Child pages
  • Getting Started with ANTLR v4
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata


Hi and welcome to the version 4 release of ANTLR! It's named after the fearless hero of the Crazy Nasty-Ass Honey Badger since ANTLR v4 takes whatever you give it--it just doesn't give a crap! See Why do we need ANTLR v4? and the preface of the ANTLR v4 book.


ANTLR is really two things: a tool that translates your grammar to a parser/lexer in Java (or other target language) and the runtime needed by the generated parsers/lexers. Even if you are using the ANTLR Intellij plug-in or ANTLRWorks to run the ANTLR tool, the generated code will still need the runtime library. 

The first thing you should do is probably download and install a development tool plug-in. Even if you only use such tools for editing, they are great. Then, follow the instructions below to get the runtime environment available to your system to run generated parsers/lexers.  In what follows, I talk about antlr-4.5-complete.jar, which has the tool and the runtime and any other support libraries (e.g., ANTLR v4 is written in v3).

If you are going to integrate ANTLR into your existing build system using mvn, ant, or want to get ANTLR into your IDE such as eclipse or intellij, see Integrating ANTLR into Development Systems.


0. Install Java (version 1.6 or higher)

1. Download

Or just download in browser from website:

and put it somewhere rational like /usr/local/lib.

2. Add antlr-4.5-complete.jar to your CLASSPATH:

It's also a good idea to put this in your .bash_profile or whatever your startup script is.

3. Create aliases for the ANTLR Tool, and TestRig.


(Thanks to Graham Wideman)

0. Install Java (version 1.6 or higher)

1. Download
Save to your directory for 3rd party Java libraries, say C:\Javalib

2. Add antlr-4.5-complete.jar to CLASSPATH, either:

  • Permanently: Using System Properties dialog > Environment variables > Create or append to CLASSPATH variable
  • Temporarily, at command line:

3. Create short convenient commands for the ANTLR Tool, and TestRig, using batch files or doskey commands:

Batch files (in directory in system PATH)


Or, use doskey commands:

Testing the installation

Either launch org.antlr.v4.Tool directly:

or use -jar option on java:

A First Example

In a temporary directory, put the following grammar inside file Hello.g4:


Then run ANTLR the tool on it:

Now test it:

(That ^D means EOF on unix; it's ^Z in Windows.) The -tree option prints the parse tree in LISP notation.

It's nicer to look at parse trees visually.

That pops up a dialog box showing that rule r matched keyword hello followed by identifier parrt.

Book source code

The book has lots and lots of examples that should be useful to. You can download them here for free:

Also, there is a collection of grammars for v4 at github:

  • No labels