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Semantically-Sensitive Macroprocessing

Maddox, William
Technical Report Identifier: CSD-89-545
December 15, 1989

Abstract: Conventional procedure and type definition mechanisms are not sufficiently powerful to express many programming abstractions that can be captured by syntactic transformations. Unfortunately, conventional macroprocessing is oblivious to the semantics of the base language, resulting in scoping anomalies, poor handling of static semantic errors, and an inability to perform transformations dependent on semantic attributes of the manipulated program. We introduce a new mechanism, semantic macros, which permit such transformations a significant level of access to the static semantic properties of the program fragments they manipulate. In this way, new static semantic processing, including compilation of embedded languages with a rich static semantics of their own, can be incorporated into user-defined language extensions. A proof-of-concept language, XL, is described which embodies this mechanism.