General lexing / parsing and AST manipulation using Lua and listlpeg
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codepeg: listlpeg based lexer, parser and AST manipulation

See the copyright information in the file named COPYRIGHT.

codepeg is as a generic lexing and parsing system that is agnostic to any particular language.
Lexers and parsers for a specific language are generated by writing a specification file that describes at a minimum the language's Tokens and Rules but can also include its Comments. The lexer exclusively uses the Token and Comment definitions while the parser also makes use of the Rules.

In addition, codepeg aims to provide accurate and pertinent diagnostic information during both lexing and parsing. During the lexing process codepeg provides hooks to signal malformed tokens.
During the parsing process, codepeg tracks the parser as it moves through the grammar rules such that when a parsing error occurs, all the basic information required to determine what the error is is available.

When parsing fails, all pertinent information is stored in Parser's rulestack field and can be queried through Parser or by directly inspecting the Rulestack itself. Currently stored information includes:

  1. Stack of rules representing the furthest traversed position by the Parser over the input list of tokens
  2. A list of tokens the Parser attempted to match against just before failing
  3. The last token matched along with its position in the token stream and the active rule when the token was matched




Turns code into a stream of tokens. Comments are left in the token stream even though they represent ignored text. The parser will ignore any comment tokens so there's no harm done by leaving them in. Tokens have the following format:

	[1] = <token value>,
	token = <token name>,
	start_idx = <starting character index in code>,
	end_idx = <ending character index in code>,

The code represented by the token can be extracted from the input code with the string.sub function:

string.sub(code, token.start_idx, token.end_idx-1)


Turns a stream of tokens into an Abstract Syntax Tree (AST). The parser applies a grammar of rules to the token stream to break them into a hierarchical representation with a single root rule. The parser keeps track of what rules have been applied/tried throughout the parsing process so that precise diagnostic can be made. All rules that match are added to the AST even if they only contain a single rule. Rules have the following format:

	rule = <rule name>,
	[1] = <Token or Rule>,
	[n] = <Token or Rule>,

Data Structures


Generic stack data structure


A data structure for keeping track of tokens and their associated rules


A data structure for tracking Parser state. It maintains information describing what Parser rules are currently active, what tokens have been attempted on the last token position reached by the parser, and information about the last token the Parser matched. Rulestack is used by Parser internally and can be queried through Parser's accessor methods.


General AST querying and manipulation functions.


An example specification file for the Lua scripting language. The specification implements the Lua grammar and can be used in conjunction with codepeg.lexer and codepeg.parser to lex and parse Lua code

Specification Files

Specification files are the heart of codepeg. They describe the structure of a language to be lexed and parser. The three basic definitions are:

Token(patt, name, [priority])

Create a Token from patt with name name. priority defaults to 0. It can be any numeric argument including the special value MAX_PRIORITY. In general, tokens should be ordered from largest to smallest in order to prevent the lexer from breaking up larger tokens into smaller ones inadvertently. For example >> can easily be converted to > > if > precedes >> in priority. See the example Lua specification for how to handle this automatically for keywords and operators.

Note, patt should not have any V lpeg patterns in it. Tokens should be solely composed of basic patterns and captures. Tokens are not turned into a grammar by the lexer.

Rule(patt, name)

Create a Rule from patt with name name. Rules describe sequences of tokens and as such should contain exclusively patterns made up of grammar rules constructed from the V lpeg pattern. Rules can depend on other tules and tokens only.

Comment(patt, name)

Comments are like tokens except they have no priority since it's implied that they have the highest priority during the lexing process.

LexErr(patt, msg)

LexErr will raise an error during the lexing process if patt succeeds and an error with msg as its message will be thrown.


Input Code: (note that the second line is an invalid statement and will generate a parser error)

function name(x, y, z)

Invoke the Parser:

local ok, AST = pcall(parser.match, parser, tokens)

####Diagnostic Information:

Parser:lastrulestack() will return the Parser's rule stack at the point where parsing failed. The rule stack can be used to determine what kind of error occurred.

Rule Stack:
  idx = 9,
  [1] = "block",
  [2] = "chunk",
  [3] = "stat",
  [4] = "funcbody",
  [5] = "block",
  [6] = "chunk",
  [7] = "stat",
  [8] = "functioncall",
  [9] = "prefix",

Parser:tokenlist() will return a list of tokens that the Parser attempted to match against the next token before failing. The token list can be used to make any error messages reported more relevant by giving hints as to what tokens might be missing from the code where the parsing error occurred.

Attempted Tokens List:
  rules = {
    [1] = "args",
    [2] = "tableconstructor",
    [3] = "args",
    [4] = "call",
    [5] = "index",
    [6] = "index",
    [7] = "varlist",
    [8] = "stat",
  tokens = {
    [1] = "LEFT_PAREN",
    [2] = "LEFT_BRACE",
    [3] = "STRING",
    [4] = "COLON",
    [5] = "LEFT_BRACKET",
    [6] = "DOT",
    [7] = "COMMA",
    [8] = "EQUALS",

Parser:lasttoken() gives the precise location of how far through the token stream the Parser made it and what rule the Parser was mating the token stream against when it made the match.

Last Matched Token:
  idx = 10,
  rule = "prefix",
  tok = {
    end_idx = 28,
    start_idx = 27,
    token = "NAME",
    [1] = "x",