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Book review: Land of Lisp (slashdot.org)
111 points by alrex021 on Nov 5, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments



I'm probably going to buy this, but would anyone be able to explain the state of programming Lisp on Mac OS X?


The state of Lisp programming on OS X is quite good. Things I've tried:

  * Clozure MCL, excellent Mac integration no need to use Emacs
  * LispWorks, good Lisp IDE, free for personal use, no 
    need to use Emacs
  * PLT Racket, good Scheme IDE, no need to use Emacs
  * Clojure, Cake make's it a cinch, you can use TextMate
If you're going to go with Emacs, for Common Lisp, Cocoa Emacs 23 plus Slime is great, Cocoa Emacs 23 plus Quack for Scheme is great.


"no need to use Emacs" Not being able to use Emacs is a feature?


Worth telling because Emacs is a kickass IDE for Lisp and most people use it, but it's kind of scary to beginners.


On Mac there's MCLIDE: http://mclide.in-progress.com/

It's not Emacs but it speaks SWANK, so it works with a bunch of Lisps.


If you're going to go with Emacs, any of these options are suddenly much brighter ;-)


I currently write clojure on a macbook[1]. It's an ideal setup. I prefer it to my past linux setups (maybe just personal preference). The core setup is bash/emacs/slime/lein. I think it comes down to being an emacs user more so than which operating system.

In general any *nix based system with bash will always be easier to get lisps setup and running(including OSX). This is due to most lisp developers already using such setups.

In my opinion the key to successful lisp development setup is having an integrated REPL. So whatever you do try for that. It would be easy enough to create a setup on OSX that didn't have this and thus was a difficult setup on an otherwise capable OS.

Are you interested in doing GUI or native development on OSX? If so you'll likely end up using FFI of some sort. This is doable but could be hard without some exposure to C/C++/Objective C.

Also it's common practice in the community to just roll your own instead of modifying something that is only a partial fit. I think all the lisp communities have improved on this but it's still a noticeable difference. This can be frustrating if you are coming from a language where the code is more often than not already in a library or framework somewhere. You just have to find it and call it.

NOTE: Windows users can use msys/msysgit/Console to get a functional bash terminal running on windows.

[1] http://clojure.org/


Thanks for the comments. It seems like Lisp is one of those languages everyone should learn at some point, and it's likely past that time for me. I don't really have a specific idea for GUI apps, and am already heavily invested in Cocoa for those anyway, so I'd probably be looking at it to build a custom static site generator idea that's been floating around for a while.


Clozure[1], formally know as OpenMCL, is a great CL implementation for Mac and other popular platforms.

I've been running Clozure and Aquamacs[2] editor for the past two years and I can only say good things about both.

[1] http://www.clozure.com/clozurecl.html

[2] http://aquamacs.org/


Disclaimer: I'm just starting to get into Lisp, myself.

I don't think it's any better or worse than any other platform, really. Using a package manager like Homebrew[1], it's easy to get SBCL installed and running. Gambit reportedly has good support for integrating into Objective-C applications on the Scheme side. There's also Nu[2], which lets you do Cocoa programming in a Lispish language.

[1] https://github.com/mxcl/homebrew

[2] http://programming.nu/index


PG uses a mac book air: http://paul.graham.usesthis.com/

maybe we can infer that Lisp (or Arc) works well on it.


The main requirement for Arc is an older build of plt, which works wonderfully on OS X


Arc 3.1 works with the current version http://arclanguage.org/item?id=10254


Offtopic: interestingly, PG's requests in "What would be your dream setup?" were actually realized by Apple.


That is interesting. Apparently he uses vi, not emacs.


I seriously cannot wait for this book to arrive in the mail.


Same here, I've been reading the ebook version but I want a thing I can grab and take everywhere. (Reading on my phone isn't ideal). But the book is good enough that I don't mind the small screen.

The last book I spent reading entirely online was the Harry Potter Deathly Hollows leak. 700 crappy photos of pages ;p (I bought 2 copies of the book too, I don't feel I've done anything wrong).



For what it is worth I'm pretty sure Land of Lisp author Conrad Barski is an HN user as well. I think we talked at an HN meetup (but I don't know his id offhand).

If you are reading this Conrad, congrats! The book looks great and seems very well received.

I'm curious, does a "slashdotting" create a noticeable blip in traffic or book sales anymore?



Yes- The slashdot book review took my Amazon rank from ~1700 down to ~550 for a few days (which is a great rank for a niche-y programming book...)


2 copies. If we all did that think how much money JK Rowling would have. Although legally you are a pirate what you really are is a patron of the arts.


I am sure JK Rowling would still make a lot of money from American if the US had not signed a copyright reciprocity treaty with UK in the late 19th century.

I imagine that Rowling would sell her manuscript to US publishers in an auction house before putting her work on sale globally.

Who knows? She probably make a few million dollars on the low side and much more if the US publishers are real crazy about it.

Heck, this lead to a premises of my next novel(for the moment, I am writing a novel on a bunch of subversive robots). An American publisher/pirate decides to get into the mechanical computer business. He purchased an invention from a mother of an inventor and proceed to violate the inventor's patent by selling it to the average UK consumer, and then the world, ushering in the computer revolution.


I'm reading it right now, and it's definitely fun. He doesn't glamorize Common Lisp (instead pointing out some design quirks) but his enthusiasm is still totally infectious. I think the video on the book's site captures the spirit of the book wonderfully.


This book makes me wonder why all "serious" material isn't presented in such a clear and entertaining manner. Five stars.




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