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About this book

This manual is part of the ECL software system. It documents deviations of ECL from various standards ([see ANSI], [see AMOP],...), extensions, daily working process (compiling files, loading sources, creating programs, etc) and the internals of this implementation.

It is not intended as a source to learn Common Lisp. There are other tutorials and textbooks available in the Net which serve this purpose. The homepage of the contains a good list of links of such teaching and learning material.

This book is structure into four parts:

User’s guide

We begin with [User's guide] which provides introductory material showing the user how to build and use ECL and some of its unique features. This part assumes some basic Common Lisp knowledge and is suggested as an entry point for a new users who want to start using Embeddable Common Lisp.

Developer’s guide

[Developer's guide] documents Embeddable Common Lisp implementation details. This part is not meant for normal users but rather for the ECL developers and other people who want to contribute to Embeddable Common Lisp. This section is prone to change due to the dynamic nature of a software. Covered topics include source code structure, contributing guide, internal implementation details and many other topics relevant to the development process.


[Standards] documents all parts of the standard which are left as implementation specific or to which ECL doesn’t adhere. For instance, precision of floating point numbers, available character sets, actual input/output protocols, etc.

Section covers also C Reference as a description of ANSI Common-Lisp from the C/C++ programmer perspective and ANSI Dictionary for Common-Lisp constructs available from C/C++.


[Extensions] introduces all features which are specific to ECL and which lay outside the standard. This includes configuring, building and installing ECL multiprocessing capabilities, graphics libraries, interfacing with the operating system, etc.

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