Re: Is C++ really used ?

John Lilley <>
4 May 1997 00:22:02 -0400

          From comp.compilers

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From: John Lilley <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 4 May 1997 00:22:02 -0400
Organization: Nerds for Hire, Inc.
References: 97-04-156 97-04-167
Keywords: C, C++, OOP

David Chase wrote:

> > Is C++ so bad for compilers, after all I'm using it and it seems

> I worked on one compiler written in C++, and it was a little bit like
> being a subcontractor on the Tower of Babel.


The arguments you give are perhaps valid, but not specific to
compilers/parsers. Yes, C++ is complex and tedious, but is does have
some very good features w.r.t. Java (performance, static type
checking, const), and "C" (reasonable type-safety, encapsulation,

But the real question is "why isn't C++ used for *compilers*". I
offer that the main reason is portabilty. You must bootstrap the
compiler from an existing base. If the compiler is written in C++ and
you want it to be portable across several platforms, it is a nightmare
trying to reconcile the various flavors of C++ that abound. It is
also a bootstrapping problem, and it is more likely that you will
encounter a viable "C" compiler on whatever system than a viable C++

My is verified by the approaches of GNU g++ (which has a mission of
being written only in "C"), and of Edison Design Group (who sell a
very-high-quality, portable C++ front-end written in "C").

I am writing a C++ parser in C++, but it's not for production across
many systems, so I can live with the current limitations.

john lilley

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