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digitalmars.D - xdc: A hypothetical D cross-compiler and AST manipulation tool.

reply "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it 
xdc, a loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, 
see 
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/37394/why-do-some-words-have
x-as-a-substitute). 
  It could also mean other fun things like "Crossbone D Compiler" 
(I imagine a logo with some crossbones having a metal D atop 
where the skull normally goes), "eXperimental D Compiler", or 
something sounding like "ectasy" ;)

We usually think of language features as being rewritten into 
simpler features.  The simple features eventually get rewritten 
into machine instructions.  Compilers are, fundamentally, 
responsible for performing "lowering" operations.

It makes sense to me, then, to make a compiler whose internals 
/look/ like a bunch of these rewrites and lowering operations.  
There should be a bunch of input patterns matched to the desired 
results.  This has the happy side-effect of giving us a pleasant 
way to do AST manipulations from within D code.

I've also had a long-standing desire to see D on many more 
platforms.  It should make an appearance on console platforms and 
on smartphones.  I've tried doing this with a retargetable 
compiler like GCC before, and the work was surprisingly large.  
Even if the compiler already emits code for the target system's 
CPU, there are still a large number of details involving calling 
conventions, executable format, and any number of CPU/OS specific 
tweaks to object file output.  It makes a lot more sense to me to 
just output C/C++ code and feed that to a native toolchain.  That 
would skip a lot of the platform-specific nonsense that creates a 
barrier to entry for people who, say, just want to write a simple 
game for Android/iPhone/PS(3|4)/etc in D, and don't want to 
become compiler experts first.  Ideally, some day, this compiler 
would also emit code or bytecode for Javascript, AS3/Flash, Java, 
and any other popular targets that the market desires.  This can 
probably be done with DMD, but I'd like to make the process more 
approachable, and make backend authoring as easy as possible.  It 
should be possible (and easy) to tell the compiler exactly what 
lowerings should be applied before the AST hits the backend.

xdc should bring all of that cross-platform targeting together 
with a compiler infrastructure that can blow everything else away 
(I hope!).

xdc is my dream for a D compiler that gives us our first step (of 
few) towards having what haXe has already (http://haxe.org/) : a 
compiler that can land code just about anywhere.

What follows is a collection of my thoughts written down as notes.

== Ideal Outcomes ==

.- D to C/C++ compiler that can easily reach target platforms 
that are
.    currently either unsupported or poorly supported by current D
.    compilers.
.   - Useful for game developers wishing to write D code on the
.       next big console platform.
.   - Useful for embedded systems developers wishing to write D 
code
.       on obscure or potentially proprietary microcontrollers.

.- Other backends (ex: llvm, Java bytecode, AS3/Flash bytecode, 
etc)
.    possible in the future.  Community desires considered when
.    selecting new backend targets.

.- Interpreter backend: a notable backend that would be 
implemented as
.    a necessity for making CTFE work.  A dedicated interpreter
.    backend would hopefully be much faster and easier on memory 
than
.    DMD's souped-up constant folder.  (Even though DMD has become
.    considerably better at this in the past year or two.)

.- Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) manipulation toolchain, possibly 
usable
.    in CTFE.  It would work like this:
.    (1) Pass some D code or Domain Specific Language (DSL) of 
your
.          choice (as text) into xdc at compile-time.
.    (2) xdc returns an AST.
.    (3) Use xdc's pattern-matching and substitution DSL to
.          manipulate the AST.
.    (4) xdc consumes the AST and emits modified D code.
.    (5) mixin(...) the result.
.   - If xdc is the compiler used to execute itself in CTFE, then
.       it might be possible to optimize this by having it expose
.       itself as a set of intrinsics.

.- Reference counting available by default on all platforms.
.   - Gets you into the action with minimal effort and little or 
no
.       compiler hacking. (More complete GC tends to require 
platform
.       specific ASM and/or operating system API support).

.- Full garbage collection available if supported.
.   - Ex: The C backends would default to ref-counting until the 
ASM
.       and OS-level code is written to support full GC.
.   - Ex: A Java backend would probably use the Java JVM by 
default.

.- Threading model determined by compiler configuration or 
available
.    platform hints.
.   - Ex: The user may have a posix-threads implementation 
available,
.       but know little other details about the target system.  It
.       should be possible for xdc to use pthreads to emulate the
.       TLS and synchronization mechanisms needed to make D tick.
.       (Or at least emulate as many features as possible.)
.   - Ex: Possible "no threading" target for people who don't need
.       threading but DO need other D features to be available NOW
.       on an alien platform.  Errors when the source code passed
.       into xdc assumes that threading features are present.

.- D compiler that is easy to hack on.
.   - "Looks like the problem it solves."
.       (To quote Walter's DConf2013 keynote.)
.   - Made of a bunch of patterns that describe
.       code rewrites/lowerings.
.   - Few or no null value checks necessary.
.      - null checks don't look like pattern matching or lowering.
.   - Few or no convoluted if-while-if-for-etc nests.
.      - These also don't look like pattern matching or lowering.
.   - It should be largely made of "pattern handlers" (see below).
.   - Each pattern handler will have one part that closely 
resembles
.       the AST fragment for the D code that it recognizes, and
.       another part that resembles the lowered form that it 
outputs.
.   - Dependency analysis that prevents your AST manipulation from
.       happening either too early or too late.
.   - Because the code that actually does lowerings is generated 
from
.       a DSL, it is possible to make it automate a lot of tedious
.       tasks, like updating the symbol table when nodes are 
added or
.       removed from the AST.
.   - This makes it easier to test experimental features.

.- A step-by-step view of what the compiler is doing to your code.
.   - Since the semantic analysis of xdc would be composed of
.      "pattern handlers" (see below), then each time one of them
.      completes the compiler could output the result of calling
.      .toString() (or .toDCode() or whatever) on the entire AST.
.   - This could be attached to an ncurses interface that would be
.      activated by passing a flag to the compiler, which would 
then
.      proceed to show the AST at every stage of compilation.
.      Press ENTER to see the next step, etc.
.   - This could also be exposed as API functionality that IDEs 
could
.      use to show developers how the compiler sees their code.

.- D code analysis engine that might be usable to automatically
.    translate D1 code into D2 code, or maybe D2 into D3 in the 
far
.    future.

== Architectural Overview ==

.- xdc will largely consist of "pattern handlers" that recognize
.    patterns in its AST and replace them with AST fragments that
.    contain successively fewer high-level features (lowering).
.   - These pattern handlers would feature a DSL that should make
.       the whole task fairly easy.
.   - The DSL proposed would be similar to regular expressions in
.       semantics but different in syntax.
.      - It will have operators for choice, repetition, optional
.          matches, capturing, and so on.
.      - The DSL must support nested structures well.
.      - The DSL must support vertical layout of patterns well.
.      - Because of the vertical patterns, most operators will 
either
.          be prefix or will be written in block style:
.          some_block_header { block_stmt1; block_stmt2; etc; }
.      - Actions like entering and leaving nodes are given their 
own
.          special syntax.  The machine will treat them like 
tokens
.          that can be matched the same as any AST node.  Notably,
.          node-entry and node-exit do not require introducing
.          non-regular elements to the DSL.  node-entry and 
node-exit
.          may be subsumed into Deterministic Finite Automatons 
(DFAs).
.   - An example pattern handler might look like this:

const lowerWhileStatement =
{
	// Apologies in advance if this isn't actually valid D code:
	//   This is a design sketch and I currently don't have a way to 
compile it.
	//
	// The Pattern template, PatternMatch template, and 
PatternHandler class
	//   have not yet been written.  This is an example of how I 
might expect
	//   them to be used.
	//

	auto consumes = "while_statement";
	auto produces = "if_statement","goto","label");
	
	auto recognizer = Pattern!
		"WhileStatement has
		{
			// Capture the conditional expression (call it \"expr\") and
			//   capture the loop body (call it \"statement\").
			.expression $expr;
			.statement  $statement has
			{
				// Capture any continue/break statements.
				any_amount_of {
					any_amount_of .; // Same as .* in regexes.
					one_of
					{
						ContinueStatement $continues;
						BreakStatement    $breaks;
					}
				}
				any_amount_of .;
			}
		}";
	
	auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m)
	{
		m.captures.add("uniqLoopAgain", 
getUniqueLabel(syntaxNode.enclosingScope))
		m.captures.add("uniqExitLoop", 
getUniqueLabel(syntaxNode.enclosingScope))
		
		// The "recognizes" clause defines m.getCapture!"continues" 
with:
		//   "ContinueStatement $continues;"
		// That line appears in a repitition context ("any_amount_of") 
and is
		//   therefore typed as an array.
		foreach( ref node; m.getCapture!"continues" )
			node.replaceWith( m, "GotoStatement has $uniqLoopAgain" )
		
		// Ditto for m.getCapture!"breaks" and "BreakStatement 
$breaks;".
		foreach( ref node; m.getCapture!"breaks" )
			node.replaceWith( m, "GotoStatement has $uniqExitLoop" )
	};
	
	auto synthesizer = Pattern!
		"Label has $uniqLoopAgain
		IfStatement has
		{
			OpNegate has $expr
			GotoStatement has $uniqExitLoop
		}
		$statement
		GotoStatement has $uniqLoopAgain
		Label has $uniqExitLoop
		";

	return new PatternHandler(produces, consumes, recognizer, 
action, synthesizer);
};

(Also available at: http://pastebin.com/0mBQxhLs )

.- Dispatch to pattern handlers is performed by the execution of a
.    DFA/Packrat hybrid instead of the traditional OOP inheritance
.    with method calls.
.   - Each pattern handler's recognizer gets treated like a regex
.       or Parsing Expression Grammar (PEG) fragment.
.   - All of the recognizers in the same semantic pass are pasted
.       together in an ordered-choice expression.  The ordering is
.       determined by dependency analysis.
.   - A recognizer's pattern handler is invoked when the 
recognizer's
.       AST expression is matched.
.   - Once any substitutions are completed, then the machine 
executing
.       the pattern engine will set its cursor to the beginning of
.       the newly substituted AST nodes and continue running.
.   - Executing potentially hundreds of pattern handlers in a 
single
.       ordered-choice expression would be obnoxious for a packrat
.       parser (packrat machine?).  Thankfully, ordered-choice is
.       possible in regular grammars, so it can be lowered into 
regex
.       operations and the whole thing turned into a DFA.
.   - If pattern recognizers end up needing recursive elements,
.       then they will probably not appear at the very beginning 
of
.       the pattern.  Patterns with enough regular elements at the
.       start will be able to merge those regular elements into 
the
.       DFA with the rest of the pattern recognizers, and it all
.       becomes very fast table lookups in small tables.

.- This compiler would involve the creation of a parser-generator
.    API that allows code to programmatically create grammars, and
.    to do so without a bunch of clumsy string formatting and 
string
.    concatenation.
.   - These grammars could be written such that things like AST 
nodes
.       are seen as terminals.  This expands possibilities and 
allows
.       all of the pattern handlers to be coalesced into a grammar
.       that operates on ASTs and fires off semantic actions 
whenever
.       one of the recognizer patterns gets tickled by the right 
AST
.       fragment.
.   - Using strings as terminals is still cool; and necessary for
.       xdc's text/D-code parser.
.   - A simple parser-generator API example:

---------------------------------------
string makeParser()
{
	auto builder = new ParserBuilder!char;
	builder.pushSequence();
		builder.literal('x');
		builder.pushMaybe();
			builder.literal('y');
		builder.pop();
	builder.pop();
	return builder.toDCode("callMe");
}

const foo = makeParser();

pragma(msg, foo);
---------------------------------------
Current output:
http://pastebin.com/V3E0Ubbc
---------------------------------------

.   - Humans would probably never directly write grammars using 
this
.       API; it is intended for use by code that needs to write
.       grammars.  xdc would be such code: it's given a bunch of
.       pattern handlers and needs to turn them into a grammar.
.   - This API could also make it easier to write the parser
.       generators that humans /would/ use. For example, it could 
be
.       used as an experimental backend for a regular expression
.       engine that can handle limited recursion.
.   - The packrats usually generated from PEGs are nice and all, 
but
.       I'd really like to generate DFAs whenever possible, 
because
.       those seem to be regarded as being /very fast/.
.   - DFAs can't handle the recursive elements of PEGs, but they
.       should be able to handle everything non-recursive that
.       precedes or follows the recursive elements.
.   - The parser-generator API would be responsible for 
aggressively
.       converting PEG-like elements into regex/DFA elements 
whenever
.       possible.
.   - Regular expressions can be embedded in PEGs as long as you 
tell
.       them how much text to match.  You have to give them 
concrete
.       success/failure conditions that can be determined without
.       help from the rest of the PEG: things like "match as many
.       characters as possible" or "match as few characters as
.       possible".  Without that, the regex's backtracking (DFA'd
.       or otherwise) won't mesh with the PEG.  Give it a concrete
.       win/fail condition, however, and the embedded regex 
becomes
.       just another PEG building block that chews through some
.       source material and yields a yes/no result.  Such regular
.       expressions allow DFAs to be introduced into a recursive
.       descent or packrat parser.
.   - Many PEG elements can be converted into these well-behaved
.       regular expressions.
.      - PEG repetition is just regular expression repetition with
.          a wrapper around it that says "match as many characters
.          as possible".
.      - PEG ordered choice can be lowered into regular expression
.          unordered choice, which can then be converted into 
DFAs:
.          I suspect that this is true: (uv/xy)c == 
(uv|(^(uv)&xy))c
.          (or, by De Morgan's law: (uv/xy)c == 
(uv|(^(uv|^(xy))))c )
.          & is intersection.
.          ^ is negation.
.          Each letter (u,v,x,y,c) can be a subexpression
.            (non-recursive).
.      - PEG label matching can be inlined up to the point where
.          recursion occurs, thus allowing more elements to be
.          considered for DFA conversion.
.      - etc.

