pycparser / README.txt

pycparser v2.01

:Author: `Eli Bendersky <>`_

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What is pycparser?

``pycparser`` is a parser for the C language, written in pure Python. It is a module designed to be easily integrated into applications that need to parse C source code.

What is it good for?

Anything that needs C code to be parsed. The following are some uses for ``pycparser``, taken from real user reports:

* C code obfuscator
* Front-end for various specialized C compilers
* Static code checker
* Automatic unit-test discovery
* Adding specialized extensions to the C language

``pycparser`` is unique in the sense that it's written in pure Python - a very high level language that's easy to experiment with and tweak. To people familiar with Lex and Yacc, ``pycparser``'s code will be simple to understand.

Which version of C does pycparser support?

``pycparser`` aims to support the full C99 language (according to the standard ISO/IEC 9899). This is a new feature in the version 2.x series - earlier versions only supported C89. For more information on the change, read `this wiki page <>`_.

``pycparser`` doesn't support any GCC extensions.

What grammar does pycparser follow?

``pycparser`` very closely follows the C grammar provided in the end of the C99 standard document

What is an AST?

`AST <>`_ - Abstract Syntax Tree. It is a tree representation of the syntax of source code - a convenient hierarchical data structure that's built from the code and is readily suitable for exploration and manipulation.

How is pycparser licensed?

`LGPL <>`_

Contact details

Drop me an email to for any questions regarding ``pycparser``. For reporting problems with ``pycparser`` or submitting feature requests, the best way is to open an issue on the `pycparser page at Google Code <>`_.



* ``pycparser`` was tested on Python 2.5, 2.6 and 3.1, on both Linux and Windows
* ``pycparser`` uses the PLY module for the actual lexer and parser construction. Install PLY version 3.3 (earlier versions work at least since 2.5) from `its website <>`_.

Installation process

Installing ``pycparser`` is very simple. Once you download it from its `website <>`_ and unzip the package, you just have to execute the standard ``python install``. The setup script will then place the ``pycparser`` module into ``site-packages`` in your Python's installation library.

It's recommended to run ```` in the ``pycparser`` code directory after installation to make sure the parsing tables of PLY are pre-generated. This can make your code run faster.


Interaction with the C preprocessor

In order to be compilable, C code must be preprocessed by the C preprocessor - ``cpp``. ``cpp`` handles preprocessing directives like ``#include`` and ``#define``, removes comments, and does other minor tasks that prepare the C code for compilation.

For all but the most trivial snippets of C code, ``pycparser``, like a C compiler, must receive preprocessed C code in order to function correctly. If you import the top-level ``parse_file`` function from the ``pycparser`` package, it will interact with ``cpp`` for you, as long as it's in your PATH, or you provide a path to it. 

On the vast majority of Linux systems, ``cpp`` is installed and is in the PATH. If you're on Windows and don't have ``cpp`` somewhere, you can use the one provided in the ``utils`` directory in ``pycparser``'s distribution. This ``cpp`` executable was compiled from the `LCC distribution <>`_, and is provided under LCC's license terms.

What about the standard C library headers?

C code almost always includes various header files from the standard C library, like ``stdio.h``. While, with some effort, ``pycparser`` can be made to parse the standard headers from any C compiler, it's much simpler to use the provided "fake" standard in includes in ``utils/fake_libc_include``. These are standard C header files that contain only the bare necessities to allow valid parsing of the files that use them. As a bonus, since they're minimal, it can significantly improve the performance of parsing C files.

See the ```` example for more details.

Basic usage

Take a look at the ``examples`` directory of the distribution for a few examples of using ``pycparser``. These should be enough to get you started.

Advanced usage

The public interface of ``pycparser`` is well documented with comments in ``pycparser/``. For a detailed overview of the various AST nodes created by the parser, see ``pycparser/_c_ast.cfg``.

In any case, you can always drop me an `email <>`_ for help.


There are a few points to keep in mind when modifying ``pycparser``:

* The code for ``pycparser``'s AST nodes is automatically generated from a configuration file - ``_c_ast.cfg``, by ````. If you modify the AST configuration, make sure to re-generate the code.
* Make sure you understand the optimized mode of ``pycparser`` - for that you must read the docstring in the constructor of the ``CParser`` class. For development you should create the parser without optimizations, so that it will regenerate the Yacc and Lex tables when you change the grammar.

Package contents

Once you unzip the ``pycparser`` package, you'll see the following files and directories:

  This README file.
  Installation script

  A directory with some examples of using ``pycparser``

  The ``pycparser`` module source code.

  Unit tests.

  A Windows executable of the C pre-processor suitable for working with pycparser

  Minimal standard C library include files that should allow to parse any C code.

  Internal utilities for my own use. You probably don't need them.


Some people have contributed to ``pycparser`` by opening issues on bugs they've found and/or submitting patches. The list of contributors is at `this pycparser Wiki page <>`_.


+ Version 2.01 (04.12.2010)

  * Removed dependency on YAML. Parsing of the AST node configuration file is done with a simple parser.
  * Fixed issue 12: installation problems

+ Version 2.00 (31.10.2010)

  * Support for C99 (read `this wiki page <>`_ for more information).

+ Version 1.08 (09.10.2010)

  * Bug fixes:

    + Correct handling of ``do{} ... while`` statements in some cases
    + Issues 6 & 7: Concatenation of string literals
    + Issue 9: Support for unnamed bitfields in structs

+ Version 1.07 (18.05.2010)

  * Python 3.1 compatibility: ``pycparser`` was modified to run on Python 3.1 as well as 2.6

+ Version 1.06 (10.04.2010)

  * Bug fixes: 

    + coord not propagated to FuncCall nodes
    + lexing of the ^= token (XOREQUALS)
    + parsing failed on some abstract declarator rules

  * Linux compatibility: fixed end-of-line and ``cpp`` path issues to allow all tests and examples run on Linux

+ Version 1.05 (16.10.2009)

  * Fixed the ``parse_file`` auxiliary function to handle multiple arguments to ``cpp`` correctly

+ Version 1.04 (22.05.2009)

  * Added the ``fake_libc_include`` directory to allow parsing of C code that uses standard C library include files without dependency on a real C library.
  * Tested with Python 2.6 and PLY 3.2

+ Version 1.03 (31.01.2009)

  * Accept enumeration lists with a comma after the last item (C99 feature).

+ Version 1.02 (16.01.2009)

  * Fixed problem of parsing struct/enum/union names that were named similarly to previously defined ``typedef`` types. 

+ Version 1.01 (09.01.2009)

  * Fixed subprocess invocation in the helper function parse_file - now it's more portable

+ Version 1.0 (15.11.2008)

  * Initial release
  * Support for ANSI C89
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