Thursday, December 30, 2010

The .NET Preprocessor - Part 1


This is my only technical blog, so I’ll just put it here for now…

My favourite programming language is still C. One of the things I liked a lot about it is the C Preprocessor. There are people who love it, and then there are those who hate it. Some say that it is evil. Like they say, with C, you shoot yourself in the foot. I guess the C Preprocessor (CPP) is the same. It can be used for good, or evil. If used appropriately, boy, can it save you a load of tedious coding/keystrokes. If you screw it up, you shoot yourself in the foot.

So nowadays, I don’t use C/C++ as much as there is not all that much need for it, and better languages/platforms for certain jobs… Like web apps, and general Windows apps… Yes, that makes up most of the needs nowadays. I’ve always been Windows kinda guy, so naturally I’m using C# on .NET. Man, C# is sweet, and the .NET libraries are super sweet. OK, so at least C# has some basic compiler-directives, like symbol definition and conditional compilation. From a C background, that is very welcome indeed.

However, there is NO macro expansion!!! [Insert expletive here]. If you’ve used the CPP, you’ll soon start to miss it. I swear, man, I am so sick of typing tedious repetitive code. If you are one of those who would say to substitute the macros with functions, then forget it because I don’t want to create more overhead where it can be avoided. Besides, it just isn’t the same concept or in the same spirit.
So about a month ago, I started moaning about this again because I am so, so, so, did I say I was sooo sick of writing for-loops (for instance)? So I kindly asked someone (anyone) to add the CPP/Precompiler to C# on Facebook. OK, I know it was not included in C# for reasons unknown to me. But I believe Hejlsberg and co. had good reasons. But I know what I am doing, and I WANT IT!!! So how now brown cow?

So, having toyed with the idea for a couple of weeks, I spent another week or two actually thinking it out in my head how to build it, and which features it would include. Of course, I thought about how it could work with Visual Studio. Not surprisingly, after a few weeks of laying it all out in my head, I finally took some ‘time off’, sat down, and went about building it. Surprisingly, it took me just over half a day to finish the first complete app. So next time your boss catches you seemingly doing nothing, just tell ‘em that you’re laying it all out in your head first so the execution will be quicker and smoother.

Anyway, I will continue to write about how it works in subsequent posts and put the links up. Oh, I beg your pardon, I haven’t introduced it. I call it the ‘.NET Pre-Processor’, and it is DOTNETPP.EXE.

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