GNU Project parser generator (yacc replacement)


Compile a bison definition file

$ bison [path/to/file.y]

Compile in debug mode, which causes the resulting parser to write additional information to the standard output

$ bison --debug [path/to/file.y]

Specify the output filename

$ bison --output [path/to/output.c] [path/to/file.y]

Be verbose when compiling

$ bison --verbose


bison - GNU Project parser generator (yacc replacement)


bison [OPTION]... FILE


Bison is a parser generator in the style of yacc(1). It should be upwardly compatible with input files designed for yacc.

Input files should follow the yacc convention of ending in .y. Unlike yacc, the generated files do not have fixed names, but instead use the prefix of the input file. Moreover, if you need to put C++ code in the input file, you can end his name by a C++-like extension (.ypp or .y++), then bison will follow your extension to name the output file (.cpp or .c++). For instance, a grammar description file named parse.yxx would produce the generated parser in a file named, instead of yacc's or old Bison version's

This description of the options that can be given to bison is adapted from the node Invocation in the bison.texinfo manual, which should be taken as authoritative.

Bison supports both traditional single-letter options and mnemonic long option names. Long option names are indicated with -- instead of -. Abbreviations for option names are allowed as long as they are unique. When a long option takes an argument, like --file-prefix, connect the option name and the argument with =.

Generate LALR(1) and GLR parsers.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too. The same is true for optional arguments.

Operation modes:

-h, --help
display this help and exit
-V, --version
output version information and exit
output directory containing locale-dependent data
output directory containing skeletons and XSLT
-y, --yacc
emulate POSIX Yacc
-W, --warnings=[CATEGORY]
report the warnings falling in CATEGORY


-L, --language=LANGUAGE
specify the output programming language (this is an experimental feature)
-S, --skeleton=FILE
specify the skeleton to use
-t, --debug
instrument the parser for debugging
enable locations computation
-p, --name-prefix=PREFIX
prepend PREFIX to the external symbols
-l, --no-lines
don't generate '#line' directives
-k, --token-table
include a table of token names


also produce a header file
likewise but cannot specify FILE (for POSIX Yacc)
-r, --report=THINGS
also produce details on the automaton
write report to FILE
-v, --verbose
same as '--report=state'
-b, --file-prefix=PREFIX
specify a PREFIX for output files
-o, --output=FILE
leave output to FILE
-g, --graph[=FILE]
also output a graph of the automaton
-x, --xml[=FILE]
also output an XML report of the automaton (the XML schema is experimental)

Warning categories include:

unset or unused midrule values
incompatibilities with POSIX YACC
all the warnings
turn off warnings in CATEGORY
turn off all the warnings
treat warnings as errors

THINGS is a list of comma separated words that can include:

describe the states
complete the core item sets with their closure
explicitly associate lookahead tokens to items
describe shift/reduce conflicts solving
include all the above information
disable the report


Written by Robert Corbett and Richard Stallman.

Reporting Bugs

Report bugs to <>.


Copyright © 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

See Also

lex(1), flex(1), yacc(1).

The full documentation for bison is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and bison programs are properly installed at your site, the command

info bison

should give you access to the complete manual.

Referenced By

eyapp(1), treereg(1), yapp(1)

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