Can lisp be an effective commerical application delivery language?

Kelly Murray kem@Franz.COM
Sun, 11 May 1997 00:03:17 -0700

> I want to see widespread commercial apps written in Lisp.
> I want to be able to get a job writting Lisp code as easy as I can
> writing C++ or JAVA (call a headhunter, tell them you're a Lisp programmer,
> see what they say)

> This is my dream too, but I don't expect a new lisp machine to make it
> a reality.

It won't.  What will is writing useful applications and lots of
utilities that make writing the apps easier.

The web has solved the delivery problem.
If apps all run as part of a persistent web server, then effectively the web
server is the OS for those apps, and therefore an application is only
as big as its own code -- the underlying language, compiler, error handling,
dynamic memory management, object persistence, browser gui, threading,
and everything else is already there and running and shared by everthing.

The end users don't even need to spring for that, they just need to
connect to the web server to run the app.

Consider this "web shell":

 You have a persistent lisp web server running on some machine, maybe
on a unix machine, maybe the same as the one on your desk.
There is this tiny C program on your machine called "wsh"
that does a typical UNIX thing, takes a string argument on stdin,
contacts this web server, passes the string as a URL,
and then copies the results back to stdout.

% websh list-users

This tiny program just executed lisp code on the
persistent lisp web server which executed probably just as
fast or faster than doing a cat on /etc/passwd.

Lisp can now be used to write tiny shell utilities, and they can
be delivered to anyone on the network.

-Kelly Edward Murray