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The Definitive ANTLR Reference: Building Domain-Specific Languages (Pragmatic Programmers) 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is all about ANTLR. ANTLR is a tool you can use to build compilers and interpreters for computer languages, but don't let that scare you off. With the increasing interest in domain specific languages, bulding intelligent editors, code generation, and model driven development books like this are becoming ever more important. Terence Parr has made the topic far more approachable than any other book I have read (or attempted to read) on the topic.
In the first few chapters the author walks readers through the phases of parser construction using language that is approachable and easy to understand. He explains the needed principles and demonstrates their application with well chosen examples.
This is followed by a quick tour of how one might use ANTLR. I love the approach taken in this chapter as it takes a small example and shows two different ways to approach the problem using ANTLR. This is coupled with explanations describing when you want to use one approach over another.
The middle section of the book goes into depth on the various aspects of ANTLR. This is the reference section. Don't expect to be able to read these chapters one after another in quick succession. There's just too much to take in all at once!
The text is littered with references both forward and back to other sections and topics of interest. You can tell the author has spent a lot of time working with compiler construction by the breadth and depth of information presented.Read more ›
But despite the fact that ANTLR looks like a simple tool on the surface (the rules for building a grammar are few and simple) in reality it is fiendishly difficult to use until you get the knack for it. This book will help you through the difficult early stages of learning how to write ANTLR grammars; it really is the only resource out there that does this in a comprehensive way. Terence Parr somehow manages to take the incredibly dry subject matter of lexer and parser generation and turn it into a witty and entertaining conversation; you really feel as though Terence is speaking to you from across the table.
My only complaint about the book is that it is almost totally Java-centric (all the examples are in Java) despite the fact that ANTLR can target multiple languages (if the book had a little more information about other target languages then it would be a five-star title).
I'm convinced that ANTLR will become an indispensible tool in any programmer's toolbox. And, by extension, the Definitive ANRL Reference will become an indispensible part of serious programmers' bookshelf.
The critiques (and criticisms) of the strong Java flavor of this book have some basis in fact. But this is, after all, a book about a programming tool written in Java. Professionals should be able to overcome this obstacle, and anyone who tries to find an equal to ANTLR without the Java baggage will quickly discover that learning enough Java to use ANTLR is a comparatively small price to pay.
Final words: Read the second book ("Language Implementation Patterns") first. Actually, read chapters 1, 2, 4, 9 and 10 of that book. Twice. That second book is hardly Java-centric at all and indeed only incidentally about ANTLR. Then get this first book ("The Definitive ANTLR Reference") and get to work. From there, you won't need any more advice from a book review.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best book for Antlr. Oh, wait, it is the only book! Overall, it covered the material well, though it could have used more examples.Published 21 months ago by Raymond J. Rizzuto
I think ANTLR is a great tool and the author did a great job in developing it.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the book. Read more
ANTLR is a fantastic framework for building out domain specific languages without having to write recursive descent parsers by hand. Read morePublished on September 18, 2011 by Clifford Oravec
This USF CS professor has two main inventions to his credit, ANTLR and string template. This book gives Java developers almost everything you might need to learn how to use these... Read morePublished on November 20, 2010 by Glenn
While the book nor th on-line documentation do not cover all of ANTLR, the book has a nice introduction and walk though of the basics.Published on November 14, 2010 by OO Programmer
For a "definitive work" on ANTLR, it really is thin, superficial, and plainly disappointing. For example, I wanted to know what the individual grammatical switches are, what they... Read morePublished on August 1, 2010 by Metal Gimp
You know when you need to review someone's documentation at work, and it's very clear that your coworker thought he did a great job but you discover to your horror that he mashed... Read morePublished on April 7, 2010 by James E. Mitchell
If you know nothing about parsers, lexers, or DSLs in general, this book does a fantastic job getting you from nowhere to BOOM pretty quickly. Read morePublished on January 24, 2010 by Amazon Customer