Preface (2005)


Fifteen Years in Industry

The GENTLE Compiler Construction System, originally designed in 1989 at the German National Research Center for Information Technolgy, is now in industrial use for fifteen years: The very first system was sold to Nixdorf Computers, who used it to implement their Combined Object-Oriented Language, a C++ alternative for large mission-critical projects, e.g. in the chemical industry. The first Gentle system in 2005 was sold to Ritlabs, creators of The Bat, a leading email client.

Here are some more examples: Robot control software generated with Gentle is in use at the automotive industry (e.g. at Volkswagen); in a project conducted by Secunet, Gentle was used to create a compiler for the Security Policy Specification Language of the IETF; Siemens licensed Gentle for telecommunication applications, and Fraunhofer writes their compiler for the ETSI Testing and Test Control Notation in Gentle; the International Institute for Software Technology of the United Nations University is using Gentle in education and various projects to support RAISE, a Rigorous Approach to Industrial Software Engineering.


The GENTLE Compiler Construction System is available in two editions:

  • GENTLE 97 was published in 1997 together with the first edition of this manual (Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich and Vienna, 1997)
  • GENTLE 21 is distributed since 2001 by Metarga and is continuously maintained according to the requirements of its users

This manual covers the common functionality of both editions.

However, GENTLE 21 provides additional features such as a powerful parsing strategy that overcomes the limitations of Yacc, iteration statements that simplify the traversal of data structures, a compact notation to embed target text into code generation rules, and more. These extensions are described in a companion manual.

Friedrich Wilhelm Schröer

January 2005