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I agree that the dragon book is quite opaque.

An excellent book is Allan Holub's "Compiler Design in C". Besides theory,
this book presents practical implementation details that many other books
leave as an exercise for the reader. I highly recommend it. Also makes
excellent ballast for non-CS types. See Holub's site:

A good online theory book is "Parsing Techniques - A Practical Guide" by
Dick Grune and Ceriel J.H. Jacobs at

I like Finkel's "Advanced Programming Language Design". It covers design
aspects of many types of languages. Online at,3833,0805311912+20,00.html.

There is "Compilers and Compiler Generators an introduction with C++" by
P.D. Terry, Rhodes University, 1996 
online at I have not read it.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chris Tavares []
> Sent: Friday, August 17, 2001 11:42 AM
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: Re: Programming Language Creation Books
> >
> > The "Dragon Book" ISBN 0201100886 is *the* bible :-)
> >
> And, like most bibles, is *extremely* difficult to figure out without
> a priest (i.e. college professor) interpreting it for you. I took a
> compiler class recently, and we used this as a textbook. It was, for
> the most part, incomprehensible (the book, not the class).
> A good place to start would be "Constructing Language Processors for
> Little Languages" by Randy M. Kaplan, ISBN: 0471597538. It covers the
> basics of lexing and parsing very, very well, and also discusses the
> issues behind language design in the process. The author unfortunately
> gives little attention to the runtime aspects of language construction
> (for example, there's no discussion on how to execute a loop) but the
> material that is there is MUCH more approachable than the dragon book.
> -Chris
> P.S. If this message comes out in all sorts of weird HTML, I
> apologize. I *think* I've got it set to plain text, but who knows what
> Outlook will really do?