In the last few days I have taken on the challenge of learning Python and Common Lisp at the same time. My experiences in programming have been little, only writing some small programs in Assembly or Forth here and there, so this has been a big jump for me.
I’m learning Python because my friend and I wanted to write a scratchpad bot for our discord server - a bot that will grab the last message (or however many messages you specify) and put that message in a JSON file for you to reference later. in UTW, we share ideas, commands, programming techniques and more, so this is a very helpful tool. I’ll get a post up about him and the things I learned while designing him soon.
As for Common Lisp, I love lisp. It’s much less choppy than Python feels, and very intuitive to me. It’s similar to forth, in a way, but obviously more documented and widely used.
Documentation of things I have learned about Lisp:
Parentheses. Everywhere. It’s beautiful.
values() returns multiple values, not a list of values. It’ll return the actual values and won’t break your code if not all of them are used!
&optional is a keyword you can put into the arguments part of a function to tell the function that these arguments are optional. If no value is provided, you can set the argument to a default value:
(defun foo ($optional (bar "Hello World")) (print bar))
This creates a function
foo that’ll take an optional argument
bar. If you pass
bar to the function, bar will become that value. If nothing is passed to
bar will print “Hello World”.
clear-input, as I understand it, cleans away any stray or unprocessed input, making sure it’s all inputted, before it starts executing the next code.
finish-output makes sure everything successfully printed to the output-stream and returned.
write-string is the same as
write-line, except for
write-line adds a newline before it prints.
parse-integer will take input and evaluate it as an integer, then return the value. Or throw an error if the input isn’t an integer.
I also learned about
asdf systems, which are super useful! ASDF stands for Another System Definition Facility. It is for programmers and hackers to build and load software in Common Lisp. So all of your files that depend on each other (in a project, for example), you can load them in specific order dependencies based on a
project-name.asd file and load it into SBCL to test and run things, working similar to how you would load a required package with quicklisp.
And with that, I can sort of announce the Lisp project I’m working on! It’s called Newton, which I started to help teach me lisp. Newton is a Physics calculator, dictionary, concept-teacher, reference, you name it. Like a mini teach-yourself-phyics program! It’s been lots of fun so far, you can see my ASDF System file for Newton here:
The actual code is far from complete, I’m still extensively experimenting with the little bits of lisp that I know.
Until next time!