Minimalist Example

This section shows a minimalist example of a complete lexical analyser. It shows the quex-code and the C++ code which is necessary to create a complete working lexical analyser executable. At this point it is tolerated that the reader might not understand every detail of given code fragments. However, the goal is to provide the reader with quick overview of the related processes. Let us start with a .qx file as input to the lexical analyser generator:

header {
#include <cstdlib>  // for: atoi()


    [ \t\r\n]+  { }
    "struct"    => QUEX_TKN_STRUCT;
    "int"       => QUEX_TKN_TYPE_INT;
    "double"    => QUEX_TKN_TYPE_DOUBLE;
    "send"      => QUEX_TKN_SEND;
    "expect"    => QUEX_TKN_EXPECT;
    ";"         => QUEX_TKN_SEMICOLON;
    "{"         => QUEX_TKN_BRACKET_OPEN;
    "}"         => QUEX_TKN_BRACKET_CLOSE;
    [0-9]+      => QUEX_TKN_NUMBER(number=atoi((char*)Lexeme));
    [_a-zA-Z]+  => QUEX_TKN_IDENTIFIER(Lexeme);

First, a C standard header is included in a header section. This code is basically pasted inside the generated code. The included header cstdlib declares the function atoi which is used in the code fragments below. The keyword mode signalizes the definition of a lexical analyser mode. All pattern action pairs need to be related to a mode. In the simple example there is only one mode ONE_AND_ONLY that collects all patterns to be matched against. The pattern actions simply ‘send’ a token as a reaction to a matched pattern. Assume that the content mentioned above is stored in a file called simple.qx. Then quex can now be invoked with

> quex -i simple.qx -o tiny_lexer

This will create some source code to be compiler later on. The following C++ program demonstrates the accesses to lexical analyser engine:


#include "tiny_lexer"

int main(int argc, char** argv)
    quex::Token*       token_p = 0x0;
    quex::tiny_lexer   qlex("example.txt");

    do {
        qlex.receive(&token_p);       // --token-policy queue
        // token_id = qlex.receive(); // --token-policy single
        std::cout << token_p->type_id_name() << std::endl;

    } while( token_p->type_id() != QUEX_TKN_TERMINATION );

    return 0;

This program creates a lexical analyser which gets its input character stream from a file called example.txt. It contains a loop to read tokens from that input stream, prints the token’s type and exits as soon as the termination token id is received. Assume that this code is saved in a file called lexer.cpp, then the following command would create the executable of the lexical analyser:

> $CC  lexer.cpp  tiny_lexer.cpp -I$QUEX_PATH -I. -o lexer

The $CC needs to be replaced by the compiler that you are using (e.g g++, icpc, sunCC etc.). The two files tiny_lexer.cpp and tiny_lexer-core-engine.cpp are the files that have been created by quex. They are mostly human readable. Interested users might want to investigate how the analysis work, or derive from it with little adaptations a ‘low-end’ C version of the analyzer by hand. Anyway, this is all to know about the process of generating a lexical analyzer with quex. The application lexer is now ready to rumble. Assume that example.txt contains the following content:

struct example {
  int    x;
  double y;

if ConfigOk {
  send number 4711 hello world;
  expect number 0815 handshake acknowledged;

Then, a call to lexer will produce something like the following output:


The example is self containing, you can either type it by hand or use the example in the demo/000 directory. If it is required that the produced lexical analyzer is to be distributed in source code then quex can create an independent source package, by

> quex -i simple.qx -o tiny_lexer --source-package my-package

The source package and the generated lexical analyzer are then located in directory my-packager. That for compiling the source package the location of the package has to be passed as an include path with -I, i.e.

> $CC  lexer.cpp  tiny_lexer.cpp -Imy-package -o lexer

The source packager only collects those files which are actually required. Thus the command line instructs quex to create the independent source package should look exactly the same as the ‘usual’ command line plus the --source-package option. Alternatively, the compiler’s pre-process could be used to generated a macro-expanded, all-included source file. The GNU Compilers supports this via the ‘-E’ command line option. The command line

> cat lexer.cpp >> tiny_lexer.cpp
> g++ tiny_lexer.cpp -I$QUEX_PATH -I. -E -o my-packaged-lexer.cpp

The first line appends the user’s lexer to the generated engine so that all is together in one single file. The second line uses the compiler to expand all macros and include all include files into one single source file that can now be compiled independently. This, however, might include also some standard library headers which under normal conditions are not required in an independent source package.