What is Traditionally, compilers are black boxes -- source code goes in one end, magic happens in the middle, and object files or assemblies come out the other end. As compilers perform their magic, they build up deep understanding of the code they are processing, but that knowledge is unavailable to anyone but the compiler implementation wizards. The information is promptly forgotten after the translated output is produced.
For decades, this world view has served us well, but it is no longer sufficient. Increasingly we rely on integrated development environment (IDE) features such as IntelliSense, refactoring, intelligent rename, "Find all references," and "Go to definition" to increase our productivity. We rely on code analysis tools to improve our code quality and code generators to aid in application construction. As these tools get smarter, they need access to more and more of the deep code knowledge that only compilers possess. This is the core mission of the Roslyn project: opening up the black boxes and allowing tools and end users to share in the wealth of information compilers have about our code. Instead of being opaque source-code-in and object-code-out translators, through the Roslyn project, compilers become services—APIs that you can use for code related tasks in your tools and applications.
The transition to compilers as services dramatically lowers the barrier to entry for creating code focused tools and applications. It creates many opportunities for innovation in areas such as meta-programming, code generation and transformation, interactive use of the C# and VB languages, and embedding of C# and VB in domain specific languages.
The Microsoft "Roslyn" CTP previews the new language object models for code generation, analysis, and refactoring, and the upcoming support for scripting and interactive use of C# and Visual Basic. This document provides a conceptual overview of the Roslyn project. Further details can be found in the walkthroughs and samples included in the Roslyn CTP.
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