Just a Feeling

Tagged as LISP, Personal

Written on 2009-10-13 23:33:16

Last time I blogged, I was midway through midterms and just starting to work on some lisp projects. It's hard to imagine that was only a week ago. Since then, midterms are over, I've realized my only difficult class is Algorithm Analysis (the nature of whose difficulty I've blogged about before) and become an official Open Source contributor. Admittedly, it's on a small scale but when I was just getting interested in open source a few years ago I never would've figured this would happen so soon. It's been a great learning experience so far and incredibly fun. I still need to get started working on adding libvorbisfile bindings to Andy Hefner's Mixalot but today I'm going to try to dump some links out of my browser, get some thoughts down and do some Algo homework.

I mentioned recently that I've been wanting to write a lisp post but been unsure what to focus on. I've wanted to respond to posts made by others in various places over the last few months asking about the liveliness or validity of lisp as well as whether the language is still changing or whether the departures of prominent Common Lisp users matters (search for the second occurrence of "norvig"). Experienced lispers might just ignore that question at this point, I don't know. It does come up far too often. For my part though I want to try and address this because I know the more attention I've paid to the lisp community, the more I've seen how active, alive and, most importantly, friendly it is. It's been a little surprising in some ways compared to the false preconceptions one can get from blog and reddit chatter. Now, it may be undermanned. There's certainly more work to go around than people to do it but that's true of many places. Anyway, I simply have to get some of this out of my system. Here are a few thoughts...and links.

First of all, just this morning I poked around for libraries on concurrency and parallelism and found the following: erlisp, erlang-in-lisp (which may become active again, who knows), cl-future, csp, pcall, eager-future, cl-muproc, cl-stm, chanl, patron, philip-jose, cl-mpi, cl-cluster and, of course, the distributed schemes Termite and Gerbil. Poking around for GUI libraries I quickly found: cl-gtk2, ltk, mcclim, commonqt, celtk, cells-gtk3, cl-smoke, cello, wxCL, cells-gtk, lisp-tk, clg, and cl-ncurses. Even cl-ncurses has seen some recent activity! :)

Now I grant some of these libraries are unmaintained and others are code stubs that never quite got off the ground. But 6 of the concurrency libs were started this year and of those 6, 3 have seen code updates in the past 3 weeks. Of the GUI libs, the CommonQT and CL-GTK2 bindings have both seen commits in the last month. Sadly, the libraries are spread out all over everywhere from Cliki to Github to random repositories dotting the cyber landscape. There are many reasons the library situation isn't perfect but it isn't dead either. Just look at all the projects and work-in-progress-projects in clbuild! Moreover, there are discussions about what Lisp needs to move forward. Some of them involve CLtL3, a new standardization effort, and others involve infrastructure improvements, a central package respository for example. The talk is out there. Books are still being written, people are still working on the implementations and making releases, low level experiments are still being done even though the lisp machines are gone...well, mostly.

But mostly I just wanted to put this all out there for now. To celebrate the tremendous, if seemingly fractured, development and FUN people are having with this language. Because that's what I'm having. Fun. You want in on it? Then get ready to get your hands dirty.
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