Compile-to-js and compile-to-c language, highly readable, keep it simple philosophy
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README.md

LiteScript is a highly-readable, literate, compile-to-js and compile-to-c language.

Design considerations

  • More hours are expended reading and debugging code, than writing it.
  • Code should be easy to read and follow.
  • Programmer intention and code effects should be clear and explicit
  • Code flow should be straightforward, top-down, left-right, then:
    • Condition evaluation should precede conditionally executed statements
    • Deviations from expected program flow, should be handled as "exceptions" (try-catch-finally)
    • Async callbacks and closures should not break the exception handling logic.
    • Hidden side-effects and global variables should be avoided whenever possible.

Objectives

  • Make code as readable and easy to follow as possible.
  • Favor clear, readable code, over terse, hard to read code.
  • Catch typos in property names in the compilation phase. Is too time-expensive to debug subtle bugs caused by mistyped property member names in javascript.
  • Allow an easy context-switch in the coder's mind between programming languages:
    • Try to use the same meaning for the same symbols when the symbol is used in javascript, CoffeScript, Python, C, C#, JAVA or SQL.
    • Use js and EcmaScript 6 syntax when available.
    • Embrace javascript prototypal inheritance. "class" is just syntax sugar.

Why?

a) JavaScript & Large Projects

I've reached a point, in pure js projects, at which refactoring code gets too risky. It's far too easy to introduce subtle bugs in pure js code, just with a typo. After hours lost debugging js code. You end up fearing to alter code that's already tested. I needed a tool to ease up javascript production for large projects, catching common errors in the compilation phase, to avoid long debugging hours.

Good Start: By migrating a few projects to LiteScript I've found bugs lurking in js code I thought was bug-free. Also with LiteScript I found myself coding faster, fearless, trusting LiteScript compiler to catch typos and object misuse.

b) Easy to hack-on compiler

I wanted to have a "easy-to-hack-on" compiler to be able to alter and adjust the language itself, and also to be able to add several "compile-to" backends. Parsing by PEGs makes the compiler "easy to hack on".


LiteScript is Literate

LiteScript is literate (based on the idea of Literate CoffeeScript). You write code and documentation on the same file, using Github flavored Markdown syntax.
Code blocks, denoted by four spaces of indentation after a blank line, are treated as code. Every other line not indented at least 4 spaces, is considered Markdown and treated as comments by the compiler, with some exceptions.

The exception are: MarkDown Titles (###, ####, #####) introducing classes, methods and functions.

This exception exists to allow markdown titles to act as block starters (class, function, method), and then keep literate markdown comment paragraphs inside classes and functions. Comments, if left outside the class or function, tend to get detached from their code on reorganizations. Anything else not indented 4 spaces is a literate comment, Github flavor MarkDown syntax.

Example:


Public Class Agent

This is an example of some class, the title above is CODE, because the title line start with ### Public Class. This text is not code. This is a comment paragraph, which explains the class usage, and, because its location, has high chances of still be attached to the class after code refactorings.

Now let's write the class body (code)

Properties
    name
Constructor(name)
    this.name = name
Method hello
    print "Hello! I'm #{.name}"

Now test the class

var a = new Agent('the README')
a.hello

Since LiteScript is literate, you can run this README, and see the above example in action.

do:

sudo npm install -g litescript
git clone https://github.com/luciotato/LiteScript
cd LiteScript
lite -v 0 -run README.md

> Hello! I'm the README


OK, now you can:

  1. Go cowboy-style, get hands-on and try it online, go to LiteScript Online Playground

  2. Be more academic, and read the LiteScript Grammar (it is also the code)

  3. Continue reading the highlights at /doc

  4. Install and start enjoying


Compile-to-C

LiteScript can also be compiled-to-c (beta in version 0.8.5)

when compiled-to-C, the LiteScript compiler itself runs 5x-7x faster.

See: [Self-Compiling LiteScript, 7x performance gain] (doc/self-compiling-LiteScript.md)

UgilfyLS - proof of concept

In order to measure performance gains when compiling-to-c, I've "translated" the parser from UglifyJS into LiteScript code, and then compiled the LS code to-js and to-c

Results:

parsing of: jquery-1.11.1.js + Underscore.js 1.6.0 + AngularJS 366 KiB

source code target/generated parse time relative to base
Original Uglify2 parse.js 430 ms base
LiteScript code compile-to-js 450 ms +20 ms, 5% slower
LiteScript code compile-to-c 150 ms 2.5 times faster !!

