Quo vadis, GPC?
John L. Ries
jries at salford-systems.com
Tue Jul 27 17:36:58 CEST 2010
On Mon, 26 Jul 2010, Frank Heckenbach wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> since GPC development has mostly stalled, I've thought about if and
> how its development could be continued. Here are my current thoughts
> about it. Since the text is quite long, I put it on the web:
> As I write there, I don't see much future in the current way of
> developing GPC, but also alternative development models will not be
> a task for a single person. In other words, without some new
> contributors, there is probably no chance for GPC development to
> I don't really know how many of you currently use GPC, and to what
> extent and in which ways, e.g., do you use it just to maintain some
> legacy code, or are you actively writing new applications?
> So in order to tell whether continuing GPC development is
> worthwhile, I'd like to know who of you would actually care about
> major new features in GPC (as opposed to just preserving the status
> quo), and who would be interested not only in using GPC, but also
> supporting its continued development, either by actively
> contributing to it, or -- perhaps in the case of companies that use
> GPC -- by paying for continued development.
I know from experience that Frank's return address bounces what's sent to
it, and I don't see any other address to respond to posted, so I guess I
have to do it here.
I don't use Pascal in my professional work (sorry to say), but it is my
preferred language for personal projects, and despite my former Borland
cultism, I have great appreciation for the Extended Pascal standard, which
makes GPC my preferred Pascal compiler. I find it interesting that when I
was a young CS major back in the 1980s, I somewhat resented Pascal's
status as the "official religion" in my university's CS department, but as
a professional programmer, my appreciation for the way it encourages good
programming practices has increased by leaps and bounds. At the same
time, my attitude toward C has gone from infatuation to active dislike.
For all of these reasons, I'd hate to see GPC development cease. I could
use FPC, but I definitely like GPC better.
That said, I agree in principle with the proposal to rewrite GPC in
Pascal, though if it can be made easy to keep the existing GPC in sync
with the GCC back end, it would free up time for the core developers to
work on the rewrite. I'm not sure how much language extension is
required, but Pascal greatly suffers from a lack of bindings to widely
used libraries, including and especially GUI toolkits. I know there is a
tool to facilitate creation of Pascal bindings to C/C++ libraries, but
it's not (as far as I can see) distributed with GPC, or mentioned on the
GPC website. I don't really understand why the existing GPC couldn't be
used to boostrap a new compiler written entirely in Pascal, but perhaps
Frank could elaborate on why his suggested C++ converter is preferable as
an interim step.
I don't have any experience in compiler development, know almost
nothing about GCC internals, and have very little free time, so I don't
know how useful I could be to the project, but if an updated list of
things that need doing could be published, it would likely be easier for
me and others like me to get involved.
Again, I greatly appreciate the work that the GPC developers have done
over the years and would hate to see it stop. Thanks to Frank for sharing
John L. Ries |
Salford Systems |
Phone: (619)543-8880 x107 |
or (435)867-8885 |
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