is lex useful?

"Dan E. Kelley" <>
21 Jun 1996 17:07:17 -0400

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From: "Dan E. Kelley" <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 21 Jun 1996 17:07:17 -0400
Organization: Compilers Central
Keywords: lex, question, comment

Although all the books suggest that lex is a good thing, even a great
thing, I've noticed that many real-world programs use hand-coded
lexical analysers. (For example, gawk, perl and bash appear not to
use lex.)

So, my question is: if lex is useful, why isn't it used? Is there
some snag (speed problems, perhaps, or difficult to port code?) that
makes it smart to avoid lex?

Thanks in advance for any advice from the pros!

Dan E. Kelley internet: mailto:Dan.Kelley@Dal.CA
Oceanography Department phone: (902)494-1694
Dalhousie University fax: (902)494-2885
Halifax, NS, CANADA, B3H 4J1 WWW:
[AT&T lex is slow and buggy. I like flex a lot better. -John]

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