Thursday, March 18, 2010

Converting C code to Python

This may sound like a weird thing to do, but actually, I have craved for something like that every time I have to read C code. Converting C code to Python, can not only help us understand code more easily, but also turn non perfomance-critical code easier to maintain. C can be easy enough to read if well-written and formatted (indented) adequately, however having to move back and forth between .h and .c files drives me mad sometimes.

You can imagine my joy when I came across "ctopy", create by none other than Eric Raymond himself!

The first problem I ran into was the fact that ctopy was not available on my Ubuntu. No problem, a quick search through Eric's web site lead me to it:

Naturally, ctopy is written in python and my immediate impulse was to download and test it.

For test code I decided to download a small C program from the "computer language shoutout" site:

Unfortunately even for this simple program, ctopy didn't do a good job. I am not including the results here. but you can easily replicate them with the command:

cat mandelbrot.c | indent |./ctopy

The man page of ctopy recommends to pipe the C code through indent, because it relies on the indentation of the C code to do the translation.

Well as Raymond himself says in the beggining of ctopy's man page, its a quick and dirty translator, which requires a human to finish the job.

Anyway, that's how far my dream of a "Google Translate" for code went. I decided to post the links in case someone decides to continue where Raymond stopped.
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