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  • Proprietary software
    Mike Sun 31 of Aug, 2008 09:21 AEST

    I've had similar shockers with commercial software that I've bought. Software is one of several things that are very difficult to "try before you buy". Sure, you can have a crippled demo, but the crippling is often such that the demo isn't a good test of the product.

    In this particular case, it's source to source translation. Not something I'm very familiar with, but it's essentially a parser and a code generator, both of which are pretty well known, just tedious to get right. Obviously, very good parsers exist for the source language; every compiler for the source language has one at the front end. Code generators are a little less common. There is a code generator in the back end of every decompiler. I happen to know a bit about decompilers, and I know that the back end is trivial compared to the other decompiler components.

    So really, there should be no excuse for a source to source translator to get the "easy" stuff right. As you have noted, the source and target languages might be such that some code is difficult to express in the target language. This you expect, and are prepared to work around manually.

    Maybe proprietary software will eventually fade away; there is talk of Microsoft becoming far more open source compatible with the departure of Bill Gates. I suspect it won't fade, at least not much.

    Maybe some day reverse engineering tools will become so good that anyone can get a "usable" source code with "little" effort (for certain values of "usable" and "little"; it just depends on how far and fast the technology can advance). In this case, it might even be easier to use a decompiler rather than a source to source translator; that way, you "reuse" the parser (which we know works very well and is well debugged) in the original compiler.

    I can dream. But don't tell me it's impossible with stories about hamburgers and cows, omelettes and eggs, or pigs and sausages.

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