Common Lisp: come for the elegance, stay for the power.

Common Lisp is the large programming language that results from a long-running committee process that tried to, among other things, harmonize several competing commercial Lisp implementations. Scheme, a slimmer and purer language, still has a place in my heart, but the longer I use Common Lisp the more I appreciate its alarmingly large ANSI specification. It's packed with things I actually use.

For years my love of the Lisp family of languages was a quirk good only for customizing Emacs and the source of occasional jokes from friends. But the last few years have seen a welcome growth in Lisp's popularity and the development of great libraries for things the ANSI spec doesn't cover: web programming, web clients, regular expressions, graphics, XML manhandling, text processing, etc. I'm making regular use of even an SNMP library. Code I would only have written in Python not too long ago I can now readily produce in a few lines of Lisp:

(defun apache-server-status (url)
  "construct a plist with a few stats from an Apache HTTP server"
      (ppcre:register-groups-bind (accesses traffic-volume)
          ("(?m).*<dt>Total accesses: (.*) - Total Traffic: (.*?)</dt>$"
           (drakma:http-request url))
        (list :accesses accesses :traffic-volume traffic-volume))
    (usocket:connection-refused-error () (list :error "connection refused"))))

I find myself writing Lisp libraries, now, too. Information about them will go here when they're ready, along with random writings about Lisp and programming as the mood strikes.


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Copyright (c) 2006-2017 William S. Annis