2007-05-23 18:31

The python spreadsheet: Another look (Traxter DSL)

I apologize in advance for any ugly amateurism in this post. It's my first attempt at a domain specific language :-)

Yesterday I posted about using PyCells to write a spreadsheet in Python.

Sadly, I can't figure out the problem with my code, and the PyCells mailing list seems to be pretty much dead.

So, I started thinking... what other ways are to achieve my goal? And decided to go medieval on this problem.

By that I mean that I will do it the most traditional way possible... with a twist.

The traditional way is, of course, to write one or more of lexer/parser/interpreter/compiler for the formula language.

Mind you, I don't intend to do anything complete, much less Excel-compatible (see Excel formula parsers are hell in this same blog.

So, let's start with a toy language, supporting the following:

  • Assignment to a variable
  • Classic 4-op arithmetics.
  • Function calls
  • Cell ranges

That's enough for a toy spreadsheet, and it should be easy to extend.

Here's a description of the grammar for such a language, written using Aperiot [1]:

# This is a simple language for arithmetic expressions


     plus   "+"
     times  "*"
     minus  "-"
     div    "/"
     equal  "="
     colon ":"
     comma ","
     semicolon ";"

     lpar  "("
     rpar  ")"




LIST             -> ASSIGNMENT                : "[$1]"
                  | ASSIGNMENT semicolon LIST : "[$1]+$3"
                  | ASSIGNMENT semicolon : "[$1]"

ASSIGNMENT       -> label equal EXPR : "($1,$3)"

ARGLIST          -> ARG comma ARGLIST : "[$1]+$3"
                  | ARG          : "[$1]"

ARG              -> RANGE       : "$1"
                  | EXPR        : "$1"
                  | label       : "$1"

EXPR             -> TERM              : "$1"
                  | TERM plus EXPR    : "(\'+\',$1,$3)"
                  | TERM minus EXPR   : "(\'-\',$1,$3)"

TERM             -> FACTOR               : "$1"
                  | FACTOR times TERM    : "(\'*\',$1,$3)"
                  | FACTOR div TERM      : "(\'/\',$1,$3)"

FACTOR           -> number           : "$1.val()"
                  | lpar EXPR rpar  : "(\'group\',$2)"
                  | FUNCALL     : "$1"
                  | label               : "$1"
                  | minus FACTOR    : "-$2"

FUNCALL          ->  label lpar ARGLIST rpar : "(\'funcall\',$1,$3)"

RANGE            -> label colon label   : "(\'range\',$1,$3)"

This transforms this:


Into this:

[(<aperiot.lexer.Identifier instance at 0xb7af10ac>,
    <aperiot.lexer.Identifier instance at 0xb7af142c>,
      <aperiot.lexer.Identifier instance at 0xb7af15cc>,
      <aperiot.lexer.Identifier instance at 0xb7af144c>)]),
 (<aperiot.lexer.Identifier instance at 0xb7b4c72c>, ('+', 2, 2))]

Which is sort of a tree with all the expressions in prefix notation in them.

Now, here is the twist: I will "compile" this tree into.... python code. So I can use eval to do the evaluation, just like in the original python spreadsheet recipe.

So this is sort of a preprocessor:

  • The user writes excel-like formulas.
  • The spreadsheet stores python code obtained through compilation.
  • The spreadsheet evals the python code.

Of course we have the same problem as usual: cell dependencies, which is the reason why I started playing with PyCells in the first place!

But... well, here's another trick: since I am compiling, I know whenever there is a variable referenced in the code. And I can remember them :-)

So, I can turn this:


Into this:

[['A1=SUM(a1,a2,a3)*2;', set(['a1', 'a3', 'a2'])],
 ['A3=2+2;', set([])]]

The "compiled" python code and a dependency set. And voila, this spreadsheet will propagate correctly.

Here's the compiler... in about 60 lines of python [2]. And since the whole point of this language is to track dependencies... let's call it Traxter.

Of course, this is a toy right now. But it's a toy with potential!

from pprint import pprint
from aperiot.parsergen import build_parser
import aperiot
import cellutils
import sys


def addOp(*args):
        return '+'.join([compile_token(a) for a in args])
def mulOp(*args):
        return '*'.join([compile_token(a) for a in args])
def subOp(*args):
        return '-'.join([compile_token(a) for a in args])
def divOp(*args):
        return '/'.join([compile_token(a) for a in args])

def groupOp(*args):
        return '(%s)'%compile_token(args[0])

def funcOp(*args):
        return '%s(%s)'%(args[0].symbolic_name,
                         ','.join([compile_token(a) for a in args[1]]))

def rangeOp(*args):
        return ','.join([compile_token(a) for a in cellutils.cellrange(c1,c2)])


def compile_token(token):
        if isinstance (token,aperiot.lexer.Identifier):
                return v
        if isinstance(token,list) or isinstance(token,tuple):
            return apply(operators[token[0]],token[1:])
        return str(token)

def compile_assignment(tokens):
        return '%s=%s;'%(target,compiled)

myparser = build_parser('traxter')
pprint (assign_list)

for assignment in assign_list:

print compiled
[1] You may be asking yourself:what the heck is Aperiot? Or Why the heck Aperiot? Well... I had never heard of it until 6 hours ago, and I just wrote a DSL using it. That means it's worth knowing.
[2] cellrange() is left as an exercise for the reader because my current implementation is shameful ;-)


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