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<Create a Language Compiler for the .NET Framework ⁄ >

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Compiler hackers are celebrities in the world of computer science. I've seen Anders Hejlsberg deliver a presentation at the Professional Developers Conference and then walk off stage to a herd of men and women asking him to sign books and pose for photographs. There's a certain intellectual mystique about individuals who dedicate their time to learning and understanding the ins and outs of lambda expressions, type systems, and assembly languages. Now, you too can share some of this glory by writing your own compiler for the Microsoft® .NET Framework.
There are hundreds of compilers for dozens of languages that target the .NET Framework. The .NET CLR wrangles these languages into the same sandpit to play and interact together peacefully. A ninja developer can take advantage of this when building large software systems, adding a bit of C# and a dabble of Python. Sure, these developers are impressive, but they don't compare to the true masters-the compiler hackers, for it is they who have a deep understanding of virtual machines, language design, and the nuts and bolts of these languages and compilers.
In this article, I will walk you through the code for a compiler written in C# (aptly called the "Good for Nothing" compiler), and along the way I will introduce you to the high-level architecture, theory, and .NET Framework APIs that are required to build your own .NET compiler. I will start with a language definition, explore compiler architecture, and then walk you through the code generation subsystem that spits out a .NET assembly. The goal is for you to understand the foundations of compiler development and get a firm, high-level understanding of how languages target the CLR efficiently. I won't be developing the equivalent of a C# 4.0 or an IronRuby, but this discussion will still offer enough meat to ignite your passion for the art of compiler development.

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