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What is ECL

Common-Lisp is a general purpose programming language. It lays its roots in the LISP programming language [see LISP1.5] developed by John McCarthy in the 80s. Common-Lisp as we know it ANSI Common-Lisp is the result of an standardization process aimed at unifying the multiple lisp dialects that were born from that language.

Embeddable Common Lisp is an implementation of the Common-Lisp language. As such it derives from the implementation of the same name developed by Giuseppe Attardi, which itself was built using code from the Kyoto Common-Lisp [see Yasa:85]. History for the history of the code you are about to use.

Embeddable Common Lisp (ECL for short) uses standard C calling conventions for Lisp compiled functions, which allows C programs to easily call Lisp functions and vice versa. No foreign function interface is required: data can be exchanged between C and Lisp with no need for conversion.

ECL is based on a Common Runtime Support (CRS) which provides basic facilities for memory management, dynamic loading and dumping of binary images, support for multiple threads of execution. The CRS is built into a library that can be linked with the code of the application. ECL is modular: main modules are the program development tools (top level, debugger, trace, stepper), the compiler, and CLOS. A native implementation of CLOS is available in ECL. A runtime version of ECL can be built with just the modules which are required by the application.

The ECL compiler compiles from Lisp to C, and then invokes the C compiler to produce binaries. Additionally portable bytecode compiler is provided for machines which doesn’t have C compiler. While former releases of ECL adhere to the the reference of the language given in Common-Lisp: The Language II [see Steele90], the ECL is now compliant with X3J13 ANSI Common Lisp [see ANSI].

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