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A correct C89/C90/C99/C11/C18 parser written using Menhir and OCaml

The operation and design of this parser are described in detail in the following journal paper (in process of review for publication):

A simple, possibly correct LR parser for C11
Jacques-Henri Jourdan and François Pottier

How to use the parser?

You need to have installed

  • OCaml (known to work with 4.05.0),
  • the Menhir parser generator (known to work with 20181113) and
  • ocamlbuild (known to work with 0.12.0)

In order to build it, you can just type make.

The executable that is produced takes a preprocessed C file in its standard input and raises an exception in the case of a parse error.

The following command-line options are available:

  • -std {c89|c90|c99|c11|c18}

    Sets which grammar to use.

    c89 and c90 tells the parser to use the old grammar, where declaration were not required to have a type specifier, in which case "int" was used (it still recognizes C99, C11 and C18 constructs).

    c99, c11 and c18 use the new, simpler grammar: Declarations are required to have a type specifier, and the scoping rules are different.

  • -c99-scoping

    Use the C99/C11/C18 scoping rules even though the old C89/C90 grammar is used. This is always set when using the new grammar.

  • -atomic-permissive-syntax

    The C18 standard forbids the use of an opening parenthesis immediately following an atomic type qualifier. This is intended to avoid a possible ambiguity with _Atomic used in a type specifier. This parser disambiguates this apparent conflict so that this restriction can be lifted safely.

If you want to use this parser in a C front-end, you should fill the semantic actions of .mly files with your own code for building your AST:

  • The file parser.mly contains a C99/C11/C18 compliant parser. It mostly follows the grammar of the C18 standard.
  • The file parser_ansi_compatible.mly is compliant with C89, C99, C11 and C18 (depending on the options given in It is significantly more complex than parser.mly.

The test suite

We provide, in the tests/ directory, a series of tests that are particularly difficult to handle in a correct C parser. They are all valid C18 fragments, except for:

  • The files whose name end with .fail.c
  • atomic_parenthesis.c, which represents an unnecessary restriction in the syntax presented in the C18 standard.

In order to run the test suite, you need the cram tool, available on most major linux distributions. Then, simply type make test.


A correct C89/C90/C99/C11/C18 parser written using Menhir and OCaml







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