Mar 03

The concept of Spirit’s semantic actions seems to be easy enough to understand as most people new to the library prefer their usage over applying the built-in attribute propagation rules. That is not surprising. The idea of attaching a function to any point of a grammar which is called whenever the corresponding parser matched is straighforward to grasp. Earlier versions of Spirit required a semantic action to conform to a very specific interface. Today’s semantic actions are more flexible and more powerful. Recently, a couple of people asked questions about them. So I decided dedicating this Tip of the Day to the specifics and the usage model of semantic actions in Spirit Qi.

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Feb 24

Spirit supports skipper based parsing since its very invention. So this is definitely not something new to Spirit V2. Nevertheless, the recent discussion on the Spirit mailing list around the semantics of Qi’s lexeme[] directive shows the need for some clarification. Today I try to answer questions like: “What does it mean to use a skipper while parsing?”, or “When do I want to use a skipper and when not?”.

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Feb 17

Recently, there have been a couple of questions on the Spirit mailing list asking how to parse as set of things known in advance in any sequence and any combination. A simple example would be a list of key/value pairs with known keys but the keys may be ordered in any sequence. This use case seems to be quite common. Fortunately Spirit provides you with a predefined parser component designed for exactly that purpose: the permutation parser.

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Feb 08

Here is another question raised from time to time: “I know how to use a plain struct as an attribute for a sequence parser in Qi by adapting it with BOOST_FUSION_ADAPT_STRUCT. Unfortunately this does not work if the struct is a template. What can I do in this case?”.

There have been plans for a while to create a separate Fusion facility BOOST_FUSION_ADAPT_TPL_STRUCT allowing to adapt templated data types, but this is not in place yet. Today I will describe a trick you can apply to adapt your templates into ‘proper’ Fusion sequences anyway.

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Jan 31

Most questions on the main Spirit mailing list are centered around attributes and how to correctly utilize Spirit’s attribute propagation rules. We discussed the related basics in several posts already, but many people still have problems to understand the rules. Somebody recently asked on the mailing list whether it would be possible to print the attribute type exposed by an arbitrary parser expression. I answered by posting a sketchy code snippet (see here), but afterwards I realized it might be a good topic for yet another ‘Tip of the Day’.

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Jan 28

After writing about local variables for rules here I would like to get back to some information I have had lying around for some time already. Today’s topic seems to be a nice fit as porting the dynamic parsers from Spirit.Classic requires to utilize local variables. This allows me to give you some more examples for this facility.

Previous versions of Spirit, which are the versions we refer to as Spirit.Classic today, implemented special dynamic parsers allowing to insert control statements into the parsing process (such as if_p, while_p, and for_p). These dynamic parsers are not available anymore in Qi. But it is easy enough to achieve the same behavior using existing Qi components. This ‘Tip of the Day’ describes those techniques, which have been developed and contributed by Carl Barron. Thanks Carl!

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Jan 26

A couple of days ago I promised to get back to this topic (if you want to refresh your memory, here is the discussion of those operators in Qi). Today we will discuss Karma’s unary operators ‘!’ and ‘~’. These have very similar semantics as their counterparts in Qi, but as usual, we have to turn things inside out in order to make them fit to output generation.

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Jan 25

Starting with Spirit V2 we added a module for generating code aimed at the lexical analysis of the input: Spirit.Lex (a lexer module, also called scanner). Lexical analysis is the process of preprocessing the stream of input characters and separating it into strings called tokens, most of the time delimited by whitespace. Most compiler texts start here, and devote several chapters to discussing various ways to build scanners. Spirit.Lex is a library built to take care of the complexities of creating a lexer for your grammar.

We know the documentation of Spirit.Lex is not complete yet. So I will write  more about it here from now on to fill in the missing pieces and to show a couple of tricks demonstrating its best usage.

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Jan 21

In the previous installment of the ‘Tip of the Day’ I started to talk about some lesser known features related to semantic actions. Today I will highlight some more details. If a semantic action is attached to a component which is part of an expression assigned to a rule (the rule’s right hand side) it is not only possible to access the attributes of the components it is connected with. In addition it is possible to access rule specific values! Sounds interesting? Read on!

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Jan 19

The concept of semantic actions seems to be quite easy to understand. It appears to be at least easier to grasp than the concept of attribute propagation. This might be because semantic actions have been part of Spirit for almost a decade now. Additionally, with semantic actions data flow control is tightly connected to the component the semantic action is attached to, so the effect is highly localized and easy to spot.

Spirit has some new features related to semantics actions. That’s reason enough to talk about how attributes can be accessed from inside semantic actions.

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Jan 17

The Freenet #boost IRC channel amazes me every day with the amount of interest Spirit is getting from a lot of people. Thanks to everyone over there! But the best is those people are asking many interesting questions allowing me to come up with yet another Tip of the Day.

Today’s question has been asked by @psicode: “What is the difference between the components created by the unary operators ‘!’ and ‘~’?”. As the semantics of those operators are slightly dissimilar in Qi and Karma, I will talk about them separately. I will write about the Qi operators today and about the corresponding Karma operators in one of the next installments.

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Jan 15

If you read the article about attribute handling for non-terminals (The Magical Power of Attributes in Spirit – Directives and Non-terminals) you might remember that Spirit’s non-terminals (rules and grammars) are somewhat special with regard to their attribute handling. In today’s ‘Tip of the Day’ I would like to revisit this topic as it still seems to be difficult to understand.

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Jan 14

Over at the Freenet #boost IRC channel somebody (I think it was @VeXocide) suggested to write a ‘Tip of the Day’ about the Qi directive raw[]. I was told this ‘was a major stumbling stone’ while learning Qi. I always appreciate to get suggestions for articles, so here we go…

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Jan 13

While looking through the mailing list archives I realized that often the small issues get into our way. Small snippets of information are making the difference. So I decided to start a (more or less regular) series about small tips helping to get your work done while using Spirit. Even if I sloppily call this series ‘Tip of the Day’, I by no means plan to have a tip a day.

This time I’m going to highlight the difference between three different ways to parse or generate a single character: ‘a’, lit(‘a’), and char_(‘a’).

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