"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

Practical Common Lisp

I am reposting this from February 24, 2005 - given my renewed interest in Common Lisp. It has been 22 years since programming in CL professionally. I have brought up a CL implementation several times in between, but never to do much of anything real. Most of my Lisping over these years has been in various Scheme dialects.

I love Scheme and some great Scheme implementations like Gambit. I may not have given up on Scheme forever, but... After all these years the Scheme standard is a kernel and there's not much in the way of a portable registry of libraries.

There are several commercial and free Common Lisp implementations of very good quality. And an apparently long list of portable libraries. I've only recently tried Steel Bank Common Lisp (derived from CMU CL, which was first implemented in the early 1980s), but my impression is that any of these high-quality CL implementations is as good a choice as ever. Nothing like Java's base of software, but rich enough to keep exploring nevertheless.

What about Clojure? I've used Clojure a bit over the last couple of years. Clojure is great, and has access to Java's libraries. However I recently gave up the JVM for Lent. Really I'm just stepping away from the Java platform to see what other things can do. For exploring and fun I felt the need to step away at least temporarily from all the Java-based bits and pieces. I am not really missing anything so far.

I am happy to move around. There are a lot of good options in the wide web world. One dream not quite yet fulfilled is a world where all these languages can get along with extreme ease. (And by that I do *not* mean "running in the same virtual machine".) They can each get along fairly well with Javascript, running on a server and talking over HTTP. They can get along with each other modestly using JSON or XML, one as the HTTP client, another as the HTTP server. Better than ever, but the difficulties mount rapidly beyond this simple case.

Oh yeah, I digress. Here's that repost from 2005:

As seen on Lemonodor...

The book Practical Common Lisp shows the power of Lisp not only in the areas that it has traditionally been noted for—such as developing a complete unit test framework in only 26 lines of code but also in new areas such as parsing binary MP3 files, building a Web application for browsing a collection of songs, and streaming audio over the Web. Many readers will be surprised that Lisp allows you to do all this with conciseness similar to scripting languages such as Python, efficiency similar to C++, and unparalleled flexibility in designing your own language extensions.

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About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.