.- The parser would be defined using a PEG (most likely using 
Pegged
.    specifically).
.   - Although Pegged is an awesome achievement, I suspect its 
output
.       could be improved considerably.  The templated code it
.       generates is slow to compile and ALWAYS allocates parse
.       tree nodes at every symbol.
.   - I want to experiment with making Pegged (or a branch of it) 
emit
.       DFA/Packrat parser hybrids.  This could be done by making 
a
.       version of Pegged that uses the aforementioned
.       parser-generator API to create its parsers.
.   - Design principle:  avoid memory allocations like the plague.
.       The output should be a well-pruned AST, and not just a 
parse
.       tree that causes a bunch of allocations and needs 
massaging to
.       become useful.
.   - I really like Pegged and would contribute this stuff 
upward, if
.       accepted.

.- When hacking on xdc, you don't need to be aware of WHEN your 
code
.    code gets executed in semantic analysis.  The dependency 
analysis
.    will guarantee that it always gets performed both
.    (a) when it's needed, and (b) when it has what it needs.
.   - This is what the "consumes" and "produces" variables are all
.       about in the above example.

.- Successfully lowering a D AST into the target backend's input 
will
.    almost certainly require multiple passes.  xdc's dependency
.    analyzer would automatically minimize the number of passes by
.    looking for patterns that are "siblings" in the dependency 
graph
.    (eg. neither depends on the other) and bunching as many such
.    patterns as possible into each pass.
.   - It really shouldn't generate very many more than the number 
of
.       passes that DMD has coded into it.  Ideally: no more than 
DMD,
.       if not fewer.
.   - I'd like to make the dependency analyzer output a graph that
.       can be used to track which patterns cause which passes to
.       exist, and show which patterns are in which passes.

.- Planned availability of backends.
.   - My first pick for a backend would be an ANSI C89 target.  I 
feel
.       that this would give it the most reach.
.   - The interpreter backend is along for the ride, as mentioned.
.   - Because the semantic analysis is composed of distinct and
.       loosely-coupled patterns, it is possible for xdc to 
generate
.       an analysis chain with the minimum number of lowerings 
needed
.       for a given backend.
.      - The interpreter backend would benefit from having the 
most
.          lowerings.  By requiring a lot of lowering, the 
interpreter
.          would only need to support a small number of 
constructs:
.         - if statements
.         - gotos
.         - function calls
.         - arithmetic expression evaluation
.         - builtin types (byte, short, int, long, float, double, 
etc)
.         - pointers
.         - Even structs are unnecessary: they can be seen as
.             typed dereferencing of untyped pointers.
.      - The C backend would benefit from slightly less lowering 
than
.         the interpreter backend.  It is useful for debugging if
.         you can mostly-sorta read the resulting C code, and your
.         C compiler will appreciate the extra optimization
.         opportunities.
.         - Looping constructs like while and for are welcome 
here.
.         - structs would be more readable.
.      - In the future, a Java or C# backend might use an entirely
.          different set of lowerings in later passes.
.         - Pointers are no longer considered "low".
.         - Classes should be kept as long as possible;
.             I'm pretty sure they bytecode (at least for Java)
.             has opcodes dedicated to classes.  Removing them
.             may cause pessimisation.
.      - The backend writer should not have to worry about 
rewriting
.          the semantic analysis to suit their needs.  They just 
define
.          some features and say which ones they need available 
in the
.          AST, and xdc's semantic-analysis-generator will handle 
the
.          rest.
.   - Notably, a backend should just be more lowerings, with the
.       result being text or binary code instead of AST nodes.
.      - Backends are essentially defined by the set of 
AST/language
.          features that they consume and any special lowerings 
needed
.          to convert generic AST/language features into
.          backend-specific AST/language features.


== Closing Thoughts ==

I am realizing that there are multiple reasons that compel me to 
write this document:
- To share my ideas with others, on the off-chance that someone 
else might see this vision too and be better equipped to deliver.
- To suggest capabilities that any community-endorsed compiler 
tool (ex: compiler-as-a-ctfe-library) should have.
- To see if I might be able to get the help I need to make it a 
reality.

I just can't decide which reasons are more important.  But there 
is a common thread: I want this vision to become reality and do 
really cool things while filling a bunch of missing links in D's 
ecosystem.

I have to ask:

Would you pay for this?
If so, then I might be able to do a kickstarter at some point.
I am not independently wealthy or retired (or both?) like Walter, 
nor am I able to survive on zero hours of sleep each night like 
Andrei, and this would be a big project.  I think it would need 
full-time attention or it would never become useful in a 
reasonable timeframe.

Also, assuming you understand the design, are there any gaping 
holes in this?
This is my first attempt to share these ideas with a larger 
group, and thus an opportunity to anticipate troubles.

...

Well, I'm anxious to see how well the venerable D community 
receives this bundle of ideas.  Be chatty.  I'll try to keep up.

Thank you for reading.
Jul 17 2013
next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
Crud, I miscalculated the line wrap on the web reader a lot.  
Sorry about that.
Jul 17 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
For the web forum interface users, I have re-wrapped the text in 
my outline.  Hopefully this will look better!  If not, please try 
this pastebin version: http://pastebin.com/Twc9ZUnQ

I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it 
xdc, a loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, 
see 
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/37394/why-do-some-words-have
x-as-a-substitute). 
  It could also mean other fun things like "Crossbone D Compiler" 
(I imagine a logo with some crossbones having a metal D atop 
where the skull normally goes), "eXperimental D Compiler", or 
something sounding like "ectasy" ;)

We usually think of language features as being rewritten into 
simpler features.  The simple features eventually get rewritten 
into machine instructions.  Compilers are, fundamentally, 
responsible for performing "lowering" operations.

It makes sense to me, then, to make a compiler whose internals 
/look/ like a bunch of these rewrites and lowering operations.  
There should be a bunch of input patterns matched to the desired 
results.  This has the happy side-effect of giving us a pleasant 
way to do AST manipulations from within D code.

I've also had a long-standing desire to see D on many more 
platforms.  It should make an appearance on console platforms and 
on smartphones.  I've tried doing this with a retargetable 
compiler like GCC before, and the work was surprisingly large.  
Even if the compiler already emits code for the target system's 
CPU, there are still a large number of details involving calling 
conventions, executable format, and any number of CPU/OS specific 
tweaks to object file output.  It makes a lot more sense to me to 
just output C/C++ code and feed that to a native toolchain.  That 
would skip a lot of the platform-specific nonsense that creates a 
barrier to entry for people who, say, just want to write a simple 
game for Android/iPhone/PS(3|4)/etc in D, and don't want to 
become compiler experts first.  Ideally, some day, this compiler 
would also emit code or bytecode for Javascript, AS3/Flash, Java, 
and any other popular targets that the market desires.  This can 
probably be done with DMD, but I'd like to make the process more 
approachable, and make backend authoring as easy as possible.  It 
should be possible (and easy) to tell the compiler exactly what 
lowerings should be applied before the AST hits the backend.

xdc should bring all of that cross-platform targeting together 
with a compiler infrastructure that can blow everything else away 
(I hope!).

xdc is my dream for a D compiler that gives us our first step (of 
few) towards having what haXe has already (http://haxe.org/) : a 
compiler that can land code just about anywhere.

What follows is a collection of my thoughts written down as notes.

== Ideal Outcomes ==

.- D to C/C++ compiler that can easily reach target platforms that
.    are currently either unsupported or poorly supported by
.    current D compilers.
.   - Useful for game developers wishing to write D code on the
.       next big console platform.
.   - Useful for embedded systems developers wishing to write
.       D code on obscure or potentially proprietary
.       microcontrollers.

.- Other backends (ex: llvm, Java bytecode, AS3/Flash bytecode,
.    etc) possible in the future.  Community desires considered
.    when selecting new backend targets.

.- Interpreter backend: a notable backend that would be
.    implemented as a necessity for making CTFE work.  A dedicated
.    interpreter backend would hopefully be much faster and easier
.    on memory than DMD's souped-up constant folder.  (Even though
.    DMD has become considerably better at this in the past year
.    or two.)

.- Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) manipulation toolchain, possibly
.    usable in CTFE.  It would work like this:
.    (1) Pass some D code or Domain Specific Language (DSL) of
.          your choice (as text) into xdc at compile-time.
.    (2) xdc returns an AST.
.    (3) Use xdc's pattern-matching and substitution DSL to
.          manipulate the AST.
.    (4) xdc consumes the AST and emits modified D code.
.    (5) mixin(...) the result.
.   - If xdc is the compiler used to execute itself in CTFE, then
.       it might be possible to optimize this by having it expose
.       itself as a set of intrinsics.

.- Reference counting available by default on all platforms.
.   - Gets you into the action with minimal effort and little or
.       no compiler hacking. (More complete GC tends to require
.       platform specific ASM and/or operating system API
.       support).

.- Full garbage collection available if supported.
.   - Ex: The C backends would default to ref-counting until the
.       ASM and OS-level code is written to support full GC.
.   - Ex: A Java backend would probably use the Java JVM by
.       default.

.- Threading model determined by compiler configuration or
.    available platform hints.
.   - Ex: The user may have a posix-threads implementation
.       available, but know little other details about the target
.       system.  It should be possible for xdc to use pthreads to
.       emulate the TLS and synchronization mechanisms needed to
.       make D tick.  (Or at least emulate as many features as
.       possible.)
.   - Ex: Possible "no threading" target for people who don't need
.       threading but DO need other D features to be available NOW
.       on an alien platform.  Errors when the source code passed
.       into xdc assumes that threading features are present.

.- D compiler that is easy to hack on.
.   - "Looks like the problem it solves."
.       (To quote Walter's DConf2013 keynote.)
.   - Made of a bunch of patterns that describe
.       code rewrites/lowerings.
.   - Few or no null value checks necessary.
.      - null checks don't look like pattern matching or lowering.
.   - Few or no convoluted if-while-if-for-etc nests.
.      - These also don't look like pattern matching or lowering.
.   - It should be largely made of "pattern handlers" (see below).
.   - Each pattern handler will have one part that closely
.       resembles the AST fragment for the D code that it
.       recognizes, and another part that resembles the lowered
.       form that it outputs.
.   - Dependency analysis that prevents your AST manipulation from
.       happening either too early or too late.
.   - Because the code that actually does lowerings is generated
.       from a DSL, it is possible to make it automate a lot of
.       tedious tasks, like updating the symbol table when nodes
.       are added or removed from the AST.
.   - This makes it easier to test experimental features.

.- A step-by-step view of what the compiler is doing to your code.
.   - Since the semantic analysis of xdc would be composed of
.      "pattern handlers" (see below), then each time one of them
.      completes the compiler could output the result of calling
.      .toString() (or .toDCode() or whatever) on the entire AST.
.   - This could be attached to an ncurses interface that would be
.      activated by passing a flag to the compiler, which would
.      then proceed to show the AST at every stage of compilation.
.      Press ENTER to see the next step, etc.
.   - This could also be exposed as API functionality that IDEs
.      could use to show developers how the compiler sees their
.      code.

.- D code analysis engine that might be usable to automatically
.    translate D1 code into D2 code, or maybe D2 into D3 in the
.    far future.

