Книга: Practical Common Lisp

Free Your Mind: Interactive Programming

Free Your Mind: Interactive Programming

When you start Lisp in a Box, you should see a buffer containing a prompt that looks like this:


This is the Lisp prompt. Like a Unix or DOS shell prompt, the Lisp prompt is a place where you can type expressions that will cause things to happen. However, instead of reading and interpreting a line of shell commands, Lisp reads Lisp expressions, evaluates them according to the rules of Lisp, and prints the result. Then it does it again with the next expression you type. That endless cycle of reading, evaluating, and printing is why it's called the read-eval-print loop, or REPL for short. It's also referred to as the top-level, the top-level listener, or the Lisp listener.

From within the environment provided by the REPL, you can define and redefine program elements such as variables, functions, classes, and methods; evaluate any Lisp expression; load files containing Lisp source code or compiled code; compile whole files or individual functions; enter the debugger; step through code; and inspect the state of individual Lisp objects.

All those facilities are built into the language, accessible via functions defined in the language standard. If you had to, you could build a pretty reasonable programming environment out of just the REPL and any text editor that knows how to properly indent Lisp code. But for the true Lisp programming experience, you need an environment, such as SLIME, that lets you interact with Lisp both via the REPL and while editing source files. For instance, you don't want to have to cut and paste a function definition from a source file to the REPL or have to load a whole file just because you changed one function; your Lisp environment should let us evaluate or compile both individual expressions and whole files directly from your editor.

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