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Reifying the Reflectogram Towards Explicit Control for Implicit Reflection

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journal contribution
modified on 2015-05-08, 12:34

Reflective facilities in OO languages are used both for implementing language extensions (such as AOP frameworks) and for supporting new programming tools and methodologies (such as object-centric debugging and message-based profiling). Yet controlling the run-time behavior of these reflective facilities introduces several challenges, such as computational overhead, the possibility of meta-recursion and an unclean separation of concerns between base and meta-level. In this paper we present five dimensions of meta-level control from related literature that try to remedy these problems. These dimensions are namely: temporal and spatial control, placement control, level control and identity control. We argue that the reification of the descriptive notion of the reflectogram, can unify the control of meta-level execution in all these five dimensions. We present a model for the reification of the reflectogram and validate our approach through a prototype implementation in the Pharo programming environment. Finally we detail a case-study on run-time tracing illustrating our approach.