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XPL is a dialect of the PL/I programming language, developed in 1967, used for the development of compilers for computer languages. It was designed and implemented by a team with William McKeeman, James J. Horning, and David B. Wortman at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. It was first announced at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, California.

It is the name of both the programming language and the compiler generator system (or TWS: translator writing system) based on the language.


XPL was designed just as PL/I was introduced. IBM, in designing PL/I, had largely abandoned the FORTRAN-flavored language constructs in favor of forms more like ALGOL 60 had in it, so the authors of XPL decided to base XPL on PL/I. XPL was small language whereas PL/I was not. A significant language feature of XPL was the efficient garbage-collecting of strings.

XPL was compiled by XCOM, a relatively simple bottom-up compiler. It was bootstrapped through Burroughs Algol onto the IBM System/360 computer. The compiler was distributed through the IBM SHARE users organization.



  • Alexander, W.G. and Wortman, D.B. "Static and Dynamic Charactersistics of XPL Programs." IEEE Computer Nov 1975; 41-46.
  • Ancona, Massimo, Dodero, Gabriella, and Durante, Ercole Luigi "Cross software development for microprocessors using a translator writing system" Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Software Engineering 1979: 399-402.
  • Kamnitzer, S.H. "Bootstrapping XPL from IBM/360 to UNIVAC 1100." ACM SIGPLAN Notices May 1975: 14-20.
  • Karger, Paul A. "An Implementation of XPL for Multics." SB thesis. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1972.
  • Klumpp, Allan R. "Space Station Flight Software: Hal/S or Ada?" Computer March 1985: 20-28.
  • Leach, Geoffrey and Golde, Helmut. "Bootstrapping XPL to an XDS Sigma 5 Computer." Software Practice and Experience 3 (1973): 235-244.
  • McKeeman, William M., Horning, James J. and Wortman, David B. A Compiler Generator. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970.
  • McKeeman, W. M., Horning, James J., Nelson, E.C., and Wortman, D. B "The XPL compiler generator system." AFIPS Conference Proceedings: 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference. Washington DC: The Thompson Book Company. 1968: 617-635.
  • Sitton, Gary A., Kendrick, Thomas A., and Carrick, jr., A. Gil. "The PL/EXUS Language and Virtual Machine" Proceedings of the ACM-IEEE Symposium on High-level-language Computer Architecture Nov, 1973: 124-130.
  • Slimick, John "Current Systems Inplementation Languages: One User's View" Proceedings of the SIGPLAN symposium on Languages for system implementation Oct, 1971: 20-28.
  • Storm, Mark W., and Polk, Jim A. "Usage of an XPL Based Compiler Generator System" Proceedings of the 14th annual ACM Southeast Regional Conference Apr, 1976: 19-26.
  • Wortman, D.B. "A roster of XPL implementations." ACM SIGPLAN Notices Jan 1978: 70-74.

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