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Rational Metaprogramming

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1 Author(s)
Spinellis, D. ; Athens Univ. of Econ. & Bus., Athens

Metaprogramming, using programs to manipulate other programs, is as old as programming. From self-modifying machine code in early computers to expressions involving partially applied functions in modern functional-programming languages, metaprogramming is an essential part of an advanced programmer's arsenal. Everyday metaprogramming involves on-the-fly code production. Representative examples include dynamically generated SQL statements and code created for evaluation at runtime in interpreted languages. Metaprogramming also occurs in programs that spew out HTML or XML. Although we can't classify these markup languages as code, their rich syntactic structure qualifies their generation as metaprogramming. Unfortunately, we commonly produce code on the fly by simply pasting together character strings. This means that it's difficult to verify essential properties of the generated code - such as validity, correctness, and safety - at compile time.

Published in:

Software, IEEE  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 1 )