I’m still considering what to work on next. As I mentioned earlier, OpenJDK seems to be one viable option. The only other idea I have at the moment is a massive change to the C and C++ front ends to GCC.
In particular I want to change the C/C++ front ends to be incremental compilers. The basic idea is to build a model of the user’s entire program, and then as changes occur, recompile only the minimum amount required.
This approach lends itself to a number of nice things: not just faster turnaround times, but also static analysis (e.g., as plugins to the compilation server — though this may be better if done in the middle end), refactoring, better IDE integration, etc. I expect we’d also see faster compilation the first time a program is compiled (i.e., not just in the recompilation case) since we would be able to reuse parsed header files in most situations.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about this and I have, I think, a reasonable plan for implementing it. There are a few implementation choices that require some experimentation, but I think that could safely be considered “phase 1″ of the project.
My only misgivings center on whether I really want to become a C and C++ expert, and whether it is worth putting this much effort into improving these compilers; especially since I think that C is generally overused.
The real drive behind this is that I’m interested in programmer productivity. Over the years I’ve found that many of the things I’ve found it easy to motivate to work on have fallen into this category, perhaps driven by my own annoyance with productivity impediments.
I’lll probably write a lot more about what this change would look like, how it would work, details about the design, various oddities I’ve considered. But for now I’m mostly interested in feedback regarding its advisabiilty and/or desirability.