Syntax Trees, Parsers, and New Languages

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[ 2006-October-01 16:22 ]

Java has collected a huge amount of very useful tools over its one decade lifespan. For example, I recently found a new web application for browsing Java source code that has IDE-like features such as navigating the class heirarchy or finding all uses of a variable. Any new languages will not be able to compete with Java's tools. However, there is one simple thing that can be done to help other build these kinds of tools: provide easy access to a parser that outputs the abstract syntax tree, either inside the programming language itself, or outside of it. This will help jumpstart the tool building process, and will ensure that no one wastes their time developing yet another parser.