Conclusion:

Uglify2.JS parser "translated" to LiteScript and compiled-to-c, runs 2.5 times faster

See: https://github.com/luciotato/UglifyLS


LiteScript Installation

sudo npm install -g litescript

See Development Environment below for tools installation.

Usage

Primary usage is from the command line, to compile a project or to run a script:

To compile a project: lite mainModule.lite.md

To run a script: lite -run script.lite.md

Options:

  -r, -run         compile & run .lite.md file
  -o dir           output dir. Default is 'out'
  -b, -browser     compile for a browser environment (window instead of global, no process, etc)
  -v, -verbose     verbose level, default is 1 (0-2)
  -w, -warning     warning level, default is 1 (0-1)
  -comments        comment level on generated files, default is 1 (0-2)
  -version         print LiteScript version & exit

  Advanced options:
  -es6, --harmony  used with -run, uses node --harmony
  -s,  -single     compile single file. do not follow import/require() calls
  -nm, -nomap      do not generate sourcemap
  -noval           skip name validation
  -d, -debug       enable full compiler debug log file at 'out/debug.log'
  -run -debug      when -run used with -debug, launch compiled file with: node --debug-brk 

Development Environment

It's very useful to have syntax coloring to try a new language. This is what I use:

  • OS: Linux, Debian with KDE / or the linux distro that pleases you
  • node.js >= 0.10
  • Sublime Text 2 - Higly recommended
  • LiteScript tmLanguage for Sublime Text.
  • A custom theme for Sublime Text "Lite Day/Night" based on "Soda Dark".
  • A very simple Sublime "build system" (Ctrl-B)
{
  "working_dir": "$project_path",
  "cmd": ["sh","build-lite.sh"],
  "file_regex": "([\\w./_-]+?):([0-9]+):?([0-9]+)?(.*)?"
}

Install a code example

git clone https://github.com/luciotato/LiteScript-reception-demo.git

Once you have all that, with Sublime, "open folder" for example: ~/litescript_reception_demo/webServer/source, then open "BareWebServer.lite.md".

  • You can now compile (current dir) with Ctrl-B and then use F4 to check each compiler error (Sublime jumps automatically to source position)

This is a higly recommendable environment to be productive with the language.

If you have a windows box, the better option is to install Linux on Virtual Box. Node.js works on windows, but some other very useful tools do not work smoothly on windows (like node-inspector). Go now and download "Virtual Box". After installing "Virtual Box" try http://www.debian.org/distrib/netinst and continue from there until you reach the above configuration.


Real use cases so far

On the server
LiteScript itself

LiteScript is written in LiteScript, every new version must be able to compile itself to be ready for release. LiteScript is a real-use case of a heavy, server run, text processing, class based program written in LiteScript.

Now (v0.8.5) LiteScript compiler can compile itelf to C, creating a c-based LiteScript compiler which runs 5x-7x times faster than its .js counterpart.

See: [Self-Compiling LiteScript, 7x performance gain] (doc/self-compiling-LiteScript.md)

UglifyLS - alpha

A proof-of-concept project, to measure performance increases from:

  1. pure js hand-optimized code (Uglify2.JS parser)

  2. the same code "translated" to LiteScript and compiled-to-js

  3. the previous LiteScript code compiled-to-c

see: UglifyLS

On the browser:
LiteScript_online_playground

Its a single page browser app. It downloads the entire LiteScript compiler (not minified) and fetch example LiteScript code via AJAX, then compile on the browser presenting a side-by-side view of LiteScript and generated Javascript (via ace editor).

The repository includes a "BareBones Minimal WebServer", also written in LiteScript, so you can git clone and host-it locally, being then a combination of LiteScript generated Server App and Browser App.

This project has a minimal "Document.interface.md" for the DOM and also minimals "jQuery.interface.md" and "ace.interface.md"

Note: The "Document.interface.md" and "jQuery.interface.md" are partial and incomplete. Patches are welcomed.

LiteScript-reception-demo

Its a web app prototype for IPAD we were commisioned to do. In order to test LiteScript with real-world code, I've ported it from pure browser javascript to node.js-LiteScript(server)-LiteScript(browser)

The repository includes again a "BareBones Minimal WebServer", also written in LiteScript, which simulates a database access.

You must clone it and host it locally to test it.


Developing a new version of LiteScript

The LiteScript compiler is written in LiteScript.

As a result, a previous version of the compiler is used to to develop and compile a newer -unstable- version.

Check the /devel/source dir for the latests sources.

Once the new liteCompiler version passes all tests and can compile itself, it's ready for release.

See also: [Self-Compiling LiteScript] (doc/self-compiling-LiteScript.md)