== Architectural Overview ==

.- xdc will largely consist of "pattern handlers" that recognize
.    patterns in its AST and replace them with AST fragments that
.    contain successively fewer high-level features (lowering).
.   - These pattern handlers would feature a DSL that should make
.       the whole task fairly easy.
.   - The DSL proposed would be similar to regular expressions in
.       semantics but different in syntax.
.      - It will have operators for choice, repetition, optional
.          matches, capturing, and so on.
.      - The DSL must support nested structures well.
.      - The DSL must support vertical layout of patterns well.
.      - Because of the vertical patterns, most operators will
.          either be prefix or will be written in block style:
.          some_block_header { block_stmt1; block_stmt2; etc; }
.      - Actions like entering and leaving nodes are given their
.          own special syntax.  The machine will treat them like
.          tokens that can be matched the same as any AST node.
.          Notably, node-entry and node-exit do not require
.          introducing non-regular elements to the DSL.
.          node-entry and node-exit may be subsumed into
.          Deterministic Finite Automatons (DFAs).
.   - An example pattern handler might look like this:

const lowerWhileStatement =
{
	// Apologies in advance if this isn't actually valid D code:
	//   This is a design sketch and I currently don't have a way to 
compile it.
	//
	// The Pattern template, PatternMatch template, and 
PatternHandler class
	//   have not yet been written.  This is an example of how I 
might expect
	//   them to be used.
	//

	auto consumes = "while_statement";
	auto produces = "if_statement","goto","label");
	
	auto recognizer = Pattern!
		"WhileStatement has
		{
			// Capture the conditional expression (call it \"expr\") and
			//   capture the loop body (call it \"statement\").
			.expression $expr;
			.statement  $statement has
			{
				// Capture any continue/break statements.
				any_amount_of {
					any_amount_of .; // Same as .* in regexes.
					one_of
					{
						ContinueStatement $continues;
						BreakStatement    $breaks;
					}
				}
				any_amount_of .;
			}
		}";
	
	auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m)
	{
		m.captures.add("uniqLoopAgain", 
getUniqueLabel(syntaxNode.enclosingScope))
		m.captures.add("uniqExitLoop", 
getUniqueLabel(syntaxNode.enclosingScope))
		
		// The "recognizes" clause defines m.getCapture!"continues" 
with:
		//   "ContinueStatement $continues;"
		// That line appears in a repitition context ("any_amount_of") 
and is
		//   therefore typed as an array.
		foreach( ref node; m.getCapture!"continues" )
			node.replaceWith( m, "GotoStatement has $uniqLoopAgain" )
		
		// Ditto for m.getCapture!"breaks" and "BreakStatement 
$breaks;".
		foreach( ref node; m.getCapture!"breaks" )
			node.replaceWith( m, "GotoStatement has $uniqExitLoop" )
	};
	
	auto synthesizer = Pattern!
		"Label has $uniqLoopAgain
		IfStatement has
		{
			OpNegate has $expr
			GotoStatement has $uniqExitLoop
		}
		$statement
		GotoStatement has $uniqLoopAgain
		Label has $uniqExitLoop
		";

	return new PatternHandler(produces, consumes, recognizer, 
action, synthesizer);
};

(Also available at: http://pastebin.com/0mBQxhLs )

.- Dispatch to pattern handlers is performed by the execution of a
.    DFA/Packrat hybrid instead of the traditional OOP inheritance
.    with method calls.
.   - Each pattern handler's recognizer gets treated like a regex
.       or Parsing Expression Grammar (PEG) fragment.
.   - All of the recognizers in the same semantic pass are pasted
.       together in an ordered-choice expression.  The ordering is
.       determined by dependency analysis.
.   - A recognizer's pattern handler is invoked when the
.       recognizer's AST expression is matched.
.   - Once any substitutions are completed, then the machine
.       executing the pattern engine will set its cursor to the
.       beginning of the newly substituted AST nodes and continue
.       running.
.   - Executing potentially hundreds of pattern handlers in a
.       single ordered-choice expression would be obnoxious for a
.       packrat parser (packrat machine?).  Thankfully, ordered-
.       choice is possible in regular grammars, so it can be
.       lowered into regex operations and the whole thing turned
.       into a DFA.
.   - If pattern recognizers end up needing recursive elements,
.       then they will probably not appear at the very beginning
.       of the pattern.  Patterns with enough regular elements at
.       the start will be able to merge those regular elements
.       into the DFA with the rest of the pattern recognizers, and
.       it all becomes very fast table lookups in small tables.

.- This compiler would involve the creation of a parser-generator
.    API that allows code to programmatically create grammars, and
.    to do so without a bunch of clumsy string formatting and
.    string concatenation.
.   - These grammars could be written such that things like AST
.       nodes are seen as terminals.  This expands possibilities
.       and allows all of the pattern handlers to be coalesced
.       into a grammar that operates on ASTs and fires off
.       semantic actions whenever one of the recognizer patterns
.       gets tickled by the right AST fragment.
.   - Using strings as terminals is still cool; and necessary for
.       xdc's text/D-code parser.
.   - A simple parser-generator API example:

---------------------------------------
string makeParser()
{
	auto builder = new ParserBuilder!char;
	builder.pushSequence();
		builder.literal('x');
		builder.pushMaybe();
			builder.literal('y');
		builder.pop();
	builder.pop();
	return builder.toDCode("callMe");
}

const foo = makeParser();

pragma(msg, foo);
---------------------------------------
Current output:
http://pastebin.com/V3E0Ubbc
---------------------------------------

.   - Humans would probably never directly write grammars using
.       this API; it is intended for use by code that needs to
.       write grammars.  xdc would be such code: it's given a
.       bunch of pattern handlers and needs to turn them into a
.       grammar.
.   - This API could also make it easier to write the parser
.       generators that humans /would/ use. For example, it could
.       be used as an experimental backend for a regular
.       expression engine that can handle limited recursion.
.   - The packrats usually generated from PEGs are nice and all,
.       but I'd really like to generate DFAs whenever possible,
.       because those seem to be regarded as being /very fast/.
.   - DFAs can't handle the recursive elements of PEGs, but they
.       should be able to handle everything non-recursive that
.       precedes or follows the recursive elements.
.   - The parser-generator API would be responsible for
.       aggressively converting PEG-like elements into regex/DFA
.       elements whenever possible.
.   - Regular expressions can be embedded in PEGs as long as you
.       tell them how much text to match.  You have to give them
.       concrete success/failure conditions that can be determined
.       without help from the rest of the PEG: things like "match
.       as many characters as possible" or "match as few
.       characters as possible".  Without that, the regex's
.       backtracking (DFA'd or otherwise) won't mesh with the PEG.
.       Give it a concrete win/fail condition, however, and the
.       embedded regex becomes just another PEG building block
.       that chews through some source material and yields a
.       yes/no result.  Such regular expressions allow DFAs to be
.       introduced into a recursive descent or packrat parser.
.   - Many PEG elements can be converted into these well-behaved
.       regular expressions.
.      - PEG repetition is just regular expression repetition with
.          a wrapper around it that says "match as many characters
.          as possible".
.      - PEG ordered choice can be lowered into regular expression
.          unordered choice, which can then be converted into
.          DFAs:
.          I suspect that this is true:
.             (uv/xy)c == (uv|(^(uv)&xy))c
.          or, by De Morgan's law:
.             (uv/xy)c == (uv|(^(uv|^(xy))))c
.          & is intersection.
.          ^ is negation.
.          Each letter (u,v,x,y,c) can be a subexpression
.            (non-recursive).
.      - PEG label matching can be inlined up to the point where
.          recursion occurs, thus allowing more elements to be
.          considered for DFA conversion.
.      - etc.

.- The parser would be defined using a PEG (most likely using
.    Pegged specifically).
.   - Although Pegged is an awesome achievement, I suspect its
.       output could be improved considerably.  The templated code
.       it generates is slow to compile and ALWAYS allocates parse
.       tree nodes at every symbol.
.   - I want to experiment with making Pegged (or a branch of it)
.       emit DFA/Packrat parser hybrids.  This could be done by
.       making a version of Pegged that uses the aforementioned
.       parser-generator API to create its parsers.
.   - Design principle:  avoid memory allocations like the plague.
.       The output should be a well-pruned AST, and not just a
.       parse tree that causes a bunch of allocations and needs
.       massaging to become useful.
.   - I really like Pegged and would contribute this stuff upward,
.       if accepted.

.- When hacking on xdc, you don't need to be aware of WHEN your
.    code gets executed in semantic analysis.  The dependency
.    analysis will guarantee that it always gets performed both
.    (a) when it's needed, and (b) when it has what it needs.
.   - This is what the "consumes" and "produces" variables are all
.       about in the above example.

.- Successfully lowering a D AST into the target backend's input
.    will almost certainly require multiple passes.  xdc's
.    dependency  analyzer would automatically minimize the number
.    of passes by looking for patterns that are "siblings" in the
.    dependency graph (eg. neither depends on the other) and
.    bunching as many such patterns as possible into each pass.
.   - It really shouldn't generate very many more than the number
.       of passes that DMD has coded into it.  Ideally: no more
.       than DMD, if not fewer.
.   - I'd like to make the dependency analyzer output a graph that
.       can be used to track which patterns cause which passes to
.       exist, and show which patterns are in which passes.

.- Planned availability of backends.
.   - My first pick for a backend would be an ANSI C89 target.
.       I feel that this would give it the most reach.
.   - The interpreter backend is along for the ride, as mentioned.
.   - Because the semantic analysis is composed of distinct and
.       loosely-coupled patterns, it is possible for xdc to
.       generate an analysis chain with the minimum number of
.       lowerings needed for a given backend.
.      - The interpreter backend would benefit from having the
.          most lowerings.  By requiring a lot of lowering, the
.          interpreter would only need to support a small number
.          of constructs:
.         - if statements
.         - gotos
.         - function calls
.         - arithmetic expression evaluation
.         - builtin types (byte, short, int, long, float, etc)
.         - pointers
.         - Even structs are unnecessary: they can be seen as
.             typed dereferencing of untyped pointers.
.      - The C backend would benefit from slightly less
.         than the interpreter backend.  It is useful for
.         debugging if you can mostly-sorta read the resulting
.         C code, and your C compiler will appreciate the extra
.         optimization opportunities.
.         - Looping constructs like while and for are welcome
.             here.
.         - structs would be more readable.
.      - In the future, a Java or C# backend might use an entirely
.          different set of lowerings in later passes.
.         - Pointers are no longer considered "low".
.         - Classes should be kept as long as possible;
.             I'm pretty sure they bytecode (at least for Java)
.             has opcodes dedicated to classes.  Removing them
.             may cause pessimisation.
.      - The backend writer should not have to worry about
.          rewriting the semantic analysis to suit their needs.
.          They just define some features and say which ones they
.          need available in the AST, and xdc's semantic-analysis-
.          generator will handle the rest.
.   - Notably, a backend should just be more lowerings, with the
.       result being text or binary code instead of AST nodes.
.      - Backends are essentially defined by the set of
.          AST/language features that they consume and any special
.          lowerings needed to convert generic AST/language
.          features into backend-specific AST/language features.


== Closing Thoughts ==

I am realizing that there are multiple reasons that compel me to 
write this document:
- To share my ideas with others, on the off-chance that someone 
else might see this vision too and be better equipped to deliver.
- To suggest capabilities that any community-endorsed compiler 
tool (ex: compiler-as-a-ctfe-library) should have.
- To see if I might be able to get the help I need to make it a 
reality.

I just can't decide which reasons are more important.  But there 
is a common thread: I want this vision to become reality and do 
really cool things while filling a bunch of missing links in D's 
ecosystem.

I have to ask:

Would you pay for this?
If so, then I might be able to do a kickstarter at some point.
I am not independently wealthy or retired (or both?) like Walter, 
nor am I able to survive on zero hours of sleep each night like 
Andrei, and this would be a big project.  I think it would need 
full-time attention or it would never become useful in a 
reasonable timeframe.

Also, assuming you understand the design, are there any gaping 
holes in this?
This is my first attempt to share these ideas with a larger 
group, and thus an opportunity to anticipate troubles.

...

Well, I'm anxious to see how well the venerable D community 
receives this bundle of ideas.  Be chatty.  I'll try to keep up.

Thank you for reading.
Jul 17 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Kagamin" <spam here.lot> writes:
llvm should be platform-independent enough, so you have ldc. But 
the problem with D is that it has more features than C/C++, so if 
you output C code you can only use C features, or you have to 
implement druntime+phobos for the target platform, which doesn't 
come for free.
Jul 18 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 10:26:24 UTC, Kagamin wrote:
 llvm should be platform-independent enough, so you have ldc. 
 But the problem with D is that it has more features than C/C++, 
 so if you output C code you can only use C features, or you 
 have to implement druntime+phobos for the target platform, 
 which doesn't come for free.

I think a C backend would get us farther than an LLVM backend. Imagine targeting one of the ubiquitous ARM targets like Android, and its gazillion variants. LLVM has an ARM target I'm pretty sure, but the Android community uses GCC as their compiler. This puts LLVM/LDC on Android into a "may or may not work" category (unless they've done it already while I wasn't looking). Emitting C/C++ code and feeding it to the Android NDK though: that will work for sure, or at least land incredibly close. Rinse and repeat for PIC, Cypress, iPhone, XBox (any of them), Wii, Ouya, PS3, PS4, 3DS, and whatever else might come out a year from now. I suspect that LLVM will be missing support for a bunch of those, and lag new platforms significantly; not unless it just happens to exist in their "ecosystem". I think that LLVM might have a maintained C backend again. It had been unmaintained/unsupported for a while. If someone thinks that using LLVM's C backend makes more sense, then they should do it with LDC. I'd be really happy about it, because I want that functionality. I am not interested in using LLVM as my /first/ backend in xdc for a combination of the above reasons and their implications: .- LLVM emitting native code for xdc will require someone . knowledgable with LLVM to set things up and potentially . spend time on it if the target platform requires tweaking. . Getting handed a file full of C code requires only knowledge . of how to use the C compiler on the target system. .- LLVM emitting C code should probably be done by ldc instead. .- LLVM emitting C code would also add unnecessary layers: . D->AST->LLVM_IR->C vs D->AST->C. . This extra layer can lose information. You are right that druntime+phobos don't come for free. Doing complete ports of those to platform X is outside the scope of this project. I do intend to salvage whatever parts of them I can in a portable manner. Moreover, I intend xdc to have the capability to toggle druntime/phobos features on and off easily based on existing support for the intended platform. The C-Windows target would probably have more druntime/phobos features enabled than C-Android target. I'd like to make sure that anyone can use what's available, and if not, still be allowed to access the platform. I don't think it makes sense that I'd be completely unable to write iPhone code just because there isn't GC/threading code available for it in the runtime yet; I should be able to do some non-trivial things without those. Note that a reference-counting implementation would be portable everywhere that doesn't have a native GC, so you'd never have anything less than that (unless you intentionally ditched it, ex: memory limited microcontrollers where things are statically allocated anyways). To be more concrete, I intend to make it possible to invoke xdc with "hints", like so: xdc --emit=C89 --hostc=gcc --os=windows --threads=pthreads main.d # Breakdown: # --emit=C89 causes C89 compliant code to be emitted. # --hostc=gcc causes xdc to feed the C89 code to gcc (mingw). # --os=windows causes xdc to use WinAPI by default for # for implementing druntime and platform-specific language # features. # --threads=pthreads overrides the use of Windows threads; # posix threads are used instead. # This combination could probably land GC+threading and mesh well # with a mingw environment. Alternatively, it could be invoked like this: xdc --emit=C89 main.d # This will generate some very conservative C89 code. # You will have refcounting instead of GC, and thread spawning # won't work. # However, you'll have some really freakin' portable code! Even with a conservative target like C89-only, there are still an incredibly large number of extremely useful D features (OOP, templates, scope(exit), CTFE, mixins, ranges, op-overloading, etc) that DO come for free. These can be lowered into C code that does the same thing but looks uglier. Such lowered code would take much longer for a human to write and become tedious to maintain, but a compiler can do it tirelessly.
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Tove" <tove fransson.se> writes:
On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 Even with a conservative target like C89-only, there are still 
 an incredibly large number of extremely useful D features (OOP, 
 templates, scope(exit), CTFE, mixins, ranges, op-overloading, 
 etc) that DO come for free.

