What I'm up to lately

Long time no update.

For the last few months I've become rather silent not only on the planet.lisp blogosphere but pretty much on the whole Common Lisp open source world. The reason for that is that since the beginning of the year I've become proud part of a hot telecom startup. Right after having had a big rush to finish my bachelor thesis in one go.

I've spent the last three months hacking in Malaysia, mostly in Kuala Lumpur, though sugared with occasional visits to tropical islands to keep sanity above a reasonable threshold. I now just arrived on the West coast of Sweden (reasonably close by to Gothenborg) where we're going to spend the next month at as we're told August to be lovely around there.

You bet what we're hacking in. Yes, that's right, we're doing funky TCP/IP related optimization and analysis in that dead, slow language. And I can tell you it's marvellous! It's a whole different experience if you can just make use of the language without being constrained like you usually are when developing open source libraries. We don't have to try to keep the number of dependencies small. We don't have to care about package name collisions. For example, we have a package named FMT containing functions to be used in format strings via ~/FMT:FOO/. Common Lisp is definitively a very nice language for actual product development. And it shows that is has been used for that while it was designed.

Of course, there's more that makes my time so incredibly marvellous: having pleasure to work with bright and, I think, famous guys, like that pseudo-german hacker poster boy Luke Gorrie, the omniscient Stelian Ionescu, homeless dude Ties Stuij of stix.to fame, the Erlang celebrity Sean Hinde, business genius Jane Walerud, and That Clever Statistics Guy. Also seeing different parts of the world, meeting kind people of different cultures, and developing sellable products and thus having customers to care about.


Lots of it!


Slime tidbits (2010-03-06): Slime & ECL

Together with Juan Jose Garcia-Ripoll, I worked on improving the integration of ECL into Slime.

He did a tremendous job on the ECL side adding all the stuff that's needed for a well-working swank backend, so if you're going to try out ECL with Slime, and are pleasantly surprised, please direct most of the gratitude towards him.

I threw out backwards compatibility, and you really have to get the 10.3.1 release otherwise the CVS of Slime will refuse to compile. There's no point in artificially maintaining backwards compatibility for something which barely worked.

Most noteworthy is the fact that you can now M-. all the way down, that is not just into the Lisp source base of ECL, but also into the C source base. And because it's based on TAGS file, M-. (and M-*) will continue to work once in a .c file. For illustration, I created an animated screenshot. (Blogspot seems to convert uploaded images into the PNG format which is the reason that I have to externally link to animated gifs rather than include them into by blog posting proper.)

There's of course still stuff to do:
  • storing arglist information for user-written functions
  • storing source-location information for each method of a gf
  • introspection into C objects
Especially the last thing would be rather cool. And while I think the first two items are on Juanjo's agenda, the last item needs some brave hero looking for fame and glory. In case you want to volunteer, drop a mail to the ECL mailing list!


Slime tidbits (2010-03-05)

In December 2009, Stas Boukarev and myself added some really cool stuff to the slime-asdf contrib, and while I've always wanted to blog about it, I just haven't come around doing so.
  • M-x slime-load-system (,load-system): Compile and load an ASDF system; that command currently hooks into the Slime compilation-notes machinery, so compilation notes, warnings, etc. will be collected and will end up in the *SLIME Compilation* buffer. This command has always been there, I just mention it for sake of completeness.
  • M-x slime-open-system (,open-system): Open all the files specified in the system.
  • M-x slime-isearch-system and M-x slime-rgrep-system: Run the command isearch and rgrep respectively on all the files specified in a system. That is particularly useful if slime-edit-definitions (M-.) and slime-edit-uses (M-?) won't do.

    In case of slime-rgrep-system, the commands next-error and previous-error will jump through the matches in the *grep* buffer. I bound those commands to F11 and F12, though by default they're also bound to M-g p and M-g n (also C-x `).
  • M-x slime-query-replace-system: Poor man's refactoring tool; run query-replace on all the specified files in a system. See this animated screenshot for an exemplary run. (Animated gif was generated on behalf of Zach Beane's Skippy library!)
  • M-x slime-query-replace-system-and-dependents: Like the former function, but also run query-replace on all the files of all systems depending on the user-queried system.
The latter two functions are really useful if you're past the initial state of something -- your system already grew to multiple files -- but still away from finishing and so you often want to rename identifier and slightly change APIs.