Down to three tools...

INPACT5 inpact5 <>
5 Jul 1996 11:58:25 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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From: INPACT5 inpact5 <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers,
Date: 5 Jul 1996 11:58:25 -0400
Organization: Direction des Etudes et Recherches EDF
Keywords: tools

<H2>Presentation of the problem :</H2>
Translate the language PL16 into C/C++ that holds to approximately the
same form as the PL16 (for future maintenance purposes - eventually the
people who maintain the current code will be adding functions to the C
and they want to be able to find their way through the code). For what
it matters I have around 200k lines of code to translate - but there are
a couple of 2-3k line files that are going to serve as the mark of
success or failure (they use almost all of the functionality of the
language and most of the stickly bits).

<H2>Solution : </H2>
Using a set of reasonably standard compilation tools to facilitate my
job. My final product doesn't need blazing speed - it needs
correctness. It would be nice if the syntax were reasonably
understandable for those who come after me (if they want to add a little
functionality to the translation). It would be nice if the syntax were
reasonably understandable (heck, I've got to figure out how to use it
myself). It would be nice if the syntax were reasonably understandable
(got it?). The last time that I wrote here I had narrowed the number of
tools to 8 or so. Well, now I'm down to three. What I'm looking for
now is help. I would like to see examples of similar kinds of work. I
would like hints on how to proceed from here. I would like experiences
of people using these tools to do similar things. I would like a big
raise. (Subliminal part of the message for my employer!)

<H2>The big winners : </H2>

<H2>A few comments on these tools :</H2>
<H2>pccts :</H2>
Appears to be everything that I've ever wanted a translator to be. I
only need to define a couple of files and away we go. So, where's the
documentation? I have the book. It reads like a reference manual. The
guide for newbies seems pretty cryptic (I need to know how to use pccts
to understand the guide... ack!). I want to know how to _use_ the
language! The tutorials are in C mode - which is great and all, but I'd
like to use C++ mode. No, I don't learn really well just in looking at
the examples - and besides that the examples do not appear to pertain to
my case. All I want to do is to put the thing in an AST and then into C
- how hard can it be? I've already got a great start on my grammar
(thanks to Pat Terry - see coco/r). Is there a reason why no one
answers my requests for the pccts Pascal grammar? Should I just mail
directly to John with all of my questions? (I know that I wouldn't want
my mailbox cluttered up with silly questions, but you guys sure aren't
helping all that much!)

Way cool. Appears to be everything that I've ever wanted a translater
to be (where have I heard this before?). Um. How do I use it? The
documentation is profuse but not very helpful. The graphic interface is
cool but annoying (shouldn't I be able to use the little arrow to go to
the next page?). The examples don't compile! (Ok, I got some of them
working with help from Basim Kadhim and Matthias Jung - thanks guys!)
And good grief, but it sure looks like you need to define a hell of a
lot of files (sub-parts? sub-grammars? Oh, little bits...) to get it
to run - and the syntax is really confusing (on the semi-compiled bits -
when it's all in separate files it's reasonable but you sure have a lot
of those little files) - and the interface (the non graphic part) uses a
really cryptic syntax - and I'm pretty sure that I don't understand how
to apply it to my situation (though it is euqally sure that the right
tool exists for the job, I just don't see exactly how to use it).

I have yet to determine if it is everything that I've ever wanted a
translator to be, but the grammar is really easy to use and very
understandable. Pat Terry has been a great help with all of my
problems. The docs haven't been completely updated since the last
version (a major change) so I don't really know how to use it to do
what I want to do or even if it will do it (or if I'm going to get
stuck dealing with a symbol-table and similar - nasty and undesirable -
stuff myself).

It doesn't seem like I should have to know more than I do now (as far as
compilers go I've only just finished up this year with my first course
in language theory) to make this work, but you never know - if there's
some reference that you feel that I can't live without let me know. If
I should just shut up and get my butt to work, I suppose that you could
tell me that as well... Say - if any of you compiler construction tool
writers want some help in documenting your tools for beginners let me
know! I'm particularly interested in helping you write the part about
language translation...
Ok, well, thanks to all who responded last time...

charles witherup

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