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Microsoft's saucy compiler exposes privates to devs

All and sundry welcome to slurp build process data

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Microsoft has delivered early code for its "compiler-as-a-service" project for Visual Basic and C#, which lets developers hook into the software building process.

Codenamed Roslyn, the project involved Microsoft completely rewriting the existing compilers for Visual Basic and C# from C++ to native Visual Basic and C#, respectively

When it comes to cooking code on Microsoft's platform, the transformation of source files into machine code has traditionally been a closed process that takes place inside the boxed-off compiler.

But Roslyn exposes this conversion process, thereby making it possible for those outside Microsoft to see what's happening – and build better tools for the languages in areas such as refactoring and deep visualisation.

S Somasegar, developer division corporate vice-president, blogged here:

The Roslyn compilers become services exposed for general consumption, with all of that internal compiler-discovered knowledge made available for developers and their tools to harness. The stages of the compiler for parsing, for doing semantic analysis, for binding, and for IL emitting are all exposed to developers via rich managed APIs.

There was no word from Microsoft on when Roslyn would become available, although Somasegar said Roslyn is "focused towards a post-Visual Studio 11 release".

The developer preview for Visual Studio 11 – which will be Visual Studio 2012 – was released at Microsoft's Build conference last month. The suite is expected next year.

"This CTP [Community Technology Preview] will help to illuminate the kinds of exciting end-to-end experiences that are possible with such technology," Somasegar said.

You can download the CTP here. ®

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