[JSR308] Replace JAIF format with XML for external annotations

Arnout Engelen findbugs at bzzt.net
Wed Aug 22 03:59:56 EDT 2007

Bill Pugh schreef:
> The JSR308 web pages proposal JAIF as an format for annotations 
> external to both source and classfiles.
> http://groups.csail.mit.edu/pag/jsr308/annotation-file-utilities/
> While I think that an external textual representation is a great idea, 
> I am very dubious about having a representation described by a BNF 
> grammar:
>      http://groups.csail.mit.edu/pag/jsr308/annotation-file-format.pdf
> David Hovemeyer put some effort into parsing this, and it is taking 
> more time than I would have hoped.
> Why don't we just use an XML representation for the JAIF files? 
> Parsing is so 20th century.
First - very good to see activity here, I'm definitely a fan :).

The article mentions they went for a non-XML format because they wanted 
to support this human-readable format anyway, and a parser for it would 
only have to be written once anyway. The latter is, of course, only true 
if it's released under sufficiently permissive conditions ;).

In a mail from Michel Ernst to this list on 9-2-2007, he mentioned MIT 
has already built some tools that should contain a parser for this 
format, and those were due to be released soon - I haven't checked if 
that happened ;).

Perhaps we could use the human-readable format with the MIT parser for 
the time being, and when the need arises define a corresponding XML 
format and extend the parser to also support that format? That way, 
applications using the parser, at least in theory, should be hardly 
affected when moving to the extended parser.

It should be quite easy to map the BNF definition to a DTD defining an 
XML format that corresponds closely to the existing format.


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