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For the past several years, I have been researching new languages to support safe and efficient network protocol processing, specifically for software-defined networking applications. The unfortunate outcome of that research is this conclusion: any language for that domain must also be a general purpose programming language. This is not an easy thing to do. Many of the language features I worked with simply generated expressions to compute packet and header lengths, read and write packet fields, and encode and decode entire packets. If we could do this in C++, I might not need an entirely new language. Over the past year, Herb Sutter and I have collaborated to work on language support for compile-time programming, static reflection, metaclasses, and code generation in the C++ programming language. These facilities completely eliminate the need for the external tools, metacompilers, and domain-specific languages on which we frequently rely to generate high-performance encoders and decoders in C++. In this talk, I will discuss how to use these evolving proposals to create facilities for encoding and decoding packets. In particular, I will discuss the background requirements of my work, the overall design of a network protocol library, and the reflection and generation facilities that implement the library.



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