Re: status of IDL (Rick Snodgrass)
26 Jul 91 17:53:30 GMT

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status of IDL (1991-07-23)
Re: status of IDL (1991-07-26)
Re: status of IDL (1991-07-26)
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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: (Rick Snodgrass)
Keywords: IDL
Organization: U of Arizona CS Dept, Tucson
References: 91-07-052
Date: 26 Jul 91 17:53:30 GMT

In article 91-07-052 (Bill Homer) writes:
>1. Is IDL still in active development?

Yes, it is. In fact, it has entered the commercial arena: Persistent
Data Systems now markets the IDB Object Database, based on IDL. They
can be reached at (412) 963-1843 (I have no connection with this company).

>2. Can one still obtain a toolset from the University of North
> Carolina at Chapel Hill, or elsewhere?

>[A message in May 1989 from David Lamb,, said that
>Richard Snodgrass,, had an IDL processor, but I don't know
>whether he's still there. -John]

I'm now at the University of Arizona... The Scorpion Meta-environment is a
superset of the UNC toolset, and was released in April of this year. Version
5.0 of the Scorpion System runs on the following machines under Unix: Sun-3,
Sun-4, DEC Vax, DEC 3100, NeXT, Sequent Symmetry, and HP 9000. The system is
entirely in the public domain, and all source code and documentation is

Scorpion is a medium-scale software development environment. It contains some
20 closely-interacting tools, totalling about 140K source lines of code (the
vast majority in C, with some Pascal, lex and yacc code thrown in). The
Scorpion System is a meta-environment, that is, a software development
environment (SDE) tailored to the production of target SDEs. Scorpion supports
communication of fine-grained data between tools in the target SDE.

The Scorpion System has been used to construct a variety of specialized
programming environments, including those that support change management (the
Infuse System developed at Bell Labs and Columbia University), parallel
programming (Georgia Tech), design format transformation (Purdue University),
ECAD (RECAL/REDAC), conventional compilation (University of New Hampshire),
microcode optimization (University of North Carolina), silicon compilation
(Columbia University), database query analysis (University of Arizona),
software development in Modula-3 (DEC SRC), and, of course, the Scorpion
System itself.

Scorpion currently uses the Interface Description Language (IDL) as a data
specification formalism. IDL allows graph structures containing attributed
nodes to be described. It provides a class type system with multiple
inheritance. IDL specifies only the data component; method components are
supplied by multiple conventional programming languages. IDL was designed to
specify structures, such as parse trees, symbol tables, and computation
graphs, that are commonly passed between tools in an SDE. These descriptions
get translated into target language data declarations and library routines, so
that the application can read and write data instances. Basic type generators
are sets and sequences, from which iterators are generated. Multiple
representations, e.g., of sets as linked lists or as arrays, are supported.

There are two ways to get the system.

1. Obtain an order form either from the following address or by email
(; please provide your postal address.

The Scorpion Project
Department of Computer Science
Gould-Simpson Building
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
(602) 621-8448

Shipments include a 1/2" magnetic tape at 1600bpi or a Sun DC-300 cartridge,
plus optional printed copies of the documentation (consisting of some 13
documents comprising about 500 pages; sources of all documents are included in
the tar file), and an optional copy of "The Interface Description Language:
Definition and Use", by Richard Snodgrass, which is an essential introduction
and reference text for using Scorpion. This book, published by Computer
Science Press in 1989, is also available through your bookstore (ISBN
0-7167-8198-0). The system is available for a nominal distribution fee; for
example, the system on 9-track tape with full documentation (the book and all
manuals) costs $100.00, including shipping and handling.

2. FTP the code to your site over the net by typing the following bracketed
text without brackets. You should see similar output (the number of bytes is
only approximate). Converting to binary mode to transfer the compressed tar
file is crucial.

% [ ftp ]
Connected to
220 megaron FTP server (Version 4.185 Thu Feb 7 12:22:26 MST 1991) ready.
Name ( [ anonymous ]
331 Guest login ok, send ident as password.
Password: [ mylogin@myhost ]
230- Guest login 1 of 25 accepted, access restrictions apply.
        Welcome to anonymous ftp area. Get the "README"
        file for details.
ftp> [ cd scorpion ]
250 CWD command successful.
ftp> [ get README ]
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for README (15192 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: README remote: README
ftp> [ get ]
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for (80750 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: remote:
ftp> [ get installation.txt ]
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for installation.txt (48480 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: installation.txt remote: installation.txt
ftp> [ binary ]
200 Type set to I.
ftp> [ get scorpion5.0.tar.Z ]
200 PORT command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for scorpion5.0.tar.Z (4752821 bytes).
226 Transfer complete.
local: scorpion5.0.tar.Z remote: scorpion5.0.tar.Z
ftp> [ quit ]
221 Goodbye.

At that point, you can print out the README file and the installation
instructions (they come as raw text and as a postscript-format file).

Questions should be directed to, or to the
address above.

Richard Snodgrass
Associate Professor

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