Incremental compilers (Charlie D. Havener)
Tue, 24 Jan 89 17:12:43 EST

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Date: Tue, 24 Jan 89 17:12:43 EST
From: (Charlie D. Havener)

I would like to stimulate some discussion in this group about incremental
compilers and fine grained interpreters for block structured languages. Fine
grain means it incrementally changes the compiled or interpretive code ( like
reverse polish ) on a line by line basis instead of a file basis.

I have just acquired the new book "The Synthesizer Generator" by T. Reps and
T. Teitelbaum from Springer-Verlag ( 1-800-SPRINGER $39 ) which describes a
tool that uses attribute grammar algorithms to maintain an abstract syntax
tree as changes are made to the source code. We have the tool on order ( $200
from Cornell Univ. 607-255-7573 ) and I am looking forward to trying it out.
There is a new release due out in February. It would be most interesting to
hear of any experiences pro or con in using this tool for developing an
incremental interpreter.

There seems to be a general lack of good literature on the issues that one
must solve when developing an incremental compiler. Most texts are very much
batch compiler oriented. I enjoyed the "Writing Interactive Compilers and
Interpreters" by Brown ( Wiley 1979 ) but it was mostly common sense. "The
Synthesizer Generator" book has a good bibliograpy but doesn't show any texts
specifically on interactive compilers, just some papers.

I know the Lisp compiler on the Symbolics work station is incremental, I have
heard that Microsoft's QuickBasic is also really an incremental compiler to
machine code (is this true? ) and I have seen ads for one MS-DOS C compiler
that is fine grained incremental but I forget the name. The Safe-C Interpreter
from Catalytix is really a file oriented interpreter. You have to edit the
file and read it in again. I think the Saber-C environment for Sun
workstations is the same. Does anyone know of other examples of fine grained
incremental compilers or interpreters?
Charlie Havener - GenRad Inc. 300 Baker Ave, MS 1A, Concord Mass. 01742
..genrad!condor!charlie charlie@condor.genrad.COM

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