I love the idea behind xdc, but I would go with C99 instead, even MS as the last vendor(?), with VS2013 now finally committed to supporting C99, variable length arrays alone would make it worth it.
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Joakim" <joakim airpost.net> writes:
On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 Imagine targeting one of the ubiquitous ARM targets like 
 Android, and its gazillion variants.  LLVM has an ARM target 
 I'm pretty sure, but the Android community uses GCC as their 
 compiler.  This puts LLVM/LDC on Android into a "may or may not 
 work" category (unless they've done it already while I wasn't 
 looking).

November in revision 8c: http://developer.android.com/tools/sdk/ndk/index.html gcc is still the default, but clang is an alternative option. I don't think ldc has been ported to use whatever llvm libraries the NDK is providing, but there is some official support for llvm on Android now.
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 15:39:36 UTC, Tove wrote:
 On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 Even with a conservative target like C89-only, there are still 
 an incredibly large number of extremely useful D features 
 (OOP, templates, scope(exit), CTFE, mixins, ranges, 
 op-overloading, etc) that DO come for free.

I love the idea behind xdc, but I would go with C99 instead, even MS as the last vendor(?), with VS2013 now finally committed to supporting C99, variable length arrays alone would make it worth it.

I am, in fact, totally willing to make --emit=C99 do cool things once I discover what those cool things are. Otherwise it will probably emit code that is both C89 and C99 compliant. I feel that most of the D features that can be implemented with a C99 compiler can be implemented with C89 as well, and C89 might give more reach into esoteric targets like microcontrollers or legacy systems. Maybe I should ask this: what D features are you afraid of losing due to lowering into C89? ... I hate to sour whatever cheerful expectations you might have, but, AFAIK, D doesn't have VLAs. Consequently, I don't think xdc would need them. I hear that VLA support is becoming optional in C11 as well, which doesn't bode well for its potential existance in the future, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable-length_array "Programming languages that support VLAs include [...] C99 (and subsequently in C11 relegated to a conditional feature which implementations aren't required to support; ..." It is important to note that even if D /did/ have VLAs, then it would be possible to lower them into other constructs: void foo(int n) { char[n] vla; ... } -= can be emulated by =- void foo(int n) { char[] vla = (cast(char*)std.c.stdlib.malloc(n))[0..n]; scope(exit) std.c.stdlib.free(vla.ptr); ... } This would be important for emitting to any language without VLAs. It could be used if someone wanted to add VLAs to xdc as an (off-by-default) experimental feature. And of course it should use "new T[n]" with core.memory.GC.free if the array contains pointers, or stdlib is unavailable (ex: Java). I would also expect --emit=C99 to avoid the heap allocation. alloca might be usable with C89 in some cases, but is very dangerous (in my experience). ---- I had a friend of mine who is an expert C programmer poke me about this C89 vs C99 thing as well. It's strange to me because I thought that emitting C89 was actually a strong selling point: you're getting D which is so much more than C99, AND it will reach all of the old C89 compilers. If there are still things that you (community inclusive) are afraid of missing, then I am pretty willing to do C99 instead and skip C89. I will need to know what they are though, or it won't make a difference anyway (I can't implement what I don't know about!). HTH.
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 16:42:32 UTC, Joakim wrote:
 On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 Imagine targeting one of the ubiquitous ARM targets like 
 Android, and its gazillion variants.  LLVM has an ARM target 
 I'm pretty sure, but the Android community uses GCC as their 
 compiler.  This puts LLVM/LDC on Android into a "may or may 
 not work" category (unless they've done it already while I 
 wasn't looking).

last November in revision 8c: http://developer.android.com/tools/sdk/ndk/index.html gcc is still the default, but clang is an alternative option. I don't think ldc has been ported to use whatever llvm libraries the NDK is providing, but there is some official support for llvm on Android now.

Cool, thanks for the info. It's been a while since I've looked at the Android NDK. It's just not fun to me without D being there ;)
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "cal" <callumenator gmail.com> writes:
On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 03:26:10 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
[...]

Is the input to xdc a semantically-analyzed D AST, or does 
semantic analysis occur during pattern-matching/lowering?
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:38:20 UTC, cal wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 03:26:10 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 [...]

 Is the input to xdc a semantically-analyzed D AST, or does 
 semantic analysis occur during pattern-matching/lowering?

The latter. xdc would accept D code as text input (.d files) and parse it to produce its own AST. Semantic analysis is then done by matching patterns in the AST and doing substitutions until all that's left are the AST nodes the backend wants. The backend then matches patterns and emits the desired output (instead of substituting AST nodes).
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "deadalnix" <deadalnix gmail.com> writes:
On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:44:38 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:38:20 UTC, cal wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 03:26:10 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 [...]

 Is the input to xdc a semantically-analyzed D AST, or does 
 semantic analysis occur during pattern-matching/lowering?

The latter. xdc would accept D code as text input (.d files) and parse it to produce its own AST. Semantic analysis is then done by matching patterns in the AST and doing substitutions until all that's left are the AST nodes the backend wants. The backend then matches patterns and emits the desired output (instead of substituting AST nodes).

I'm not sure how you'll handle all compile time features.
Jul 19 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 06:28:03 UTC, deadalnix wrote:
 On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:44:38 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:38:20 UTC, cal wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 03:26:10 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 [...]

 Is the input to xdc a semantically-analyzed D AST, or does 
 semantic analysis occur during pattern-matching/lowering?

The latter. xdc would accept D code as text input (.d files) and parse it to produce its own AST. Semantic analysis is then done by matching patterns in the AST and doing substitutions until all that's left are the AST nodes the backend wants. The backend then matches patterns and emits the desired output (instead of substituting AST nodes).

I'm not sure how you'll handle all compile time features.

