Книга: Practical Common Lisp

Choosing a Lisp Implementation

Choosing a Lisp Implementation

The first thing you have to do is to choose a Lisp implementation. This may seem like a strange thing to have to do for folks used to languages such as Perl, Python, Visual Basic (VB), C#, and Java. The difference between Common Lisp and these languages is that Common Lisp is defined by its standard—there is neither a single implementation controlled by a benevolent dictator, as with Perl and Python, nor a canonical implementation controlled by a single company, as with VB, C#, and Java. Anyone who wants to read the standard and implement the language is free to do so. Furthermore, changes to the standard have to be made in accordance with a process controlled by the standards body American National Standards Institute (ANSI). That process is designed to keep any one entity, such as a single vendor, from being able to arbitrarily change the standard.[12] Thus, the Common Lisp standard is a contract between any Common Lisp vendor and Common Lisp programmers. The contract tells you that if you write a program that uses the features of the language the way they're described in the standard, you can count on your program behaving the same in any conforming implementation.

On the other hand, the standard may not cover everything you may want to do in your programs—some things were intentionally left unspecified in order to allow continuing experimentation by implementers in areas where there wasn't consensus about the best way for the language to support certain features. So every implementation offers some features above and beyond what's specified in the standard. Depending on what kind of programming you're going to be doing, it may make sense to just pick one implementation that has the extra features you need and use that. On the other hand, if we're delivering Lisp source to be used by others, such as libraries, you'll want—as far as possible—to write portable Common Lisp. For writing code that should be mostly portable but that needs facilities not defined by the standard, Common Lisp provides a flexible way to write code "conditionalized" on the features available in a particular implementation. You'll see an example of this kind of code in Chapter 15 when we develop a simple library that smoothes over some differences between how different Lisp implementations deal with filenames.

For the moment, however, the most important characteristic of an implementation is whether it runs on our favorite operating system. The folks at Franz, makers of Allegro Common Lisp, are making available a trial version of their product for use with this book that runs on Linux, Windows, and OS X. Folks looking for an open-source implementation have several options. SBCL[13] is a high-quality open-source implementation that compiles to native code and runs on a wide variety of Unixes, including Linux and OS X. SBCL is derived from CMUCL,[14] which is a Common Lisp developed at Carnegie Mellon University, and, like CMUCL, is largely in the public domain, except a few sections licensed under Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) style licenses. CMUCL itself is another fine choice, though SBCL tends to be easier to install and now supports 21-bit Unicode.[15] For OS X users, OpenMCL is an excellent choice—it compiles to machine code, supports threads, and has quite good integration with OS X's Carbon and Cocoa toolkits. Other open-source and commercial implementations are available. See Chapter 32 for resources from which you can get more information.

All the Lisp code in this book should work in any conforming Common Lisp implementation unless otherwise noted, and SLIME will smooth out some of the differences between implementations by providing us with a common interface for interacting with Lisp. The output shown in this book is from Allegro running on GNU/Linux; in some cases, other Lisp's may generate slightly different error messages or debugger output.

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