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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Compiler development 1/2

Although programming domain-specific languages ( with tools like ANTLR ) is part of the standard toolkit (*) of an  application programmer, programming compilers is still considered to be a different ballgame. ( Is it? ) I worked for a company once that developed a 4GL. A small group of experts worked on the kernel ( compilers and run-time ). They enjoyed an almost cult-like status, they were literally seen as guru's. The skill to write a compiler was considered God-like. Java was only just released and tools like ANTLR were years ahead of us. - The cruelty is, it always is, that developing compilers is not difficult, it is simple compared to developing satisfactory end-user applications.

More next post, in which I will explain how you can learn to write your own compiler fast and easy.

(*) If you expect a programmer to be carrying an actual physical "kit" on his gadget belt you are wrong. "Standard Toolkit" is programmers jargon for a minimal set of technical skills expected of any programmer. Every programmer knows how to query a database with SQL, creating and populating tables to optimize performance is however specialized knowledge expected only of a database administrator or DBA ( although many programmers have DBA skills ).

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(Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion, colloquially aka Raumpatrouille Orion was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning September 17, 1966. The series has since acquired cult status in Germany. Broadcast six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972), it became a huge success.)