Thursday, June 27, 2002

http://slashdot.org/features/98/10/20/116240.shtml Bruce Stephens has written in with a writeup on something he considers pretty cool- perhaps you'll agree. It's about something you may not have heard of:ANDF. Looks interesting for the hardcore.
Whatever happened to ANDF?
Once upon a time, there was a neat technology called ANDF: Architecture Neutral Distribution Format. It even merits a place in the GNU Project's task list: provide a decompiler for ANDF. (I'm not sure whether this item is still there; it's probably not high on the list of tasks!)
I haven't seen it mentioned much in years, however.
How does ANDF work?
ANDF is a format: it's a flattened representation of the abstract syntax tree for a program. Programs are compiled using a number of tools:
A producer, which produces target-independent ANDF from source
A linker, which links together some target-independent ANDF capsules
An installer, which combines target-independent capsules and target-specific ones, and knows how to produce target-specific code.
Much of 3 can actually be fairly portable. Many optimizations can be cast as portable manipulations of an abstract syntax tree. What's more target-specific is which of these manipulations you use. More than that; ANDF can represent a range of levels of detail, so even quite low-level things can be done using code that is shared between targets.
So, if you want to draw a line between developers (who compile code to produce binaries) and users (who just want to use the

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