent a comparison using quantitative metrics. Instead, we will qualitatively explain the difference between this language and others languages. Although this language is still a normal turing complete programming language that is similar to other languages like Rust or Typescript, this language allows domain specific functionality that unifies web system aspects together, allowing much faster system development and easier modularity at all stages.

Although the best way to explain a language is through both detailed examples and syntax documentation, there isnt enough room in a paper for syntax documentation, so we’re including some syntax examples of common web system functionality, and how the language reduces common web system boilerplate and simplifies the implementation of commonly used patterns.

Data Mapping

In compiled languages like C# or Java, creating a mapped type requires defining a new entire type along with all of the fields inside, then creating a mapping function that explicitly re-assigns the types one at a time. This creates a lot of boilerplate and means adding something as simple as a new field in the database requires updating all the mapping functions and mapped types.

In our language, creating a mapped type is a simple as doing:

Creating A Mapped Type

In this example, the function getSelf is defined inside the type User, so this just becomes the user data (similar to C# or Java). The excluding keyword takes the value before it (must be an object type, rather than a primitive), and a comma separated list of field names after it, and generates a new anonymous type with the fields removed from the object.

Afterwards, the anonymous type may be given a public name using the infer keyword in the function arguments or return type. In this example, the newly created anonymous type is given the name PublicSelfData which can then be referenced in other places in the code.

Data Encapsulation

One major aspect of abstraction in any programming language is data and logic encapsulation. Although logic encapsulation is still often possible in web systems using abstraction, data encapsultion at the database level is impossible. For example, if you have a password field in your user, it would require both a password hash and password salt fields to be present in the database. This means that both fields must be manually defined in the database models, as well as manually considered when doing data mapping, among other things.

In our language, we took inspiration from how some programmable CMSs (content management systems) approach this problem, by allowing encapsulation of fields. An example would be the password field shown below:

Field Encapsulation Example

A field is like a struct, except it can be used on a database model. It contains child fields inside, which then get flattened out in the database. So for example, if a database model contains password: Password, then when transpiled, it becomes password_hash: String and password_salt: String.

Just like classes in other languages such as C++ and C# have lifecycle functions (constructor and deconstructor), a field in this language has 4 lifecycle functions (new, update, read, and delete). New and delete are effectively the constructor and deconstructor respectively, however update and read allow for mapping the inner data to the outside, allowing for easy encapsulation. Each lifecycle function has a default implementation unless specified manually.

User Authentication

While in other languages, something as complex as user authentication would require a lot of extra lines of code, with complex data mapping, and many levels of abstraction. In our language, it still requires some levels of abstraction, however the logic is significantly more simple.

We start with the following shared mixin:

Email Authentication Mixin Example

A mixin in this language is similar to a trait in Rust, except it allows injecting custom fields onto the type as well. You can implement a mixin onto a database model, and it will add all the fields and functions onto that model. If the mixin requires a type argument (in this case Session), then the model will either be created or passed in when implementing the mixin.

Then, the implementation may look like the following:

Email Authentication Implementation Example

Models called User and UserSession are created, and then User is extended with EmailAuthentication (the mixin shown above), UserSession is passed in as the Session argument for the mixin, which extends UserSession with the relevant fields. If UserSession wasn’t passed in, then a private type would be automatically created instead. However, in this case it’s useful to have UserSession be accessible as it’s necessary later on.

The most important part of this is that something like EmailAuthentication can be implemented with only a few lines of code, and it automatically propagates all the new fields through the inferred types. This means that architecture modules like this can be included in either the standard library or third party libraries, and easily added to your current web system.

Lastly, the api side of the language:

API Example

The api keyword lets the programmer decleratively specify the external api to the web system. Everything inside api is nonlinear (the line order doesn’t matter). Api can declare variables that are then used when accessing api functions, e.g. global cookie session: UserSession?; declares a cookie of type UserSession that can be passed in or skipped, global user = session?.user; declares a variable called user that has a value based on the session, and so on. mutation and query specify mutations and queries for the external RPC (Remote Procedure Call) api, like with any other RPC api. The when keyword specifies conditions for when mutations and queries inside should be available. When transpiled down, all the when conditions become if statements placed individually inside the relevant procedures, throwing an error if they don’t succeed.

Further Discussion

To summarise our research, we were able to effectively reduce both the complexity and line count of written code compared to existing systems - while continuing to provide the same functional outcome. Due to time limitations however, we weren’t able to actively implement a compiler or interpreter - thus our results have been purely based upon speculative systems, without actually running the code. This has caused difficulties in gathering feedback and results from other parties, as there is only so much that unrunnable code can provide besides syntax and documentation of said syntax. We also saw this as an active oversight while developing the research questions and objectives, and have thus solely focused on proofing that the solution would work regardless of being run/written or not. Due to the prototype nature of the topic, these were within acceptable boundaries, and would be resolved in further re-iterations as we finalise more of the complex inner functionality.

In terms of comparable results, we were able to qualitatively compare the difference in line count between our proposed system and existing systems. This was especially apparent in sections of code that are generally reused and re-implemented for most current systems, which allowed those components to be completely isolated into separate modules that would either be included in the standard library or third party packages. Also, due to the amount of inference that the syntax allows, writing code in this language is significantly less verbose and therefore easier to read by other people. However, we did face some shortfalls with how declarative we could make it compared to what we’d initially hoped. While it does offer a significant advantage over other languages by using mixins, it is still fairly imperative. This can also be seen in the feedback we received regarding complexity, as some reviews stated that the current version of the language - while it offers declarative features to a degree, still does not meet a purely declarative state, compared to other languages such as Terraform.


There are also quite a few issues that have been highlighted both through both feedback and our initial testing. We found that the current language is fairly specific with what it supports - for example, there isn’t a method to abstract cookies away and choose to use sessions or local storage headers instead, the language forces cookies instead, or using something other than an RPC style API. The lanuguage also currently wouldn’t allow for the implementation of various decentralized architecture types and related features such as micro-services, database sharding only allowing monolithic applications. As stated previously it is also not as declarative as initially hoped, with some syntax and features still following an imperative-based scheme. Following on from that, the only truly declarative part of the language was the API system, showing that all other systems lacked full declarative support. Another factor was that we didn’t focus more on the elimination of functions and data mapping, rather simplifying it instead.


To conclude, the research topic was an overall success. The language through case studies has been proven, to at least in theory be a flexible, unique and non-trivial language implementation providing significant benefits over current imperative paradigms as well as declarative alike. From the demonstrated case studies in section 3, we have thoroughly simulated and demonstrated the languages functionality and as a result have been able to benchmark and demonstrate that such a language would effectively reduce the total lines of code needed to design a modular web system. Whilst this paper currently does not address an implementation for non-monolithic based architectures, such as microservices based. This at the current point of research is outside of the scope of this paper and is considered an interesting point of research for future papers.