To be honest, I hadn't yet written down what these would look like. However, I did have an idea of what I wanted them to look like. So, I will try to write down my thoughts on the subject. Here, have a wall of text ;) For Templates: Note that the machine running the pattern-match-and-replace is really only constrained to a DFA/Packrat when it is recognizing. Once a pattern is recognized, D code may be invoked to do a (hopefully minimal) amount of computation. Also, when a pattern is substituted, then it may return to the beginning of the substitution. The set-the-cursor-at-begging-of-substitution thing is something I'm not entirely sure of yet, but it seems like a good way to avoid an explosion in the number of passes: <cursor>auto foo = Templ!T(); <cursor>Templ!T foo = Templ!T(); <cursor>_D5TemplMangleMangle foo = Templ!T(); _D5TemplMangleMangle foo = <cursor>Templ!T(); _D5TemplMangleMangle foo = <cursor>Templ!T.__ctor(); _D5TemplMangleMangle foo = <cursor>_D5TemplMangleMangle6__ctorMangle(); ... The real deal wouldn't omit so many steps, but hopefully this conveys the usefulness. Now, that /may/ be useful in template instantiation. It is mostly for convenience though. Still, it is noteworthy in that it is not in the conventional realm of DFAs/Packrats/Formal-Language-Theory: those things usually do not talk about what happens when the input is modified. In other words, the use of DFAs/packrats in semantic analysis does not limit its computational power. The more important thing for templates though is this: that part where the D code may be invoked after pattern recognition. And it's important because it allows you to do more recognize-and-substitute without losing your place. It allows a kind of recursion. See the insides of the example "lowerValueTemplateInstantiation" handler I wrote in this post later on. To be more concrete, I present a step-by-step followed by some examples of what I think the code might look like. ================================================================= So imagine you have a template to be instantiated: template Fib(uint i) { static if ( i <= 1 ) const Fib = i; else const Fib = Fib!(i-1) + Fib!(i-2); } Somewhere else, this appears: writefln("Fib == %s", Fib!4); Suppose the parameter "i" is 4. Then we really want to end up substituting this template with the following line: const _D4main11__T3FibVi4Z3Fibxk = 3; and it should also emit these, as a side effect: const _D4main11__T3FibVi0Z3Fibxk = 0; const _D4main11__T3FibVi1Z3Fibxk = 1; const _D4main11__T3FibVi2Z3Fibxk = 1; const _D4main11__T3FibVi3Z3Fibxk = 2; To save time and not bore you, I will cheat and set the cursor at the template instantiation and skip all the writefln stuff. Our lowering proceeds like so: // We begin! writefln("Fib == %s", <cursor>Fib!4 ); // "lowerValueTemplateInstantiation" catches the Fib!4. // Make new xdc context; jump to the template declaration. // Initial state: template Fib(uint i) { static if ( i <= 1 ) const Fib = i; else const Fib = Fib!(i-1) + Fib!(i-2); } // Substitute i using "substituteTemplateParams" template Fib(uint i) { static if ( 4 <= 1 ) const Fib = 4; else const Fib = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); } // Invoke "lowerTemplateDecl" <cursor>template Fib(uint i) { static if ( 4 <= 1 ) const Fib = 4; else const Fib = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); } /**************** But wait, "lowerTemplateDecl" doesn't meet it's constraint yet. consumes = "!static_if, !static_foreach" is not satisfied. ****************/ // Invoke "lowerStaticIf" (sorry, not written yet) template Fib(uint i) { <cursor>static if ( 4 <= 1 ) const Fib = 4; else const Fib = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); } ... template Fib(uint i) { static if ( <cursor>4 <= 1 ) const Fib = 4; else const Fib = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); } // "lowerStaticIf" needs a literal here, not an expression. // Invoke "constantFold" (sorry, not written yet. Uses CTFE.) template Fib(uint i) { <cursor>static if ( false ) const Fib = 4; else const Fib = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); } // "lowerStaticIf" may now proceed and finish. template Fib(uint i) { const Fib = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); } // "lowerTemplateDecl"'s !static_if constraint is now satisfied // It mangles the constant identifier and moves it to the root. const _D4main11__T3FibVi4Z3Fibxk = Fib!(4-1) + Fib!(4-2); /**************** The newly substituted declaration gets subjected to further reductions, as that's what happens after a substitution. Another pattern, let's call it "lowerConstDecl", notices the constant declaration sitting there with an /expression/ (oh dear) instead of a literal. It invokes "constantFold". ****************/ // This starts whole process over again. Repeatedly. const _D4main11__T3FibVi0Z3Fibxk = 0; const _D4main11__T3FibVi1Z3Fibxk = 1; const _D4main11__T3FibVi2Z3Fibxk = _D4main11__T3FibVi1Z3Fibxk + _D4main11__T3FibVi0Z3Fibxk; const _D4main11__T3FibVi3Z3Fibxk = _D4main11__T3FibVi2Z3Fibxk + _D4main11__T3FibVi1Z3Fibxk; const _D4main11__T3FibVi4Z3Fibxk = _D4main11__T3FibVi3Z3Fibxk + _D4main11__T3FibVi2Z3Fibxk; // Constant folding continues. const _D4main11__T3FibVi0Z3Fibxk = 0; const _D4main11__T3FibVi1Z3Fibxk = 1; const _D4main11__T3FibVi2Z3Fibxk = 1; const _D4main11__T3FibVi3Z3Fibxk = 2; const _D4main11__T3FibVi4Z3Fibxk = 3; /**************** There is nothing left to do here, so we return to the previous context. ****************/ writefln("Fib == %s", <cursor>Fib!4 ); // The instantiation figures out the mangling. writefln("Fib == %s", <cursor>_D4main11__T3FibVi4Z3Fibxk ); // Done. (for now) writefln("Fib == %s", _D4main11__T3FibVi4Z3Fibxk ); ================================================================= == The more central code in all of this might look like so: const lowerValueTemplateInstantiation = { auto consumes = "value_template_instantiation"; auto produces = ""; auto recognizer = Pattern! // Ex: main.Fib!(4) "ValueTemplateInstantiation $valueTemplateInstatiation has { // Ex: main.Fib IdentifierPath $path; // Ex: (4) // We ask for LiteralExpr here to coerce the engine // into doing constant folding on whatever // expressions where in the argument tuple. ArgsTuple has any_amount_of LiteralExpr $args; }"; auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m) { auto templateDeclNode = m.xdcContext.symbolLookup(m.getCapture!"path"); // This is where the recursion happens: // First, we create a context that we can scope the // template parameters into. auto context = m.xdcContext.push(); scope(exit) m.xdcContext.pop(); // Last, we use the new context to jump to another // location in the AST and tell it to conquer some // template declarations for us. context.declare("args", m.args); auto tmpNode = context.invoke!substituteTemplateParams( templateDeclNode); context.invoke!lowerTemplateDecl(tmpNode); // Mangling will require its own recursive joy ride. // It will probably be simpler though, because it doesn't // require any substitutions. // It helps that we've already ensured that all of the // arguments to the template instantiation have been // reduced to literals by this point, which will be // possible to mangle. (Attempting to mangle an // arbitrary expression would probably be a throwable // offense, or better yet, forces xdc to not compile.) VarExpr e = new VarExpr( m.getCapture!"valueTemplateInstatiation".mangle ); m.captures.add("mangledSymbolReference", e); }; auto synthesizer = Pattern!"$mangledSymbolReference"; return new PatternHandler( produces, consumes, recognizer, action, synthesizer); }; /* This does NOT get registered with the rest of the global match/replace patterns. It should only be invoked by template instantiation handlers, not the xdc engine itself. In particular, it needs the "args" context to be defined. */ const substituteTemplateParams = { // It gets manually invoked, so no need to mention depends. auto consumes = ""; auto produces = ""; auto recognizer = Pattern! // Ex: main.Fib( uint i ) { ... } "TemplateDecl $template has { .parameterList $params; any_amount_of { any_amount_of .; VarExpr $var; } any_amount_of .; }"; auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m) { // Cop out: This might seem like stuff that would be // suited to the pattern-DSL, but I am not yet sure // that I want to even attempt to teach it how to // generate lookup tables to accomplish this kind of // substitute-from-backreference type of work. // The syntax for that might be nasty anyways. // For now, I'll implement it with this D code. AstNode[string] nameLookup; auto params = m.getCapture!"params"; auto args = m.xdcContext.get!"args"; foreach( i, ref param; params ) { // Populate the lookup table. nameLookup[param.identifier] = i; // ... aaaand ... // Turn this copy of the template into an extremely // specialized one where all of the parameters // already have default values (or types). // This will probably be needed for mangling later. param.initializer = args[i].deepCopy(); } // Substitute parameter names appearing in the template // with the corresponding literal from the instatiating // code. foreach( ref varExpr; m.getCapture!"var" ) { size_t i = nameLookup[varExpr.identifier]; varExpr.replaceWith( m, args[i].deepCopy() ); } }; // The necessary substitutions were too complicated for the // pattern language. Thus, they have already been handled // in the action phase. We leave the original template // untouched. auto synthesizer = Pattern!"$template"; return new PatternHandler( produces, consumes, recognizer, action, synthesizer); } /* This does NOT get registered with the rest of the global match/replace patterns. It should only be invoked by template instantiation handlers, not the xdc engine itself. In particular, it needs the template parameters to have already been substituted. */ const lowerTemplateDecl = { // Rejecting static-if statements and static-foreach // will force the invoking context to lower those into // declarations before proceeding with this match attempt. auto consumes = "!static_if, !static_foreach"; auto produces = ""; auto recognizer = Pattern! "TemplateDecl $template has { any_amount_of { DeclStatements $decls; }; }"; auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m) { AstRootNode root = m.xdcContext.getRoot(); foreach( ref decl; m.getCapture!"decls" ) { decl.identifier = decl.mangle; decl.moveTo(root); } }; auto synthesizer = Pattern!""; return new PatternHandler( produces, consumes, recognizer, action, synthesizer); } // This pattern handler goes in the global ("all_semantic") set // of pattern handlers and will cause all template declarations // to disappear once all of the instantiations have been // completed. This is the end of the line for all templates! const cleanupTemplateDecls = { auto consumes = "template_decl"; auto produces = ""; auto recognizer = Pattern! "Root $root has { any_amount_of { any_amount_of not TemplateInstatiation; TemplateDecl $templates; } any_amount_of not TemplateInstatiation; }"; auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m) { foreach( ref template; m.getCapture!"templates" ) template.removeFromTree(); } auto synthesizer = Pattern!"$root"; return new PatternHandler( produces, consumes, recognizer, action, synthesizer); } Of course I'm leaving out some things like template parameter specialization and template constraints. I imagine that things like this (ex: overloading) will probably require some D code to handle. This will likely be natural, since these kinds of things are usually described as a sequence of logical rules or some kind of filter. ================================================================= As for CTFE... I'll have to write that down later. As it is, it already took me a while to write down all of my thoughts on templates. The original post already dropped a lot of hints though. It pretty much involves lowering the to-be-executed code down to something that the interpreter backend can handle, and then invoking the interpreter on it. ================================================================= Other notes and rambling: I am actually going to go after CTFE very early on in xdc's development, specifically because it will be useful for constant folding, template instantiation, and (indirectly) maybe even strings. The process might look like this: - Implement simple builtin types and expressions (char, int, float, int*, 3+4, *(foo + 4), etc.). No arrays, no strings. - Implement CTFE using a very simple interpreter. This gives us an invokable constant folder. - Implement structs. - Implement templates. Templates requiring strings will throw exceptions and fail to compile at this point. (remember: no strings!) - Implement operator overloading. - Implement arrays as a struct-template: struct Array(T) { T* ptr; private size_t len; ... } This code will only be visible to the compiler, and will be used in lowerings whenever needed. This gets us strings. - Implement string literals. (This might get interesting, and may even depend on platform, but it should ultimately do something similar to calling Array!char.__ctor(char *data, size_t len).) - Templates that use strings will now work. - Implement reference counting so the whole thing doesn't leak memory like a sieve. It'd look very different from D's actual history. This is because I consider features like templates and CTFE to be very "low": we can rewrite a lot of other language features into them. For situations where things like operator overloading can't accomplish what the original builtins could do, then there will probably be some necessary compiler magic. I would apply it as conservatively as possible. This might also get dynamically reconfigured depending on platform. Some platforms might already have builtin string types that can be efficiently coerced into behaving like D strings. In those cases you would want to avoid lowering strings into a ptr+length struct, and let the backend grab them first. It may even be efficient/helpful to have the interpreter backend behave like such a platform and just operate on strings directly without first lowering them into a struct. ... Hope that helps.
Jul 21 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Kagamin" <spam here.lot> writes:
On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:18:41 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 If there are still things that you (community inclusive) are 
 afraid of missing, then I am pretty willing to do C99 instead 
 and skip C89.

A standard _Align attribute? You need it, right?
Jul 23 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 15:24:39 UTC, Kagamin wrote:
 On Saturday, 20 July 2013 at 04:18:41 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 If there are still things that you (community inclusive) are 
 afraid of missing, then I am pretty willing to do C99 instead 
 and skip C89.

A standard _Align attribute? You need it, right?

I didn't know that was standard in C99. I'm looking through ISO/IEC 9899:1999 (n1256) and not finding it. That'd be cool to know about; any chance you can point it out? At any rate, I'm actually not sure if you mean member alignment or memory alignment, but I'm pretty sure both are doable using char pointer arithmetic and casting. Hmmm, member alignment would be annoying, but still doable: // D struct Foo { align(1): ubyte a; ushort b; ubyte c; } int main() { Foo f; f.a = 1; f.b = 2; f.c = 3; return 1; } /* C89 */ int main() { char f[4]; *((uint8_t*)(f+0)) = 1; *((uint16_t*)(f+1)) = 2; *((uint8_t*)(f+3)) = 3; return 1; } Caveat: untested code written in a couple minutes.
Jul 23 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Kagamin" <spam here.lot> writes:
It's probably C11. It allows only enlarging the alignment, 
because it's not cross-platform the other way.
Jul 25 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Tofu Ninja" <emmons0 purdue.edu> writes:
On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 Would you pay for this?
 If so, then I might be able to do a kickstarter at some point.
 I am not independently wealthy or retired (or both?) like 
 Walter, nor am I able to survive on zero hours of sleep each 
 night like Andrei, and this would be a big project.  I think it 
 would need full-time attention or it would never become useful 
 in a reasonable timeframe.

If you started a kick starter, I would put some money up, the problem with it is I am not sure you could get enough contributions for something like this unless the whole D community got behind it.
Jul 25 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 20:28:31 UTC, Tofu Ninja wrote:
 If you started a kick starter, I would put some money up, the 
 problem with it is I am not sure you could get enough 
 contributions for something like this unless the whole D 
 community got behind it.

Cool, thanks! I'm willing to throw up a kickstarter and see how well supported it is at that point. It'll just have to wait until I finish any commitments at my job. Even if it doesn't get enough support, it'll be no harm trying.
Jul 25 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Etienne" <etcimon gmail.com> writes:
Many vendors would have their processors supported in D if we had
a D to C compiler. I feel like it would be simpler than going for
native code directly. Did this idea follow-through?

On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it 
 xdc, a loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, 
 see 
 http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/37394/why-do-some-words-have-x-as-a-substitute).
  It could also mean other fun things like "Crossbone D 
 Compiler" (I imagine a logo with some crossbones having a metal 
 D atop where the skull normally goes), "eXperimental D 
 Compiler", or something sounding like "ectasy" ;)

 We usually think of language features as being rewritten into 
 simpler features.  The simple features eventually get rewritten 
 into machine instructions.  Compilers are, fundamentally, 
 responsible for performing "lowering" operations.

 It makes sense to me, then, to make a compiler whose internals 
 /look/ like a bunch of these rewrites and lowering operations.  
 There should be a bunch of input patterns matched to the 
 desired results.  This has the happy side-effect of giving us a 
 pleasant way to do AST manipulations from within D code.

 I've also had a long-standing desire to see D on many more 
 platforms.  It should make an appearance on console platforms 
 and on smartphones.  I've tried doing this with a retargetable 
 compiler like GCC before, and the work was surprisingly large.  
 Even if the compiler already emits code for the target system's 
 CPU, there are still a large number of details involving 
 calling conventions, executable format, and any number of 
 CPU/OS specific tweaks to object file output.  It makes a lot 
 more sense to me to just output C/C++ code and feed that to a 
 native toolchain.  That would skip a lot of the 
 platform-specific nonsense that creates a barrier to entry for 
 people who, say, just want to write a simple game for 
 Android/iPhone/PS(3|4)/etc in D, and don't want to become 
 compiler experts first.  Ideally, some day, this compiler would 
 also emit code or bytecode for Javascript, AS3/Flash, Java, and 
 any other popular targets that the market desires.  This can 
 probably be done with DMD, but I'd like to make the process 
 more approachable, and make backend authoring as easy as 
 possible.  It should be possible (and easy) to tell the 
 compiler exactly what lowerings should be applied before the 
 AST hits the backend.

 xdc should bring all of that cross-platform targeting together 
 with a compiler infrastructure that can blow everything else 
 away (I hope!).

 xdc is my dream for a D compiler that gives us our first step 
 (of few) towards having what haXe has already 
 (http://haxe.org/) : a compiler that can land code just about 
 anywhere.

 What follows is a collection of my thoughts written down as 
 notes.

 == Ideal Outcomes ==

 .- D to C/C++ compiler that can easily reach target platforms 
 that are
 .    currently either unsupported or poorly supported by 
 current D
 .    compilers.
 .   - Useful for game developers wishing to write D code on the
 .       next big console platform.
 .   - Useful for embedded systems developers wishing to write D 
 code
 .       on obscure or potentially proprietary microcontrollers.

 .- Other backends (ex: llvm, Java bytecode, AS3/Flash bytecode, 
 etc)
 .    possible in the future.  Community desires considered when
 .    selecting new backend targets.

 .- Interpreter backend: a notable backend that would be 
 implemented as
 .    a necessity for making CTFE work.  A dedicated interpreter
 .    backend would hopefully be much faster and easier on 
 memory than
 .    DMD's souped-up constant folder.  (Even though DMD has 
 become
 .    considerably better at this in the past year or two.)

 .- Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) manipulation toolchain, possibly 
 usable
 .    in CTFE.  It would work like this:
 .    (1) Pass some D code or Domain Specific Language (DSL) of 
 your
 .          choice (as text) into xdc at compile-time.
 .    (2) xdc returns an AST.
 .    (3) Use xdc's pattern-matching and substitution DSL to
 .          manipulate the AST.
 .    (4) xdc consumes the AST and emits modified D code.
 .    (5) mixin(...) the result.
 .   - If xdc is the compiler used to execute itself in CTFE, 
 then
 .       it might be possible to optimize this by having it 
 expose
 .       itself as a set of intrinsics.

