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New Article: Introduction to java.net's VisualLangLab Project

Posted by editor on September 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM PDT

We've just published a new article by Sanjay Dasgupta, administrator of the java.net VisualLanLab project. The article, titled "VisualLangLab - Grammar without Tears", introduces the tool's design, logic, and capabilities.

VisualLangLab is a JavaTools subproject that was started in January 2011. The software facilitates the development of parsers using a visual user interface. As Sanjay states in the article:

Parsing techniques and parser-generator tools are a great addition to any developer's arsenal, and VisualLangLab provides a convenient, gentle introduction to those topics.

The VisualLangLab software is actually coded in Scala, but you needn't have Scala installed on your system in order to run the application: the full download includes all the component Scala libraries you need. All you really need to run VisualLangLab is a 1.6+ JDK or JRE.

Sanjay's article walks you through the steps of using VisualLangLab to define a basic parser for a data stream that has a specific language grammar. Many aspects of the GUI are presented and discussed, along with capabilities such as literal token creation, regex token creation, whitespace and comments management, node management, rule creation, action code, and more.

The VisualLangLab download also provides sample grammars to help you better understand the tool's capabilities and how it works.

Near the end of the article, the relationship between VisualLangLab and Scala's parser combinators is discussed, and illustrated with the following figure:

For more information about this aspect of VisualLangLab, see Relationship with Scala Parser Combinators on the VLL project site, or in the downloadable VLLS.zip.

Summing up, Sanjay says:

The article introduces readers to parser development using the completely visual tool VisualLangLab. Its features make it an effective prototyping environment and a training tool, and will hopefully be a useful addition to any developer's skills.

Read the full article for more details.


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