Generating Programming Environments with Integrated Text and Graphics for VLSI Design Systems
McCaskill, George Alexander
The constant improvements in device integration, the development of new technologies and the emergence of new design techniques call for flexible, maintainable and robust software tools. The generic nature of compiler-compiler systems, with their semi-formal specifications, can help in the construction of those tools. This thesis describes the Wright editor generator which is used in the synthesis of language-based graphical editors (LBGEs). An LBGE is a programming environment where the programs being manipulated denote pictures. Editing actions can be specified through both textual and graphical interfaces. Editors generated by the Wright system are specified using the formalism of attribute grammars. The major example editor in this thesis, Stick-Wright, is a design entry system for the construction of VLSI circuits. Stick-Wright is a hierarchical symbolic layout editor which exploits a combination of text and graphics in an interactive environment to provide the circuit designer with a tool for experimenting with circuit topologies. A simpler system, Pict-Wright: a picture drawing system, is also used to illustrate the attribute grammar specification process. This thesis aims to demonstrate the efficacy of formal specification in the generation of software-tools. The generated system Stick-Wright shows that a text/graphic programming environment can form the basis of a powerful VLSI design tool, especially with regard to providing the designer with immediate graphical feedback. Further applications of the LBGE generator approach to system design are given for a range of VLSI design activities.