 .- Reference counting available by default on all platforms.
 .   - Gets you into the action with minimal effort and little 
 or no
 .       compiler hacking. (More complete GC tends to require 
 platform
 .       specific ASM and/or operating system API support).

 .- Full garbage collection available if supported.
 .   - Ex: The C backends would default to ref-counting until 
 the ASM
 .       and OS-level code is written to support full GC.
 .   - Ex: A Java backend would probably use the Java JVM by 
 default.

 .- Threading model determined by compiler configuration or 
 available
 .    platform hints.
 .   - Ex: The user may have a posix-threads implementation 
 available,
 .       but know little other details about the target system.  
 It
 .       should be possible for xdc to use pthreads to emulate 
 the
 .       TLS and synchronization mechanisms needed to make D 
 tick.
 .       (Or at least emulate as many features as possible.)
 .   - Ex: Possible "no threading" target for people who don't 
 need
 .       threading but DO need other D features to be available 
 NOW
 .       on an alien platform.  Errors when the source code 
 passed
 .       into xdc assumes that threading features are present.

 .- D compiler that is easy to hack on.
 .   - "Looks like the problem it solves."
 .       (To quote Walter's DConf2013 keynote.)
 .   - Made of a bunch of patterns that describe
 .       code rewrites/lowerings.
 .   - Few or no null value checks necessary.
 .      - null checks don't look like pattern matching or 
 lowering.
 .   - Few or no convoluted if-while-if-for-etc nests.
 .      - These also don't look like pattern matching or 
 lowering.
 .   - It should be largely made of "pattern handlers" (see 
 below).
 .   - Each pattern handler will have one part that closely 
 resembles
 .       the AST fragment for the D code that it recognizes, and
 .       another part that resembles the lowered form that it 
 outputs.
 .   - Dependency analysis that prevents your AST manipulation 
 from
 .       happening either too early or too late.
 .   - Because the code that actually does lowerings is 
 generated from
 .       a DSL, it is possible to make it automate a lot of 
 tedious
 .       tasks, like updating the symbol table when nodes are 
 added or
 .       removed from the AST.
 .   - This makes it easier to test experimental features.

 .- A step-by-step view of what the compiler is doing to your 
 code.
 .   - Since the semantic analysis of xdc would be composed of
 .      "pattern handlers" (see below), then each time one of 
 them
 .      completes the compiler could output the result of calling
 .      .toString() (or .toDCode() or whatever) on the entire 
 AST.
 .   - This could be attached to an ncurses interface that would 
 be
 .      activated by passing a flag to the compiler, which would 
 then
 .      proceed to show the AST at every stage of compilation.
 .      Press ENTER to see the next step, etc.
 .   - This could also be exposed as API functionality that IDEs 
 could
 .      use to show developers how the compiler sees their code.

 .- D code analysis engine that might be usable to automatically
 .    translate D1 code into D2 code, or maybe D2 into D3 in the 
 far
 .    future.

 == Architectural Overview ==

 .- xdc will largely consist of "pattern handlers" that recognize
 .    patterns in its AST and replace them with AST fragments 
 that
 .    contain successively fewer high-level features (lowering).
 .   - These pattern handlers would feature a DSL that should 
 make
 .       the whole task fairly easy.
 .   - The DSL proposed would be similar to regular expressions 
 in
 .       semantics but different in syntax.
 .      - It will have operators for choice, repetition, optional
 .          matches, capturing, and so on.
 .      - The DSL must support nested structures well.
 .      - The DSL must support vertical layout of patterns well.
 .      - Because of the vertical patterns, most operators will 
 either
 .          be prefix or will be written in block style:
 .          some_block_header { block_stmt1; block_stmt2; etc; }
 .      - Actions like entering and leaving nodes are given 
 their own
 .          special syntax.  The machine will treat them like 
 tokens
 .          that can be matched the same as any AST node.  
 Notably,
 .          node-entry and node-exit do not require introducing
 .          non-regular elements to the DSL.  node-entry and 
 node-exit
 .          may be subsumed into Deterministic Finite Automatons 
 (DFAs).
 .   - An example pattern handler might look like this:

 const lowerWhileStatement =
 {
 	// Apologies in advance if this isn't actually valid D code:
 	//   This is a design sketch and I currently don't have a way 
 to compile it.
 	//
 	// The Pattern template, PatternMatch template, and 
 PatternHandler class
 	//   have not yet been written.  This is an example of how I 
 might expect
 	//   them to be used.
 	//

 	auto consumes = "while_statement";
 	auto produces = "if_statement","goto","label");
 	
 	auto recognizer = Pattern!
 		"WhileStatement has
 		{
 			// Capture the conditional expression (call it \"expr\") and
 			//   capture the loop body (call it \"statement\").
 			.expression $expr;
 			.statement  $statement has
 			{
 				// Capture any continue/break statements.
 				any_amount_of {
 					any_amount_of .; // Same as .* in regexes.
 					one_of
 					{
 						ContinueStatement $continues;
 						BreakStatement    $breaks;
 					}
 				}
 				any_amount_of .;
 			}
 		}";
 	
 	auto action = (PatternMatch!(recognizer) m)
 	{
 		m.captures.add("uniqLoopAgain", 
 getUniqueLabel(syntaxNode.enclosingScope))
 		m.captures.add("uniqExitLoop", 
 getUniqueLabel(syntaxNode.enclosingScope))
 		
 		// The "recognizes" clause defines m.getCapture!"continues" 
 with:
 		//   "ContinueStatement $continues;"
 		// That line appears in a repitition context 
 ("any_amount_of") and is
 		//   therefore typed as an array.
 		foreach( ref node; m.getCapture!"continues" )
 			node.replaceWith( m, "GotoStatement has $uniqLoopAgain" )
 		
 		// Ditto for m.getCapture!"breaks" and "BreakStatement 
 $breaks;".
 		foreach( ref node; m.getCapture!"breaks" )
 			node.replaceWith( m, "GotoStatement has $uniqExitLoop" )
 	};
 	
 	auto synthesizer = Pattern!
 		"Label has $uniqLoopAgain
 		IfStatement has
 		{
 			OpNegate has $expr
 			GotoStatement has $uniqExitLoop
 		}
 		$statement
 		GotoStatement has $uniqLoopAgain
 		Label has $uniqExitLoop
 		";

 	return new PatternHandler(produces, consumes, recognizer, 
 action, synthesizer);
 };

 (Also available at: http://pastebin.com/0mBQxhLs )

 .- Dispatch to pattern handlers is performed by the execution 
 of a
 .    DFA/Packrat hybrid instead of the traditional OOP 
 inheritance
 .    with method calls.
 .   - Each pattern handler's recognizer gets treated like a 
 regex
 .       or Parsing Expression Grammar (PEG) fragment.
 .   - All of the recognizers in the same semantic pass are 
 pasted
 .       together in an ordered-choice expression.  The ordering 
 is
 .       determined by dependency analysis.
 .   - A recognizer's pattern handler is invoked when the 
 recognizer's
 .       AST expression is matched.
 .   - Once any substitutions are completed, then the machine 
 executing
 .       the pattern engine will set its cursor to the beginning 
 of
 .       the newly substituted AST nodes and continue running.
 .   - Executing potentially hundreds of pattern handlers in a 
 single
 .       ordered-choice expression would be obnoxious for a 
 packrat
 .       parser (packrat machine?).  Thankfully, ordered-choice 
 is
 .       possible in regular grammars, so it can be lowered into 
 regex
 .       operations and the whole thing turned into a DFA.
 .   - If pattern recognizers end up needing recursive elements,
 .       then they will probably not appear at the very 
 beginning of
 .       the pattern.  Patterns with enough regular elements at 
 the
 .       start will be able to merge those regular elements into 
 the
 .       DFA with the rest of the pattern recognizers, and it all
 .       becomes very fast table lookups in small tables.

 .- This compiler would involve the creation of a 
 parser-generator
 .    API that allows code to programmatically create grammars, 
 and
 .    to do so without a bunch of clumsy string formatting and 
 string
 .    concatenation.
 .   - These grammars could be written such that things like AST 
 nodes
 .       are seen as terminals.  This expands possibilities and 
 allows
 .       all of the pattern handlers to be coalesced into a 
 grammar
 .       that operates on ASTs and fires off semantic actions 
 whenever
 .       one of the recognizer patterns gets tickled by the 
 right AST
 .       fragment.
 .   - Using strings as terminals is still cool; and necessary 
 for
 .       xdc's text/D-code parser.
 .   - A simple parser-generator API example:

 ---------------------------------------
 string makeParser()
 {
 	auto builder = new ParserBuilder!char;
 	builder.pushSequence();
 		builder.literal('x');
 		builder.pushMaybe();
 			builder.literal('y');
 		builder.pop();
 	builder.pop();
 	return builder.toDCode("callMe");
 }

 const foo = makeParser();

 pragma(msg, foo);
 ---------------------------------------
 Current output:
 http://pastebin.com/V3E0Ubbc
 ---------------------------------------

 .   - Humans would probably never directly write grammars using 
 this
 .       API; it is intended for use by code that needs to write
 .       grammars.  xdc would be such code: it's given a bunch of
 .       pattern handlers and needs to turn them into a grammar.
 .   - This API could also make it easier to write the parser
 .       generators that humans /would/ use. For example, it 
 could be
 .       used as an experimental backend for a regular expression
 .       engine that can handle limited recursion.
 .   - The packrats usually generated from PEGs are nice and 
 all, but
 .       I'd really like to generate DFAs whenever possible, 
 because
 .       those seem to be regarded as being /very fast/.
 .   - DFAs can't handle the recursive elements of PEGs, but they
 .       should be able to handle everything non-recursive that
 .       precedes or follows the recursive elements.
 .   - The parser-generator API would be responsible for 
 aggressively
 .       converting PEG-like elements into regex/DFA elements 
 whenever
 .       possible.
 .   - Regular expressions can be embedded in PEGs as long as 
 you tell
 .       them how much text to match.  You have to give them 
 concrete
 .       success/failure conditions that can be determined 
 without
 .       help from the rest of the PEG: things like "match as 
 many
 .       characters as possible" or "match as few characters as
 .       possible".  Without that, the regex's backtracking 
 (DFA'd
 .       or otherwise) won't mesh with the PEG.  Give it a 
 concrete
 .       win/fail condition, however, and the embedded regex 
 becomes
 .       just another PEG building block that chews through some
 .       source material and yields a yes/no result.  Such 
 regular
 .       expressions allow DFAs to be introduced into a recursive
 .       descent or packrat parser.
 .   - Many PEG elements can be converted into these well-behaved
 .       regular expressions.
 .      - PEG repetition is just regular expression repetition 
 with
 .          a wrapper around it that says "match as many 
 characters
 .          as possible".
 .      - PEG ordered choice can be lowered into regular 
 expression
 .          unordered choice, which can then be converted into 
 DFAs:
 .          I suspect that this is true: (uv/xy)c == 
 (uv|(^(uv)&xy))c
 .          (or, by De Morgan's law: (uv/xy)c == 
 (uv|(^(uv|^(xy))))c )
 .          & is intersection.
 .          ^ is negation.
 .          Each letter (u,v,x,y,c) can be a subexpression
 .            (non-recursive).
 .      - PEG label matching can be inlined up to the point where
 .          recursion occurs, thus allowing more elements to be
 .          considered for DFA conversion.
 .      - etc.

 .- The parser would be defined using a PEG (most likely using 
 Pegged
 .    specifically).
 .   - Although Pegged is an awesome achievement, I suspect its 
 output
 .       could be improved considerably.  The templated code it
 .       generates is slow to compile and ALWAYS allocates parse
 .       tree nodes at every symbol.
 .   - I want to experiment with making Pegged (or a branch of 
 it) emit
 .       DFA/Packrat parser hybrids.  This could be done by 
 making a
 .       version of Pegged that uses the aforementioned
 .       parser-generator API to create its parsers.
 .   - Design principle:  avoid memory allocations like the 
 plague.
 .       The output should be a well-pruned AST, and not just a 
 parse
 .       tree that causes a bunch of allocations and needs 
 massaging to
 .       become useful.
 .   - I really like Pegged and would contribute this stuff 
 upward, if
 .       accepted.

 .- When hacking on xdc, you don't need to be aware of WHEN your 
 code
 .    code gets executed in semantic analysis.  The dependency 
 analysis
 .    will guarantee that it always gets performed both
 .    (a) when it's needed, and (b) when it has what it needs.
 .   - This is what the "consumes" and "produces" variables are 
 all
 .       about in the above example.

 .- Successfully lowering a D AST into the target backend's 
 input will
 .    almost certainly require multiple passes.  xdc's dependency
 .    analyzer would automatically minimize the number of passes 
 by
 .    looking for patterns that are "siblings" in the dependency 
 graph
 .    (eg. neither depends on the other) and bunching as many 
 such
 .    patterns as possible into each pass.
 .   - It really shouldn't generate very many more than the 
 number of
 .       passes that DMD has coded into it.  Ideally: no more 
 than DMD,
 .       if not fewer.
 .   - I'd like to make the dependency analyzer output a graph 
 that
 .       can be used to track which patterns cause which passes 
 to
 .       exist, and show which patterns are in which passes.

