Metaprogramming and Free Availability of Sources

Cette page est aussi disponible en français.

Please read these warnings.


We introduce metaprogramming in a completely informal way, and sketch out a theory of it. We explain why it is a major stake for computing today, by considering the processes underlying software development. We show, from the same perspective, how metaprogramming is related to another challenge of computing, the free availability of the sources of software, and how these two phenomena naturally complement each other.

[Available in HTML, PDF, LaTeX source; compression with bzip2]


Having been contacted in november 1998 to contribute an article to conference «Autour du Libre 1999», held between january 25th to 27th 1999 at ENST-Bretagne, I initially intended to submit a text of political economy on liberalism and free software. But, though this topic did deserve a better treatment with the public than had had, it did not have the emergency and the novelty of another topic that I care for, which is completely unknown to the public: metaprogramming, and its relationship with free software. Thus, since I don't have the productivity required to write two quality articles in only two months, I only undertook to write on that second topic, with the article "métaprogrammation et libre disponibilité des sources" as a result. I subsequently translated it into english to give it a larger audience, though I fear this quick english translation is even worse than its french original.


The slides for the presentations I did respectively at conference "Autour du Libre 1999" (ll99), and during the third days on Algorithmic Information Theory (tai99) are available as LaTeX source code in the same archive as the main article. The first slides, in French, follow the text of the article itself, but I admit they are ill-designed, and require too long a speech time. The latter slides, in English, focus on the sole technical aspect of the article, and contain as comments the text prepared for my talk, that perfectly fit the twenty five minutes alloted to me.


I wish to thank my proof-readers, who allowed me to eradicate the too many mistakes (considering speling, and grammars, and style) that made the original article even less readable than it still is. I am the only culprit for all the mistakes that I have added since proof-reading, as well as for any lack in my exposition and its too little argumentation. I am also to blame for any and all mistakes in the translation into english. Thanks to my mother, to Nat Makarevitch, and to my co-workers, among whom I particularly wish to thank my boss, Jean-Bernard Stefani, for his insight, as well as François Horn, for his talent at maieutics.

BibTeX entries

	Author={Fran{ç}ois-Ren{é} Rideau},
	Title={Métaprogrammation et libre disponibilité des sources},
	BookTitle={Actes de la conférence {«Autour du Libre 1999»}},
	Institution={ENST Bretagne},
	Author={Fran{ç}ois-Ren{é} Rideau},
	Title={Metaprogramming and Free Availability of Sources},
	Note={Translated from the french article
		{``Métaprogrammation et libre disponibilité des sources''}
		published in conference
		{``Autour du Libre 1999''}.

The Article

The Article is freely available in English, under the following formats:

The compression tool used, bzip2, is also freely available (of course).