The project can be cloned from github repository.
The revision described in this post is 550449af09030ced25653dfc0961b2cbfd05bbcb.


The syntax is simplified version of Java’s. You can specify type and name of a field. There are no are no modifiers and keywords like ‘static’,’volatile’,’transient’ etc. I am trying to keep it simple so far.

Fields {

    int field

    start {
        field = 5
        print field

Grammar changes

Until now, you could only define methods in class body scope. It’s time to introduce fields:

classBody :  field* function* ;
field : type name;

I also added assign statement for already defined variables:

assignment : name EQUALS expression;

Why I have not implemented assign statement for so long?

To make use of fields you have to assign them to something. Turns out I have not yet implemented such a basic thing as assignment statement for already declared variables. Why haven’t I done that? Well It was kind of on purpose.

The reason behind it is I would like the variables to be constant (immutable). Assigning means changing state - changing state lead to many issues (synchronization,side effects,memory leaks).

Have you ever read a Java code and that looks something like this:

Stuff trustMeIWontModifyYourArg(SomeObject arg) {
    ... 999 lines of code 
    arg = null; //or some other nasty hidden stuff
    ...another 999 lines of code

By reading the signature you probably thought to yourself - “hmmm… does this method modify argument? Well, it does not have a final modifier but most of us (Java programmers) neglect it. Judging by it’s name it should not modify my args so let’s just use it.”

Two hours later you randomly get NullPointerException somewhere else in your code. The method modified your argument.

If you have no side effects in your methods you can easily make them parallel without worrying about synchronization issues and other nasty stuff. Such methods does not have a state = there are no side effects! The easiest way to achieve lack of side effects is to use values (constant variables) only.

You can learn more about statements and what’s wrong with them in awesome talk by Uncle Bob (the talk about assignments starts at 11:15): Check it out!

Generating bytecode

Declaring field

To declare a field you use asm’s library visitField method. It adds the field to the fields[] member in the class structure and automatically increases the fields_count counter:

public class FieldGenerator {

    private final ClassWriter classWriter;

    public FieldGenerator(ClassWriter classWriter) {
        this.classWriter = classWriter;

    public void generate(Field field) {
        String name = field.getName();
        String descriptor = field.getType().getDescriptor();
        FieldVisitor fieldVisitor = classWriter.visitField(Opcodes.ACC_PUBLIC, name,descriptor, null, null);

Reading field

To get a field you need:

  • field name
  • field type descriptor (if the field is of type int it’d be mean “I”)
  • owner internal name (if the field is owned by com.yourcompany.Car then it’d be “com/yourcompany/Car”)
public class ReferenceExpressionGenerator {

     //constructor and fields

    public void generate(FieldReference fieldReference) {
        String varName = fieldReference.geName();
        Type type = fieldReference.getType();
        String ownerInternalName = fieldReference.getOwnerInternalName();
        String descriptor = type.getDescriptor();
        methodVisitor.visitFieldInsn(Opcodes.GETFIELD, ownerInternalName,varName,descriptor);
  • ALOAD,0 - gets “this” object which is local variable at index 0. Non-static methods have “this” reference by default at index 0 in local variables.
  • GETFIELD - opcode for reading field.

Assigning to field

public class AssignmentStatementGenerator {

    //constructor and fields
    public void generate(Assignment assignment) {
        String varName = assignment.getVarName();
        Expression expression = assignment.getExpression();
        Type type = expression.getType();
        if(scope.isLocalVariableExists(varName)) {
            int index = scope.getLocalVariableIndex(varName);
            methodVisitor.visitVarInsn(type.getStoreVariableOpcode(), index);
        Field field = scope.getField(varName);
        String descriptor = field.getType().getDescriptor();

The local variables have priority over fields if there is ambiguity. If you declared local variable named exactly like a field you wouldn’t want to reference field but a variable, right? That is why the local variables are searched first.

The PUTFIELD opcode is similar to GETFIELD but pops additional item off the stack - the result of expression to be assigned into field.


Following Enkel class:

Fields {

    int field

    start {
        field = 5
        print field

generates bytecode:

kuba@kuba-laptop:~/repos/Enkel-JVM-language$ javap -c Fields
public class Fields {
  public int field;

  public void start();
       0: aload_0               //get "this"
       1: ldc           #9      // load constant "5" from constant pool 
       3: putfield      #11     // Field field:I - pop 5 off the stack and write to field
       6: getstatic     #17     // Field java/lang/System.out:Ljava/io/PrintStream; 
       9: aload_0               //get "this" reference
      10: getfield      #11     // Field field:I
      13: invokevirtual #22     // Method "Ljava/io/PrintStream;".println:(I)V
      16: return

 //autogenerated constructor and main method

Jakub Dziworski

JVM Dev Blog