 .- Planned availability of backends.
 .   - My first pick for a backend would be an ANSI C89 target.  
 I feel
 .       that this would give it the most reach.
 .   - The interpreter backend is along for the ride, as 
 mentioned.
 .   - Because the semantic analysis is composed of distinct and
 .       loosely-coupled patterns, it is possible for xdc to 
 generate
 .       an analysis chain with the minimum number of lowerings 
 needed
 .       for a given backend.
 .      - The interpreter backend would benefit from having the 
 most
 .          lowerings.  By requiring a lot of lowering, the 
 interpreter
 .          would only need to support a small number of 
 constructs:
 .         - if statements
 .         - gotos
 .         - function calls
 .         - arithmetic expression evaluation
 .         - builtin types (byte, short, int, long, float, 
 double, etc)
 .         - pointers
 .         - Even structs are unnecessary: they can be seen as
 .             typed dereferencing of untyped pointers.
 .      - The C backend would benefit from slightly less 
 lowering than
 .         the interpreter backend.  It is useful for debugging 
 if
 .         you can mostly-sorta read the resulting C code, and 
 your
 .         C compiler will appreciate the extra optimization
 .         opportunities.
 .         - Looping constructs like while and for are welcome 
 here.
 .         - structs would be more readable.
 .      - In the future, a Java or C# backend might use an 
 entirely
 .          different set of lowerings in later passes.
 .         - Pointers are no longer considered "low".
 .         - Classes should be kept as long as possible;
 .             I'm pretty sure they bytecode (at least for Java)
 .             has opcodes dedicated to classes.  Removing them
 .             may cause pessimisation.
 .      - The backend writer should not have to worry about 
 rewriting
 .          the semantic analysis to suit their needs.  They 
 just define
 .          some features and say which ones they need available 
 in the
 .          AST, and xdc's semantic-analysis-generator will 
 handle the
 .          rest.
 .   - Notably, a backend should just be more lowerings, with the
 .       result being text or binary code instead of AST nodes.
 .      - Backends are essentially defined by the set of 
 AST/language
 .          features that they consume and any special lowerings 
 needed
 .          to convert generic AST/language features into
 .          backend-specific AST/language features.


 == Closing Thoughts ==

 I am realizing that there are multiple reasons that compel me 
 to write this document:
 - To share my ideas with others, on the off-chance that someone 
 else might see this vision too and be better equipped to 
 deliver.
 - To suggest capabilities that any community-endorsed compiler 
 tool (ex: compiler-as-a-ctfe-library) should have.
 - To see if I might be able to get the help I need to make it a 
 reality.

 I just can't decide which reasons are more important.  But 
 there is a common thread: I want this vision to become reality 
 and do really cool things while filling a bunch of missing 
 links in D's ecosystem.

 I have to ask:

 Would you pay for this?
 If so, then I might be able to do a kickstarter at some point.
 I am not independently wealthy or retired (or both?) like 
 Walter, nor am I able to survive on zero hours of sleep each 
 night like Andrei, and this would be a big project.  I think it 
 would need full-time attention or it would never become useful 
 in a reasonable timeframe.

 Also, assuming you understand the design, are there any gaping 
 holes in this?
 This is my first attempt to share these ideas with a larger 
 group, and thus an opportunity to anticipate troubles.

 ...

 Well, I'm anxious to see how well the venerable D community 
 receives this bundle of ideas.  Be chatty.  I'll try to keep up.

 Thank you for reading.

Nov 08 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent reply "nazriel" <spam dzfl.pl> writes:
On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it 
 xdc, a loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, 
 see
...
 Thank you for reading.

I think C backend is a good idea. AFAIK, Amber [1] people do something like that. They simultaneously wrote support for four backends [2]: - LLVM - C - JSON - so called NullBackend I think it worked out quite well. [1] https://bitbucket.org/larsivi/amber/src [2] https://bitbucket.org/larsivi/amber/src/0cbdb35b8eec458b75572ac457baa9e47d3e76cd/amber?at=default
Nov 09 2013
parent reply Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
On 11/9/13 9:14 AM, nazriel wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it xdc, a
 loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, see
 ...
 Thank you for reading.

I think C backend is a good idea.

I think C is not a good back-end language. Other backend generators usually have a white paper explaining why... http://www.cminusminus.org/ Andrei
Nov 09 2013
next sibling parent reply "Daniel Murphy" <yebblies nospamgmail.com> writes:
"Andrei Alexandrescu" <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> wrote in message 
news:l5madp$1p24$1 digitalmars.com...
 On 11/9/13 9:14 AM, nazriel wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it xdc, a
 loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, see
 ...
 Thank you for reading.

I think C backend is a good idea.

I think C is not a good back-end language. Other backend generators usually have a white paper explaining why... http://www.cminusminus.org/ Andrei

That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C. I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked quite well. However - most of the work is in creating a runtime that will work correctly on the target platform. If your desired target is anything that llvm or gcc supports, I would recommend using ldc/gdc instead of doing it all from scratch.
Nov 09 2013
next sibling parent reply "Daniel Murphy" <yebblies nospamgmail.com> writes:
"deadalnix" <deadalnix gmail.com> wrote in message 
news:juoauplfttovsmbrafzh forum.dlang.org...
 On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 04:54:18 UTC, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C.

 I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked quite
 well.

Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?

I didn't. This was focussed on a subset suitable for microcontrollers. I would probably emit C++ instead if exceptions were required.
Nov 09 2013
parent reply Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
On 11/9/13 9:37 PM, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 "deadalnix" <deadalnix gmail.com> wrote in message
 news:juoauplfttovsmbrafzh forum.dlang.org...
 On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 04:54:18 UTC, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C.

 I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked quite
 well.

Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?

I didn't. This was focussed on a subset suitable for microcontrollers. I would probably emit C++ instead if exceptions were required.

That doesn't quite rhyme with C being a good backend language :o). Andrei
Nov 09 2013
parent "Daniel Murphy" <yebblies nospamgmail.com> writes:
"Andrei Alexandrescu" <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> wrote in message 
news:l5n7iq$2op2$1 digitalmars.com...
 On 11/9/13 9:37 PM, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 "deadalnix" <deadalnix gmail.com> wrote in message
 news:juoauplfttovsmbrafzh forum.dlang.org...
 On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 04:54:18 UTC, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C.

 I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked 
 quite
 well.

Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?

I didn't. This was focussed on a subset suitable for microcontrollers. I would probably emit C++ instead if exceptions were required.

That doesn't quite rhyme with C being a good backend language :o). Andrei

I guess it's not for the full language, but if you can't use gdc or llvm, chances are your platform is too constrained to use exceptions. I don't mean C is capable of representing everything, but it can handle a large and useful subset.
Nov 10 2013
prev sibling parent reply Walter Bright <newshound2 digitalmars.com> writes:
On 11/9/2013 9:27 PM, deadalnix wrote:
 On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 04:54:18 UTC, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C.

 I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked quite
 well.

Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?

Exceptions is one big problem. Another is COMDATs - C compilers don't emit them. COMDATs are needed to support templates (they remove duplicate instances). And TLS.
Nov 10 2013
next sibling parent Walter Bright <newshound2 digitalmars.com> writes:
On 11/11/2013 6:34 PM, Chad Joan wrote:
 This whole mess can be done away with by removing the "linking" step in
 compilation,

That's not really an option if you intend to use C as a back end.
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling parent Jacob Carlborg <doob me.com> writes:
On 2013-11-10 09:20, Walter Bright wrote:

 Exceptions is one big problem. Another is COMDATs - C compilers don't
 emit them. COMDATs are needed to support templates (they remove
 duplicate instances).

 And TLS.

What about the EDG C++ compiler, doesn't that output C code? -- /Jacob Carlborg
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling parent Andrei Alexandrescu <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> writes:
On 11/11/13 5:53 PM, Chad Joan wrote:
 On Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 21:45:30 UTC, Andrei Alexandrescu wrote:
 On 11/9/13 9:14 AM, nazriel wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it xdc, a
 loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, see
 ...
 Thank you for reading.

I think C backend is a good idea.

I think C is not a good back-end language. Other backend generators usually have a white paper explaining why... http://www.cminusminus.org/ Andrei

What would you suggest as an alternative for targeting disparate hardware like microcontrollers (ALL of them), newly released game consoles, and legacy platforms that could use D for migration tools (like OpenVMS on IA64)? Oh, and I want instantaneous release times. I need to be able to stick the compiler on a machine it has NEVER seen and say, "Use POSIX libraries to fulfill Phobos' deps. Use reference counting. DO WORK!". Or maybe I would say, "Ditch Phobos, we in da sticks. Use reference counting. GOGOGO!" And I want to be running my D program 5 minutes later. Let me initially dismiss these: LLVM: not /everywhere/ yet, and missing on many of the targets I mentioned. C--: also not everywhere; this is the first I've heard of it. Java/Javascript/.NET: Actually also good backends, but a different ecosystems. Thus, I suggest that C is an AWESOME backend (with C++ for exceptions, but ONLY if it's available). Destroy :)

Fine with me. I have no stake in this. I don't see how you reach the conclusion that C is "awesome" given it makes exceptions tenuous to implement. It does have the advantage of being universally available. If that's everything you need, sure. Andrei
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "deadalnix" <deadalnix gmail.com> writes:
On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 04:54:18 UTC, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C.

 I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it 
 worked quite
 well.

Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?
Nov 09 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent Iain Buclaw <ibuclaw ubuntu.com> writes:
--047d7bea3f3083f1e204eacf43f1
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

On 10 November 2013 04:54, Daniel Murphy <yebblies nospamgmail.com> wrote:

 "Andrei Alexandrescu" <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> wrote in message
 news:l5madp$1p24$1 digitalmars.com...
 On 11/9/13 9:14 AM, nazriel wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call it xdc, a
 loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, see
 ...
 Thank you for reading.

I think C backend is a good idea.

I think C is not a good back-end language. Other backend generators usually have a white paper explaining why... http://www.cminusminus.org/ Andrei

That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C. I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked quite well. However - most of the work is in creating a runtime that will work correctly on the target platform. If your desired target is anything that llvm or gcc supports, I would recommend using ldc/gdc instead of doing it all from scratch.

-- Iain Buclaw *(p < e ? p++ : p) = (c & 0x0f) + '0'; --047d7bea3f3083f1e204eacf43f1 Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable <div dir=3D"ltr"><div class=3D"gmail_extra"><div class=3D"gmail_quote">On 1= 0 November 2013 04:54, Daniel Murphy <span dir=3D"ltr">&lt;<a href=3D"mailt= o:yebblies nospamgmail.com" target=3D"_blank">yebblies nospamgmail.com</a>&= gt;</span> wrote:<br> <blockquote class=3D"gmail_quote" style=3D"margin:0 0 0 .8ex;border-left:1p= x #ccc solid;padding-left:1ex">&quot;Andrei Alexandrescu&quot; &lt;<a href= =3D"mailto:SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org">SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org</a>= &gt; wrote in message<br> news:l5madp$1p24$1 digitalmars.com...<br> <div><div class=3D"h5">&gt; On 11/9/13 9:14 AM, nazriel wrote:<br> &gt;&gt; On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:<br> &gt;&gt;&gt; I&#39;d like to present my vision for a new D compiler. =A0I c= all it xdc, a<br> &gt;&gt;&gt; loose abbreviation for &quot;Cross D Compiler&quot; (if confus= ed, see<br> &gt;&gt;&gt; ...<br> &gt;&gt;&gt; Thank you for reading.<br> &gt;&gt;<br> &gt;&gt; I think C backend is a good idea.<br> &gt;<br> &gt; I think C is not a good back-end language. Other backend generators<br=

nusminus.org/" target=3D"_blank">http://www.cminusminus.org/</a><br> &gt;<br> &gt; Andrei<br> &gt;<br> &gt;<br> <br> </div></div>That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto C.= <br> <br> I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it worked quite<b= r> well.<br> <br> However - most of the work is in creating a runtime that will work correctl= y<br> on the target platform. =A0If your desired target is anything that llvm or = gcc<br> supports, I would recommend using ldc/gdc instead of doing it all from<br> scratch.<br> <br> </blockquote></div><br></div><div class=3D"gmail_extra">Especially gdc. Cro= ss-platform support needs all the love it can get. ;-)<br clear=3D"all"></d= iv><div class=3D"gmail_extra"><br>-- <br>Iain Buclaw<br><br>*(p &lt; e ? p+= + : p) =3D (c &amp; 0x0f) + &#39;0&#39;; </div></div> --047d7bea3f3083f1e204eacf43f1--
Nov 10 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Kai Nacke" <kai redstar.de> writes:
On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I think a C backend would get us farther than an LLVM backend.

Hi, LLVM has a C++ backend in the git tree. The old C backend is still maintained outside the git tree (search the dev mailing list for an url). So if you like C-output, you can start with LDC today. For sure, you have to port druntime to this new environemnt... Regards, Kai
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Dejan Lekic" <dejan.lekic gmail.com> writes:
I will definitely back up this project on kickstarter, if the 
mentioned Java backend is going to be somewhere at the top 
priorities. Being able to target JVM is extremely important to me.

Before you do the kickstarter please make a list of features that 
you plan to be in XDC after the release, and when do you plan the 
release to happen.
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Monday, 11 November 2013 at 08:11:06 UTC, Kai Nacke wrote:
 On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I think a C backend would get us farther than an LLVM backend.

