Is GPC dead?

John L. Ries jries at
Fri Dec 30 01:15:19 CET 2016

In my humble opinion, GPC should continue to be a native Pascal compiler,
not a translator.  It should be updated to use the current GCC back ends
(Waldek has done some of this in the past and I accept his
characterization of the process; but I think it's necessary if GPC is to
continue to be viable); and the goal should still be to get that aspect of
the code completely up to date so that GPC can be added to GCC.  And I
think it highly important that it be made easy to create binary packages
(I can probably devote some time to this, starting with a SlackBuild
script, but it will go quicker if more than one person is doing it,
especially since for me it would be a learning experience) and do whatever
else can be reasonably done to get GPC into people's hands (to including
making Linux, Windows, and OSX builds available for download from the
website), remembering that it appears to have completely disappeared from
Linux distros, and extant collections of UNIX toys.

I assume that the codebase is maintained in some sort of revision control
system, such as Git.  If it isn't, then it should be.

I'll also accept Frank Heckenbach's characterization of the state of the
codebase (a mess), as I doubt things have improved since he last posted on
the subject.  A rewrite is probably in order, but that is best determined
by those who have some familiarity with said codebase.  Frank suggested
that GPC translate to C behind the scenes, but I fail to see what that
would buy us, except the elimination of the need to interface directly
with the GCC back end, which is apparently a pain (but perhaps that is a
good enough reason by itself).  In any case, a rewrite would of necessity
be a long term task and should probably be done gradually.

I've never written a compiler (though I have worked on interpreters from
time to time starting in college), but if I were to write a Pascal front
end to GCC from scratch, my plan (until I knew better) would probably be
to use bison and flex to specify as much of the syntax (and meaning
thereof) as possible, adding such C (or C++) code as is necessary to
communicate with the back end and the user.  It would be more elegant to
write it in Pascal (as GNAT is written in Ada), but it would require a
Pascal compiler to compile it and there aren't many of those in common use
anymore (Free Pascal being the most visible one of late).  The runtime
library, however, would be written completely in Pascal and compiled with
GPC, though it would probably call standard C functions to handle low
level I/O and memory management (at least); such would be facilitated by a
utility to translate C header files into Borland-style Pascal units (or
Extended Pascal modules).  Since this would be a front-end to GCC, it
would have to interface at least indirectly with the C runtime anyway.
I'm *guessing* that most of the compiler maintenance would involce updates
to the GCC interface and bug fixes; and that most real development would
be on the runtime (which would be written in Pascal), but again, chances
are excellent that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

That said, let's hear what the developers have to say on the subject.

John L. Ries              |
Salford Systems           |
Phone: (619)543-8880 x107 |
or     (435)867-8885      |

On Thu, 29 Dec 2016, Ken Linder wrote:

> With all due respect to Prof. Olowofoyeku, I do not personally find anything
> well documented about the current state of GPC development on the GPC
> homepage.  The wikipedia page does have some helpful information regarding
> its current state; however, information on a Wikipedia page is not always
> accurate and may even be misleading.
> As John wrote, the most recent files on the website are quite old.  There is
> no explanation to the general person interested in GPC who visits the site,
> why there is nothing newer.  Nothing in the FAQ or documentation.  Perhaps
> searching the e-mail archives might yield something, but in my experience,
> people with only cursory interest, will not dig deep for the answers.  A
> topic as serious as the current development state, especially for a project
> like GPC that appears to have been abandoned, should be plainly state
> somewhere on the project website.
> PLEASE Please understand I am not complaining.  I am simply giving my
> opinion and offering my help.  Pascal was one of my first languages and I
> honestly would not enjoy seeing GPC completely wither away and disappear.
> That said, I am NOT a compiler or OS developer.  I did briefly experiment
> with GPC code in the early 2000's, but have very little experience with C in
> general.  That doesn't mean I can't learn it; my learning curve would just
> be rather steep.
> It is my firm opinion we should chat about what can be done with GPC.
> Should it be rewritten in C++?  Should it be patched and cleaned up to work
> with the newest GCC toolchains?  Should GPC become a translator, accepting
> pascal code and emitting C++?
> Thoughts???
> -Ken
> On Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 12:59 PM, John L. Ries <jries at>
> wrote:
>       It would be nice if we could find something on the website more
>       recent
>       than 2005 (perhaps a changelog and links to the current
>       codebase); maybe
>       some instructions on how to get GPC to compile with GCC 5 and 6,
>       or at
>       least a sense of how one would go about creating the necessary
>       patches to
>       the latter.
>       Personally, I would be overjoyed if I had some time to
>       contribute to GPC
>       development, but I work too many hours at my regular job to
>       consider it at
>       the present time; but perhaps there are some small things that
>       some of us
>       could do to move things along at the rate of an hour or two a
>       week per
>       person.
>       --------------------------|
>       John L. Ries              |
>       Salford Systems           |
>       Phone: (619)543-8880 x107 |
>       or     (435)867-8885      |
>       --------------------------|
>       On Wed, 28 Dec 2016, Prof Abimbola Olowofoyeku wrote:
>       > What (apart from that which is already well documented about
>       the current
>       > state of the development efforts) would you like to ask us?
>       >
>       > Regards
>       > The chief
>       > On 29 Dec 2016, at 03:43, Ken Linder <kc7rad at> wrote:
>       >       Have you tried contacting Peter, "The African Chief" or
>       any of
>       >       the other people that worked on the compiler?
>       > If no one is responding, perhaps I should get a snapshot of
>       all the
>       > files on .  Wouldn't want the entire thing
>       lost.
>       >
>       > -Ken
>       >
>       > On Tue, Dec 27, 2016 at 9:39 PM, Schneider
>       <schneidt at>
>       > wrote:
>       >       Ken:
>       >
>       >       > I have been wondering the same thing.
>       >
>       >       It's not functional on Mac OS X for more than a year and
>       >       the guy
>       >       responsible for it doesn't respond.
>       >
>       >       Tom
>       >
>       >         Thomas D. Schneider, Ph.D.
>       >         Senior Investigator
>       >         National Institutes of Health
>       >         National Cancer Institute
>       >         Center for Cancer Research
>       >         RNA Biology Laboratory
>       >         Molecular Information Theory Group
>       >         Frederick, Maryland  21702-1201
>       >         schneidt at
>       > (current link)
>       > (permanent link)
>       >
>       >
> >___________________________________________________________________________
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> >
> >
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