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The ModulaTor

Oberon-2 and Modula-2 Technical Publication

Ubaye's First Independent Modula-2 & Oberon-2 Journal! Nr. 1, Feb-1996 (2nd ed. Aug-96)


The XDS Development System

[Ed. note:] Information provided courtesy XDS, Ltd., March-1996

XDS (eXtended development system) is a portable bilingual programming system featuring Modula-2 and Oberon-2 languages. XDS provides the same programming environment for all popular platforms: MS/DOS, Windows 95, Windows NT, OS/2 and various Unix systems.
There are two XDS packages

Both variants of XDS use the same platform independent front-end that performs all syntactic and semantic checks in the source program providing the same ISO standard Modula-2 and Oberon-2 source languages for all platforms. XDS Project Management subsystem helps programmer to maintain large projects. Each package also contains a set of standard, run-time system as well as machine/operating system specific library modules.

The XDS translator produces output in the form of C source code, suitable for compilation with an appropriate C compiler. All popular C/C++ compilers are supported (Watcom, Symantec, Borland, GNU). The target language of the XDS translator can be chosen to be either Kernighan & Ritchie C, ANSI C or C++. The readability of the generated code is improved by preserving source comments and providing appropriate text formatting.

Debugging facilities of XDS translator consists of a built-in post-mortem history analyser and an external debugger support. The post-mortem analyser resides in XDS runtime and displays the procedure call chain when the program terminates abnormally. XDS supports external debuggers by inserting appropriate "#line" directives into the generated text. These directives force the debugger to operate on the Modula-2 or Oberon-2 source instead of its intermediate C representation.

The XDS native-code compiler produces highly optimized code for Intel80x86 processors. Programs compiled with all possible Modula-2 runtime checks (such as NIL dereference check, unsigned overflow check, array bounds check, etc.) enabled, run only approx. 10% slower than with all checks disabled. So run-time checks may be kept even in the final application program thus increasing reliability.

The native XDS provides a good integration of "native" programs with "foreign" (e.g. written in C) procedures. It supports calling and naming conventions for popular C compilers.

Native XDS compiler and linker provide debugging information in CodeView format allowing to use any compatible debugger.

The XDS Modula-2 compiler in a standard mode complies with the International Standard (ISO 10514). Special compiler options provide some language extensions:

XDS Oberon-2 compiler in a standard mode is fully compatible with ETH compilers. It also has a number of language extensions: XDS Modula-2 and Oberon-2 compilers share the same symbol file format. Modula-2 modules can freely be imported from Oberon-2 and vice versa without any special efforts. Both compilers accept a set of language extensions supporting a mix of Modula-2 and Oberon-2 as well as import of modules from other programming languages.

XDS Project Subsystem simplifies management of large projects. Project can be described in special project files containing the following information:

To produce a consistent target of the project XDS Project Subsystem performs following steps:
  1. The Project Subsystem completes modules list using import information of explicitly given modules and search paths directives of the project file. No need to enumerate all "native" modules of the project in the project file. It is sufficient to point the main module of the project and properly set up project's search paths. "Foreign" modules (from C or Assembler) should be explicitly listed.
  2. It checks dependencies between project's modules and determines correct order of modules compilation. It also checks modification dates of source and target files and determines which modules need to be recompiled to get consistency (similar to any "make" utility).
  3. It runs Modula-2 and Oberon-2 compilers against modules which need recompilation.
  4. It generates make script or linker response file depending on project settings.
  5. It runs the make utility or linker depending on project settings.
If project file is set up properly and no compilation errors encountered then the path from source modification to updated target is done in one step.

XDS libraries set

Note that Modula-2 libraries are freely accessed from Oberon-2 modules.

History of the XDS project

The XDS project was started in 1991. The goal of the project was to construct a portable programming environment for a variety of platforms. Modula-2 was chosen as a safe language suitable for application programming as well as for programming of embedded systems. Oberon-2 was chosen because it is the object-oriented successor of Modula-2.

In 1992 the first version of the system was implemented. It contained Modula-2 and Oberon-2 translators to ANSI C. The product was called OM2.

In the fall of 1993 two other tightly coupled products were ready:

The compilers were written in Modula-2. Mithril was written in Oberon-2. Early 1994 the development of second generation compiler was started. The main requirements were: To satisfy these requirements the compiler kernel was rewritten in Oberon-2. A new object-oriented compiler architecture was introduced providing clear separation of front-end and back-end development as well as tight cooperation of these components in the compiler. A flexible internal program representation was developed in order to support compilation of other high-level programming languages. The run-time system for Oberon-2 was redesigned to allow portable and efficient garbage collection and meta-language facilities. The version 2.03 of the XDS translator was released in the fall of 1994. At the same time, the development of the native-code compiler was started. The main goals were The first target for the XDS native compiler was the Intel 80x86 processors architecture. Besides the compiler itself, the XDS libraries and runtime support were ported to Windows-95. The first pre-release was released in the fall of 1995.

The current version of native XDS V2.10 performs the following optimizations:

Since the first release, the XDS translator was improved. V2.11 now features: The following products and improvements are in development: Future XDS development plans: Note: System-dependent modules are implemented for OS/2 only.

IMPRESSUM: The ModulaTor is an unrefereed journal. Technical papers are to be taken as working papers and personal rather than organizational statements. Items are printed at the discretion of the Editor based upon his judgement on the interest and relevancy to the readership. Letters, announcements, and other items of professional interest are selected on the same basis. Office of publication. The Editor of The ModulaTor is Günter Dotzel; he can be reached at mailto:[email deleted due to spam]


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