Hi, LLVM has a C++ backend in the git tree. The old C backend is still maintained outside the git tree (search the dev mailing list for an url). So if you like C-output, you can start with LDC today. For sure, you have to port druntime to this new environemnt... Regards, Kai

Is there any built-in support for using this C++ backend in LDC right now? Something like "ldc --target=c++ main.d -o main.cpp"? This seems very promising. I would still want to write xdc for other reasons, but I have more immediate use for a D compiler that can output C/C++ code. If it works, I would probably down-prioritize C/C++ output in xdc and instead retarget on something more needed (like Java bytecode or Javascript).
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 21:45:30 UTC, Andrei Alexandrescu 
wrote:
 On 11/9/13 9:14 AM, nazriel wrote:
 On Thursday, 18 July 2013 at 01:21:44 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I'd like to present my vision for a new D compiler.  I call 
 it xdc, a
 loose abbreviation for "Cross D Compiler" (if confused, see
 ...
 Thank you for reading.

I think C backend is a good idea.

I think C is not a good back-end language. Other backend generators usually have a white paper explaining why... http://www.cminusminus.org/ Andrei

What would you suggest as an alternative for targeting disparate hardware like microcontrollers (ALL of them), newly released game consoles, and legacy platforms that could use D for migration tools (like OpenVMS on IA64)? Oh, and I want instantaneous release times. I need to be able to stick the compiler on a machine it has NEVER seen and say, "Use POSIX libraries to fulfill Phobos' deps. Use reference counting. DO WORK!". Or maybe I would say, "Ditch Phobos, we in da sticks. Use reference counting. GOGOGO!" And I want to be running my D program 5 minutes later. Let me initially dismiss these: LLVM: not /everywhere/ yet, and missing on many of the targets I mentioned. C--: also not everywhere; this is the first I've heard of it. Java/Javascript/.NET: Actually also good backends, but a different ecosystems. Thus, I suggest that C is an AWESOME backend (with C++ for exceptions, but ONLY if it's available). Destroy :)
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 08:21:37 UTC, Walter Bright wrote:
 On 11/9/2013 9:27 PM, deadalnix wrote:
 On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 04:54:18 UTC, Daniel Murphy 
 wrote:
 That is true in general, but D actually maps quite well onto 
 C.

 I did some work on creating a C backend a while back, and it 
 worked quite
 well.

Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?

Exceptions is one big problem. Another is COMDATs - C compilers don't emit them. COMDATs are needed to support templates (they remove duplicate instances). And TLS.

This seems like it matters when linking D code to D code. Other language's wouldn't care about D's templates. I imagine that in most cases it would be possible to just compile the D code together. This whole mess can be done away with by removing the "linking" step in compilation, which is what I'd recommend for a compiler that is designed to output things that aren't object files. The compiler should be able to dedup templates internally when doing AST manipulation. I actually /expect/ this. The only reasons to output object files, that I can think of right now, are as follows: - Obfuscation is desired in the output. - Incremental compiling. To meet those needs, the following approaches could be used: - Obfuscation: A compiler without a linkable output format could support an "obfuscation" target that would output obfuscated D code for later compiling in a 3rd party's hands. - Incremental Compiling: This is usually done to help with terrible build times. A compiler without a linkable output format could offer a "do as much as you can" target that outputs D code that is lowered as far as it can possibly be lowered without being fed more information. At that point, D might be nearly as fast as the linker, at least in human terms.
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 12:24:59 UTC, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 "Andrei Alexandrescu" <SeeWebsiteForEmail erdani.org> wrote in 
 message
 news:l5n7iq$2op2$1 digitalmars.com...
 On 11/9/13 9:37 PM, Daniel Murphy wrote:
 "deadalnix" <deadalnix gmail.com> wrote in message
 news:juoauplfttovsmbrafzh forum.dlang.org...
 Out of curiosity, how do you handle exceptions ?

I didn't. This was focussed on a subset suitable for microcontrollers. I would probably emit C++ instead if exceptions were required.

That doesn't quite rhyme with C being a good backend language :o). Andrei

I guess it's not for the full language, but if you can't use gdc or llvm, chances are your platform is too constrained to use exceptions. I don't mean C is capable of representing everything, but it can handle a large and useful subset.

My ideal is to have exceptions in C anyways. I don't understand why people are so afraid of this. It's doable in very portable ways, and D's nothrow attribute gives a good hint to the compiler that can be used to avoid performance drains in inappropriate places. I think that setjmp/longjmp comes to mind most of the time because it is what people would normally use in C if they have to write the C code by hand. This is one approach that I would have a compiler optionally emit, controllable by a command-line flag (--c-exceptions=sjlj or somesuch). There is a different approach that I'd want to try first: alter the calling convention and always pass an exception object as the first argument (but only if the called function can throw). Given this example: ----------------------------------------------------------------- float baz(int a); void foo() { int a = 42; // do stuff float b = baz(a); // do other stuff } float bar() { try return baz(9); catch( Exception e ) return 0.0; } -------------------------------- The D->C compiler would emit code like so: ----------------------------------------------------------------- float baz(Exception *exception, int a); void foo(Exception *exception) { int a = 42; // do stuff float b = baz(exception, a); if ( exception->thrown ) return; // do other stuff } float bar(Exception *exception) { float result = baz(exception, 9); if ( exception->thrown ) goto ExceptionHandler1; return result; ExceptionHandler1: Exception *e = exception; (void)e; return 0.0; } -------------------------------- (Name mangling omitted for the sake of sanity.) This is not something that you'd want to do by hand when writing C-code, though that doesn't stop people from trying to poorly approximate it using integer return values ;) It would integrate nicely with scope, because the compiler would know where to put all of the goto statements and labels. It's also made of pointers, ifs, goto's, and labels: stuff that any usable C compiler should have. Super portable. The drawback: This would, of course, not link nicely with code generated by other D compilers. I don't mind this at all though, because if you're using this then it's probably because there aren't any other D compilers supporting your platform anyways. I've already written a bunch of C code that emulates exception handling + scope statements using setjmp/longjmp, and I really wish that a compiler could write better optimized C code /for/ me.
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 04:46:14 UTC, Etienne wrote:
 Many vendors would have their processors supported in D if we 
 had
 a D to C compiler. I feel like it would be simpler than going 
 for
 native code directly. Did this idea follow-through?

No, not yet I'm afraid. At least not for xdc. Here's the lowdown: The future of xdc will be determined by whether or not I can save up enough money to reliably support myself between the time I would leave my current job and the time I would be compensated by means of crowdsourcing. In the middle there I would need to create some kind of working demo, make a good pitch, talk to a bunch of writers and programmer communities, etc etc, all while burning precious savings. If, before any of that, I get recruited by another company with a non-terrible (and possibly /good/) codebase (like Sociomantic or Facebook), then we would be able to consider the whole idea effectively cancelled before it can start. As great for /me/ as it would be to write D code for a job, I just don't see it being a boon to xdc: companies usually hire folks to work on the company's stuff, not the employee's stuff. But, if I end up sticking with my current job, then at some point I may just go out on my own and make things happen. Time will tell. That said, if all you want is a C/C++ backend, then Kai's recent post on this thread brings up a possibility that seems unexplored, as of yet: http://forum.dlang.org/post/psqajaggngbuctqfrrnc forum.dlang.org Maybe that'll get you there in more certain terms.
Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Kelly" <wilsonk cpsc.ucalgary.ca> writes:
Hey Chad,

It looks like you have put a lot of thought and effort into
this from your posts. Nice work.

I am one of the developers of Amber and we do have a C backend,
as nazriel pointed out earlier in the thread. It supports
exceptions (sjlj and seh depending on the flag and platform).
We support clang, gcc, dmc, tcc and msvc...though I have really
only been testing gcc and clang lately.

I can't say we have perfect coverage of exceptions, and
templates are a little behind with the C backend when compared
to the llvm backend also, but we actually pass more tests in
our testsuite with the CBE than LLVMBE.

Amber is an offshoot of D1, with some small parts of D2 where
it made sense, so it may not be very close to what you are
looking for, but it might be worth checking out. It compiles
best on linux with dmd and ldc 1.074 and needs Tango to compile
(Tango is also our main standard lib for Amber...though we can
only compile about 25-30% of Tango with the Amber compiler right
now).

Good luck with xdc, whichever way you go with it.

Thanks,
Kelly


On Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 03:51:21 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 On Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 04:46:14 UTC, Etienne wrote:
 Many vendors would have their processors supported in D if we 
 had
 a D to C compiler. I feel like it would be simpler than going 
 for
 native code directly. Did this idea follow-through?

No, not yet I'm afraid. At least not for xdc. Here's the lowdown: The future of xdc will be determined by whether or not I can save up enough money to reliably support myself between the time I would leave my current job and the time I would be compensated by means of crowdsourcing. In the middle there I would need to create some kind of working demo, make a good pitch, talk to a bunch of writers and programmer communities, etc etc, all while burning precious savings. If, before any of that, I get recruited by another company with a non-terrible (and possibly /good/) codebase (like Sociomantic or Facebook), then we would be able to consider the whole idea effectively cancelled before it can start. As great for /me/ as it would be to write D code for a job, I just don't see it being a boon to xdc: companies usually hire folks to work on the company's stuff, not the employee's stuff. But, if I end up sticking with my current job, then at some point I may just go out on my own and make things happen. Time will tell. That said, if all you want is a C/C++ backend, then Kai's recent post on this thread brings up a possibility that seems unexplored, as of yet: http://forum.dlang.org/post/psqajaggngbuctqfrrnc forum.dlang.org Maybe that'll get you there in more certain terms.

Nov 11 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 05:49:23 UTC, Andrei Alexandrescu 
wrote:
 On 11/11/13 5:53 PM, Chad Joan wrote:
 What would you suggest as an alternative for targeting 
 disparate
 hardware like microcontrollers (ALL of them), newly released 
 game
 consoles, and legacy platforms that could use D for migration 
 tools
 (like OpenVMS on IA64)?

 Oh, and I want instantaneous release times.  I need to be able 
 to stick
 the compiler on a machine it has NEVER seen and say, "Use POSIX
 libraries to fulfill Phobos' deps.  Use reference counting.  
 DO WORK!".
 Or maybe I would say, "Ditch Phobos, we in da sticks.  Use 
 reference
 counting.  GOGOGO!"  And I want to be running my D program 5 
 minutes later.

 Let me initially dismiss these:
 LLVM: not /everywhere/ yet, and missing on many of the targets 
 I mentioned.
 C--: also not everywhere; this is the first I've heard of it.
 Java/Javascript/.NET: Actually also good backends, but a 
 different
 ecosystems.

 Thus, I suggest that C is an AWESOME backend (with C++ for 
 exceptions,
 but ONLY if it's available).  Destroy :)

Fine with me. I have no stake in this. I don't see how you reach the conclusion that C is "awesome" given it makes exceptions tenuous to implement. It does have the advantage of being universally available. If that's everything you need, sure. Andrei

I call it "awesome" because you seem to have objections to the whole notion, and your objections are usually very interesting. So I'm just pulling your chain in the hopes that you bestow insights on me :) Honestly, I look forward to being able to implement exception handling in C! It sounds like a fun couple coding sessions waiting to happen. I already did it with C macros, so giving me an entire code generator to work with might make it /too/ easy. And it scratches an itch that current compiler's can't (well, maybe LDC is catching up). Perhaps this is just the difference between choosing a good IR (which C is not) and choosing a good compilation target (where C is needed).
Nov 12 2013
prev sibling next sibling parent "Chad Joan" <chadjoan gmail.com> writes:
On Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 06:40:25 UTC, Kelly wrote:
 ...

 Amber is an offshoot of D1, with some small parts of D2 where
 it made sense, so it may not be very close to what you are
 looking for, but it might be worth checking out. It compiles
 best on linux with dmd and ldc 1.074 and needs Tango to compile
 (Tango is also our main standard lib for Amber...though we can
 only compile about 25-30% of Tango with the Amber compiler right
 now).

 Good luck with xdc, whichever way you go with it.

 Thanks,
 Kelly

Hi Kelly, Thank you for the words of encouragement! I didn't know about Amber. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!
Nov 12 2013
prev sibling parent "David Nadlinger" <code klickverbot.at> writes:
On Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 01:32:16 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 On Monday, 11 November 2013 at 08:11:06 UTC, Kai Nacke wrote:
 On Friday, 19 July 2013 at 13:38:12 UTC, Chad Joan wrote:
 I think a C backend would get us farther than an LLVM backend.

Hi, LLVM has a C++ backend in the git tree. The old C backend is still maintained outside the git tree (search the dev mailing list for an url). So if you like C-output, you can start with LDC today. For sure, you have to port druntime to this new environemnt... Regards, Kai

Is there any built-in support for using this C++ backend in LDC right now? Something like "ldc --target=c++ main.d -o main.cpp"?

Careful: The "cpp" LLVM backend actually creates C++ code that constructs the corresponding LLVM IR and is mostly useful for developers working on LLVM-based compilers. But as Kai mentioned, there also is backend that emits equivalent C. Last time I checked, it was still being worked on, even though it isn't in the official LLVM source tree. David
Nov 12 2013