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What if parsing was ...? Aspirations to a world that is easier to parse.

Parsing is one of those activities that never goes away. It comes up in a surprisingly diverse range of programmer tasks, from compiler writing, to log analysis, to API communication. It's been studied ad nauseum by computer scientists and enormous numbers of important theoretical results are known about every corner of the discipline. And yet, the tools that we use on a day to day basis as practitioners seem strangely inflexible, weak and brittle.

The most widely used parsing tools are regexps. And of course, regexps are great for what they do. If what you need is to recognise a regular language, or perhaps even extract some information from a regular language, then you've got the perfect tool for the job. Not only that, but most languages give you a fast and convenient way to do it.

Beyond that however, thinks start getting fairly arcane. There are of course good tools out there, all of which make slightly different assumptions about what you might like to parse and how to…

Generating etags automatically when needed

Have you ever wanted M-. (the emacs command which finds the definition of the term under the cursor) to just "do the right thing" and go to the most current definition site, but were in a language that didn't have an inferior process set-up to query about source locations correctly (as is done in lisp, ocaml and some other languages with sophisticated emacs interfaces)?

Well, fret no more. Here is an approach that will let you save the appropriate files and regenerate your TAGS file automatically when things change assuring that M-. takes you to the appropriate place.

You will have to reset the tags-table-list or set it when you first use M-. and you'll want to change the language given to find and etags in the 'create-prolog-tags function (as you're probably not using prolog), but otherwise it shouldn't require much customisation.

And finally, you will need to run etags once manually, or run 'M-x create-prolog-tags' in order to get the initia…