An EBNF parser and LL(1) checker, written in Scala.

This project consists of

Each project is split into an API component and a Main.scala CLI component. The CLI driver serves as an example of the API usage, as a proof-of-concept, and as a useful tool for developers (especially those working on language and compiler design).

The CLI drivers have the same interface: they read from standard in, or from a file if passed one as a parameter. They output to standard out a formatted grammar, suitable for machine consumption, or an error message if the input is not EBNF-formatted (see below). Loner additionally errors if the grammar is not LL(1). The exit status reflects the success state (0: success, 1: not ebnf, 2: invalid arguments). Given the -h flags gives a help message. Given the -q suppresses output.

Compiled binaries can be found in the Releases of GitHub

Find me on GitHub!


API documentation available for

Check out the live demo!

EBNF File Format

See the docs for the EbnfParser. In brief:

From Matt Might's specification


<expr> ::= <term> '+' <expr> |  <term>
<term> ::= <factor> '*' <term> |  <factor>
<factor> ::= '(' <expr> ')' |  <const>
<const> ::= 'integer'

For example, the rule:

<term> ::= [ '-' ] <factor> 

allows factors to be negated.

For example, the rule:

<args> ::= <arg> { ',' <arg> } 

defines a conventional comma-separated argument list.

For example, the rule:

<expr> ::= <term> ('+' | '-') <expr> 

defines an expression form that allows both addition and subtraction.

This version of EBNF admits a "comment-like" extension syntax: a # escapes the rest of the line, such that it is not parsed at all. Indeed, it is not kept in the grammar object at all, so the result of formatting loses the comments (considered a feature: it cleans the output for consumption by another tool).

The following grammar from the tests is thus valid:

# this is a comment
<A> ::= 'a'     # a values
        | 'b'   # b values
        | 'c'   # c values

All whitespace is ignored.

Developer Guide

Loner is configured and built using sbt, and conforms to all the standard commands. Because it provides main methods, the project code may be run via run.

The two primary projects are loner and ebnf. Switch between them with project; loner depends on ebnf, for ease of development.

Documentation is generated via scaladocSite. sbt-site and sbt-ghpages provide site-generation tools for the website.

Tests are written using scalatest and are accessible via the standard test commands. All API features require tests—new features or bug-fixes should ensure test coverage, in the style of the originals.

It also uses the assembly plugin (providing an assembly command), which is used to generated FAT executable jars—these jars have no dependencies other than a working java runtime environment, and are uploaded in the releases section. They can be executed directly (chmod -u+x <jar> ; ./<jar>) or via java (java -jar <jar>).


Does not support escaping special characters (yet).


This project was built while enrolled in Comp 520 at UNC Chapel Hill, taught by Dr. Jan Prins, in Spring 2019. The topics of this compilers course inspired loner.