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am 7. April 1999
As with several other O'Reilly books, I found Lex & Yacc to be maddeningly uneven. The approach is to give a too-brief synopsis of the tool, then illustrate its use using a very specific example that, one suspects, is merely the handiest project the authors had available.
I had a fair bit of programming experience when I bought the book, but none with Lex or Yacc. Some fundamental questions came up during the course of my muddling through, and these were left unanswered. I actually got more insight into these tools from a ~20-page web site on the topic.
The reference chapters are organized alphabetically ("ambiguities & conflicts", "bugs", ..., "%ident declaration"), and in a way that does not help someone who is looking for a specific answer (in trying to find out about the possibility of more than one parser in a program, who would think to look under 'v' for "variant and multiple grammars"?). These 'reference chapters' seemed more like a place to dump the information not discussed elsewhere.
Maybe it's a lost cause, finding a comprehensive, well-written introduction to such an arcane topic, but I'm still looking.
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am 8. Januar 2014
First of all I would like to put a focus on the general appearance - unlike many other ebooks this digital edition displays passages containing source code or graphics clearly, with a good contrast and excellent readability. Good layout job by O'Reilly.
Lex and yacc are powerful tools for software engineers, providing efficient ways for parsing source code (and lyric works, if you write any...)
On the other hand, versatility goes along with complexity. Doug Brown understands how to systematically dissect the field into consecutive steps, each accompanied by well chosen examples, leading the reader safely through the jungle of regular expressions, EBNF, symbol tables, grammars and tokens. This book is a good refresher for experienced software developers but a beginner should be aware that the study of the art of compiler construction is inevitable to fully deploy the massive amount of knowledge packed up in this book. Surely not a bedside reading, as you feel the urge to hack in the lines of the examples and see what they do. Considering the mature state of both tools I was not sure if this edition was a good choice - now I am glad to own it.
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am 9. Januar 1998
I knew nothing about either lex or yacc when I picked up this book. However, John Levine clearly explains the basics, devoting separate tutorial chapters to both lex and yacc as well as two chapters for complete real-world examples (I was impressed with the chapter about parsing SQL). Despite the repeated nature of parts of the reference sections, I highly recommend the book to anybody else who needs to learn how lex and yacc work. Especially useful for identifying common problems. Includes documentation for nearly all of the functions lex and yacc define.
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am 18. Oktober 1999
The book is compact, well written and describes really every problem with LEX & YACC I can think of. I've got every answer I had about these tools in this book. It's a good book for everyone who'll write a compiler or any other program which needs parsing.
The only thing I have is the lack of Bison-describing. They reference to the Bison-documentation, but this would make the book complete.
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am 16. November 1999
Lex & Yacc are fairly complex topics and any assitance is greatly appreciated. And this book is a good introduction to these tools. However, many details are only mentioned in passing and others completely ignored. A 2nd edition, with a more extensive list of the Yacc options and information on bison would earn a well respected spot on my bookshelf.
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am 12. Januar 1999
As a graduated software engineer I have used lex&yacc for many non-trivial tasks, and so I've also read a lot of both docs and usenet material, but no one was so informative and useful as this. I was not surprised since John Levine has been the FAQ mantainer and moderator of comp.compilers for a lot of years,so I knew its knowledge of this two tools come from a lenghty experience. I've expecially appreciated its explanation of the inner workings of the yacc parser (so now I deeply and clearly know what shift/reduce and reduce/reduce conflicts are), the explanation of the syntax of y.outpur error file, the reviews of the various versions of yacc&lex available, its showing of the most common problems (here the authors' experience counts!). Of course I enjoyed the clear style of writing. I'm no more a beginner, so I can't be a good judge of its quality as tutorial; anyway I'm sure this is the best book for a newcomer also. No examples like the infamous 'DING DONG DANG' parser of some unix documentation, but real-life ones, fully and clearly explained - with the first of them developed from a simple version to a sophisticated one in order to gradually teach you the subject. If only I had read it before ...
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am 1. Mai 1997
In general this book is very good, and I would highly recommended it for anybody using tools like lex and yacc. It covers all the areas (both good and bad) of these tools. However, I find that the book is frustrating and incomplete in two ways :-

(1) when it comes to solving some of the problems reported by such tools as lex and yacc, there is not enough of examples, especially less-trivial examples, and some of the more potentially obscure problems that can occur.

(2) it is very frustrating that the page numbers listed in the index are out by 1 or 2 pages. In this era of technology this should not happen.
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am 12. März 2000
This was my first O'Reilly book, and one I've used ever since as a yardstick of what they're capable of producing.
Faced with the daunting task of writing a compiler, I discovered this book and was amazed at the wealth and depth of information it contains.
It could possibly do with a little extra theoretical background, but if you are looking at any sort of task involving lex and yacc or their derivatives, buy this excellent book.
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am 6. März 1998
A really good book...this is basically the only good tutorial/reference on purely yacc/lex topics. If I have one complaint it is that it should be a little longer, but otherwise it's great; it covers all the lex/yacc versions including flex and bison, has good examples as well as thorough explanations of key concepts. If you need to parse a complex file format or compile a language, this is basically required reading.
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This book, along with the Dragon Book, forms the required reading for anyone interested in compilers and language processing. I was quite impressed by the clarity of the examples, and the breadth of the different lex and yacc implementations that it covers. If you need to do complex parsing or language design, definitely pick up a copy of this.
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