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A method for incrementally compiling languages with nested statement structure

By Jay Earley, Paul Caizergues

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 15 No. 12, Pages 1040-1044

A method of incremental compilation is presented which applies especially to programming languages in which statements can be nested (such as Algol and PL/I). The method permits editing of the source language using a general purpose text editor, and incremental processing of changes without frequent recompilation of entire routines. The essential points of the method are: (1) the syntax of the language is restricted insofar as which constructs may occur on lines; (2) an internal data structure (called the skeleton) is maintained to represent the statement structure; (3) the recompilation is partially batched in the sense that recompilation of modified lines does not occur until the last of a set of editing commands has been received; and (4) the parsing and compilation are factored into two parts, that done on individual lines and that done globally to handle the relationships between the lines.

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