Friday, 10 September 2010

Time for flex and bison

A couple of weeks ago Phil lent me a book in which the creators of various programming languages are interviewed (Masterminds of Programming). I've only read a few of the interviews so far, but these have included the creators of C++, BASIC, Python and Forth. On the whole it's been fascinating reading and very relevant to this research project.

Fortunately, one theme that seems to be repeated is the idea that in general it's a 'good thing' for people to experiment with creating new programming languages. This of course is very encouraging for me to read, especially coming from these particular people.

As well as being full of discussion about generic issues that are useful for creating, disseminating, evolving and standardising a programming language, there have also been a few very specific bits of advice that I will try to follow, one of which is to use flex and bison when building your compiler.

Flex and bison are tools that help generate fast and correct C code for the first two steps of any text compilation process, namely: lexical analysis and grammar parsing. To date I've been hand crafting the C code for these two steps of my Textual Semprola compiler. I've known about flex and bison for a while, but always thought the cost of the learning curve and the code re-write were not quite worth it.

However, I'm about to go through a phase where I considerably extend and tinker with the syntax for Textual Semprola and so now I need to re-write this part of the code anyway. As I'm also reading more people sing the praises of flex and bison I've decided that this time I should push through the learning curve and start using these powerful little tools. The great thing is that once I've made the switch it should be easier to experiment with the syntax in the future.

One other thing to mention is that I've recently started some more client work. While this will no doubt delay the progress of this research project it does also help fund it!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The demise of Google's Wave is a stark reminder of just how hard it can be to launch a new technology idea:

A key take home lesson for me is to try to make the success of SP less dependent on the network effect. Hopefully SP can be more like the mobile phone rather than the original telephone (mobility is useful for one user even if everyone you talk to has a land line).

Monday, 26 July 2010

I've started putting together a very simple FAQ about SP (see the What is SP? (FAQ) link on the right). I've given up trying to format the text of the FAQ nicely as the blogger editor for such pages is unbelievably useless.

One key thing that is still missing from the FAQ is a basic description of the nodedge model. I will add this next as there have been some changes since the 2008 PDF 'paper' that is linked to from my first post.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

After many years working away at the ideas of Semantic Programming the project is finally getting towards the point where a release of a very simple 'SP agent' might be vaguely possible. So, in order to record more of my thinking in these last stages before the release (and then beyond) I have finally decided to start writing a blog about the project.