I have read this book, went through the exercises and went back to reference this book a number of times.
It’s 10/10 excellent
but I confess I almost forgot to write a review as I mostly read it online and only bought the (heavy book. See pic) to make sure the author got paid for his brilliant work.
Summary: “A comprehensive introduction to writing an interpreter for a dynamically typed, object-oriented toy programming language (Lox). Throughout the book the author develops two complete interpreters for the language from start to finish, including all the front-end and backend parts. The first is a simple AST walking interpreter implemented in Java, and the second is a moderately optimized VM written in C, including a garbage collector.” (src)
Batteries Included = Comes together with all possible parts required for full usability
Every developer should:
- Implement a programming language at least once.
- Use this book as a guide.
I confess I didn’t arrive at this book naively. I have previously taken 1 university course on compilers and implemented parts of a language naively, i.e. just having a go without any advance thought. If possible I would recommend “having a go” first as it will truly make you appreciate how great this book is.
Robert Nystrom gently leads you down the garden path of creating an interpreter in java and then in C. Even with no C/java experience I think most people could follow along. In fact a major positive of the book is that all code is covered in the book. In theory and mostly in practice I did this. I implemented the language as I followed the book. I wasn’t making his lox language but every step he showed was applicable and useful.
Since I’ve been writing a language on/off for a few years and recently stumbled upon the book. I’ve been particularly interested to read the parts of the book I’ve already implemented to see how someone else approached or thinks about the problem. It has been highly amusing, Robert has some keen insights and his diagrams are brilliant!
If you are a programmer buy this book and more importantly follow it to implement a language that interests you.
The insight it will give you long term is invaluable.
Link to referenced summary: https://eli.thegreenplace.net/2022/book-review-crafting-interpreters-by-robert-nystrom/
Bonus Points: +1 for the author as I emailed them in 2020 when I read the book and they gave a detailed reply to a particularly niche query. Thanks Bob.