Third iteration of QMake parser, looking for a parser generator

Matt Rogers mattr at
Tue Jul 3 02:48:08 UTC 2007

On Monday 02 July 2007 20:35, Andreas Pakulat wrote:
> Hi,
> after trying to fix two bugs found in KDev3's qmake parser in the
> KDevelop4 version I come to the conclusion that its again needed to
> rewrite it. I wanted to do that anyway because I don't see a way to
> properly support the writeBack() methods, i.e. in this new version the
> parser won't store stuff like whitespace, comments and other things that
> are not important to understand the files. This will also make parsing
> easier.
> So much for the prologue, now for the question: Which parser generator
> to use. Unfortunately the bison/flex duo is a real bitch when trying to
> make them produce C++ classes (so you don't have global variables that
> influence the parsing of consecutive files). So I've looked around a bit
> for alternatives and here's my list:
> bison/flex
>   + works out of the box without external dependecies
>     (FlexLexer.h is included in qmake/parser)
>   - no good C++ support, global function needed for the connection
> bisonc++/flex
>   + similar to above, but the interfacing between flex and bisonc++ is
>     better
>   - Bug in current version wrt. namespaces and whats more important: the
>     generated code needs to be edited afterwards, so its impossible to
>     generate during build, generating is always a two-step process:
>     generate+copy only the implementation and token-table to the srcdir
> antlr
>   + clean C++ classes for lexer and parser and easy grammar (easier than
>     bison, IMHO)
>   - dependecy on a library at least during compile time, uses a
>     statically linked library, not sure how that works out on win32
> coco/R
>   + Clean C++ code, no need for a library
>   - LL(1), not sure if thats enough for qmake's syntax
> spirit/boost
>   + completely C++, relatively easy syntax (although different from
>     anything else
>   - might require boost-regex library for regexp parsing and might
>     increase binary size due to templates
> Thats what I could find. If anybody else knows a good parser/lexer
> generator that creates C++ code please share your information.
> I'm going to give coco/R a more thorough test in the next days, but in
> the meantime I welcome any comments.
> Andreas

You left out the kdevelop parser-generator. What's wrong with using that one?

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