The source code of EiffelStudio was recently made open in a dual licensing model. This makes it possible for a broad group of developers to both learn from and extend the huge code base that embodies EiffelStudio. This article tries to give a good initial understanding behind the most basic ideas of the EiffelStudio implementation.
EiffelStudio is first and foremost a compiler that translates programs written in the Eiffel language into different output formats where one of them is C code. To study a translation process it is important to understand both the source and the target language. The former is of course a perquisite.
When trying to identify the difficult parts of the Eiffel to C compilation it helps to analyze the differences between the two languages. The most important ones are enlisted here:
- Melting ice technology (only for workbench code), see link
- Eiffel supports objects, see link.
- Eiffel has garbage collection, see link.
- Eiffel has dynamic binding, see link.
- Eiffel supports generics.
- Eiffel supports closures, C only supports function pointers, see link.
- Eiffel supports design by contract.
Of course the languages have other differences too, Eiffel has the from loop construct whereas C has the for and while constructs. But this stuff is very easily translated.
For all these features, that the Eiffel languages supports as opposed to the C language runtime mechanisms are needed to support them at the C level.