Thursday, May 24, 2007

Addressing Sirocco and Liza Only

XACT Assembly language to C transformation

A company called Applied Conversion Technologies trademarked the name for a tool that transforms assembly language to C, which is part of "X4MR based Automated Code Transformation" (XACT). They do not specify the Assembly language since they have mostly demo's for x86 to C, ULTRIX to C, and a well developed system for CDC469 to C. The CDC469 is/was in Phalanx(Gattling) Naval guns. Their Assembly to C system is designed to handle a simple assembler front-end plug in and internally operate on de-compiling simple C, recognizing larger patterns such as loops, conditional blocks, argument setup, arithmetic and logical expression de-compiling, data table organization. The major setup for a new language is mapping instructions and pseudo-ops to simple C and installing the MACRO syntax/semantics, if any.

This italicized language above is ten years old. Applied Conversion Technologies no longer exists as far as I can tell. Have you heard of Bob Sheff?

My understanding is that folks still write in C if they have to turn extremely tight corners with the least space possible (missile, fighter jet, micro-controllers), since it was created in the days when memory and disk space cost a fortune. I found C remarkably elegant, unbelievably tight and efficient, especially under the craftsmanship of one who knew how to structure the blocks "just right."

The insane GOTO of FORTRAN bought the farm with C and good riddance. C led to C++, and C++ led to Java. Now Java and OOP your humble blogger has spent some time considering. I taught that stuff for Sun in a past life. Yes, you can stop worrying about pointers, but you have to start worrying about threads, and do you have any words on the distinction between Java and C Sharp? Java is for real. Is C Sharp?

The JVM is food for thought.

What is the current status of C and decompiler activity? Is it obsolete? Know anything about XACT and X4MR decompiling into C? What do/did you do in software? Willing to share any info? I would be most grateful.


Blogger Jeff Strain said...

I failed to avert my eyes. At least now I know where the hell "x4mr" comes from. I've been trying to decipher that since I started reading your blog (since the beginning).

5/24/2007 10:22 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

As the Inventor of X4MR Technology, and a Founder of Applied Conversion Technologies, I am quite disturbed that you only know about the early work we did!
I would have hoped you would know about CHILL to C/C++ translation system done for Siemans AG; Pascal to C for Applied Materials Inc.; and PL/M to C for Elbit Ltd and Tadiran Systems. Other uses are described in the (reconstructed web pages:
And, I use it weekly to translate local garage sale adds to a map for my Saturday morning outing.
"folks still write in C if " they are old dogs, unwilling to learn some new tricks.
I have a bunch of links and ideas about DeCompiling, if anyone is interested.

Btw: What was the "Addressing Sirocco and Liza Only" in response to?
What is you blog about?
Regards, Bob Sheff

5/25/2007 6:33 AM  
Blogger Sirocco said...


I think he was addressing us since he knew we both work in software. However, on this matter it sounds like you would be far more qualified than either of us to andwer any questions he might have.

C certainly is by no means obsolete, although a lot of work which was previously done in C has moved to C++. A lot of the work I do currently involves multi-threaded Java, which works fine -- there is a certain initial cost to learning how to handle threads, but once learned the problems tend to be pretty tractable.

C# I have only looked at and played with, although I should find out this afternoon if we are going to have an opportunity to use it on a fairly large-scale project, which would be nice.

If there is something specific you are looking for information on, I'll try to answer if I can.

5/25/2007 8:44 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...


Thanks for responding. Sirocco is correct in that I know he and Liza are in a position to talk shop about programming, and I was curious.

As to what this blog is about, uh, good question. I can say that it is not about software. I have a degree of confidence that my use of the blogger handle "x4mr" will not impact your business opportunities;-)

5/25/2007 1:33 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

My software background is in "business applications" (primarily for government). Until somewhere around the mid-90's most of this type of software was developed in COBOL and run on mainframe computers. The most important breakthrough for running these applications on server based networks happened when Microsoft released Windows 95, really the first affordable multi-tasking operating system for affordable workstations (given that IBM botched the marketing of OS/2.) That also dovetailed into a timeframe when everyone was starting to prepare for Y2K. Almost immediately, it seemed there were a lot of "development tools" out there for developing client/server based business applications, but my shop eventually settled on Powerbuilder and Oracle. Also, the cost of developing customized applications skyrocketed and we were more or less forced into "off the shelf" software acquisitions whenever it was feasible. My programming days were over by the mid-90's and I spent most of my time in project management, but I also developed business process models which were handed off to developers. I decided that I didn't want to sit in front of a tube all day, which is about all you do when you're a programmer.

It's interesting to find out what "x4mr" is about.

5/25/2007 6:10 PM  

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