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Re: Dynamic syntax support

Howard Chu wrote:
Here's a project for someone fairly ambitious:

The goal is to be able to dynamically add support for new syntaxes to slapd
simply by feeding in their specifications. Typically this would mean feeding
in an ABNF description from an IETF document, though it may also mean feeding
in ASN.1 documents. E.g., we want to be able to insert (using ldapmodify) the
ABNF into an LDAP entry somewhere and have it automatically converted into an
executable parser.

I think a more practical route will involve embedding a Forth engine into the
OpenLDAP code. There's already been a fair amount of work done with BNF in
Forth, so it shouldn't be too hard to get started:

The nice thing about Forth is that the core language is tiny, it's extremely
portable, it's extremely extensible, and any implementation is inherently both
an interpreter and a compiler. As interpreted languages goes, it beats pretty
much every other common scripting language for memory and CPU efficiency.

A parser that spits out Forth code would also make a good mechanism for the component-based matching functions. Even though we have dynamically loadable modules, relying on ASN.1 compilers like eSNACC is pretty clumsy. (And of course, according to the ITS, eSNACC is currently broken anyway.) This sort of thing ought to Just Work, without end-users needing any other development tools. I.e., LDAPadd an entry with ASN.1 structure definitions and immediately be able to perform component matching on the structures.

It ought to be straightforward to convert a grammar into a set of Forth words
to recognize the grammar, for a slapd syntax validator. I'm not sure yet what
we would do for Prettifiers or Normalizers, nor what to do for Matching rules.
We could simply accept them as Forth source code. Personally I haven't written
Forth in over 20 years but it seems to me that a TIL is the most suitable type
of language for the job.

On the whole it doesn't seem like new syntaxes pop up in LDAP specs very
often. Some may say this is because they're not really needed. I believe
they've been sorely needed, and people have just avoided them because they
required too much work to properly support in existing implementations. We can
fix that.
  -- Howard Chu
  Chief Architect, Symas Corp.  http://www.symas.com
  Director, Highland Sun        http://highlandsun.com/hyc/
  Chief Architect, OpenLDAP     http://www.openldap.org/project/