Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Getting Started with Common Lisp, part 2

The first thing that you need to do when getting started with Common Lisp is to choose a Lisp implementation. Lisp has a standard, similar to C++. Choosing a Lisp implementation is similar to choosing a C++ compiler. Like C++ compilers, conformance to the standard varies. For this post I will only discuss Free CL implementations but there are a number of commercial CL implementations. If your lucky enough to be using Linux for development, there are quite a few Free CL implementations. You have the choice of CMUCL, SBCL, CLISP, GCL, and ECL. There are probably more but those are the ones I know of. I chose SBCL because of its speed and because ASDF comes pre-installed. (ASDF is a library management system similar to CPAN.) SBCL can produce standalone executables. If you're stuck running Windows for some reason then your choices are somewhat more limited. There is CLISP, GCL and ECL. Under windows I chose CLISP because of it's standards conformance and because there are a lot of libraries that are known to work with it. It is also very cross platform. It will pretty much run under whatever OS you want. There are also a number of interop libraries for it so you can make use of windows specific features easily. CLISP uses a VM and byte code system, similar to Java, so it is not as fast as some of the other LISPs but it is faster than Java.

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