Updates to AntlrVSIX

I’ve been busy extending AntlrVSIX to include new features and correct bugs. Some of the things added with the 40 or so changes since the beginning of September are:

  • Persistent option settings;
  • Tagging of Java symbols using a symbol table;
  • Improved reformatter for languages;
  • Improved symbol click-on highlighter;
  • Improved co-existence with other extensions.

What is more important is that I’ve been settling on how to write attribute evaluation for the parse tree using Antlr’s Listener pattern, using a symbol table on the Java parse tree. If done in an unstructured, undisciplined, and ill informed manner, the code could become quite disastrous.

For example, I looked for “listeners in parse tree traversal” and Google Search found in the top answers Saumitra’s blog, Jakub Dziworski’s blog, MIT OpenCouseWare page on Antlr, Positive Technoligies page on Antlr, but there is no discussion of how this framework would be used in attribute evaluation, which is discussed nicely in these lecture notes. As I’m not that disciplined to write a system to declare the formal semantic equations and an evaluator of those equations, I’ve settled to make sure to try to set attributes for a node within the node’s listener (either “enter” or “exit”). Otherwise, I wouldn’t know which listener is setting what attribute for a node. This is “basic” compiler stuff, but “basic” information gets lost when people start using these tools.

All this is important, and will be eventually applied to the Piggy transformation system.

More folks seem to be using it, maybe because there is a link from the Antlr.org developer page to the extension.


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