Can't buy me Lisp (not to mention love)

Can't buy me Lisp (not to mention love)

Summary: With the recent talk about Lisp, I got to thinking maybe I ought to look into how Lisp might work for some of the projects I'm involved in at BYU.  I use Scheme a lot, but I thought Lisp might have more library support for some things I care about.


With the recent talk about Lisp, I got to thinking maybe I ought to look into how Lisp might work for some of the projects I'm involved in at BYU.  I use Scheme a lot, but I thought Lisp might have more library support for some things I care about. I went to the Allego Web site and was surprised to find that you can't get a price online. So, I sent a simple note off to Allegro that read:

Can you tell me academic prices for Allegro CL v 8.0. I'm interested in the Enterprise 32 and the Pro editions for OS X.

A full day later, I got this response, or rather non-response:

  1. Can you give a brief description of your project?
  2. How did you most recently hear about Allegro CL? (Dr. Dobbs add, newsgroup, web search, etc)
  3. Will more than 1 developer use Allegro CL at any one point in time? If yes, how many?
  4. Do you need the following functionality.... ODBC (access SQL databases)? Runtime (create stand-alone images to execute outside of the LISP environment)? AllegroCache (Franz's persistent CLOS database)? Allegro ORBLink (Franz's CORBA implementation)?
  5. What is the status of the project(s) (planning / implementation )?
  6. Have you received funding for this software purchase?

No wonder no one uses Lisp! In a world where one can download complete development environments and libraries for almost any programming language you can think of, these guys are still selling it like enterprise software. And if that weren't bad enough, you have to play 20 questions with them to get a quote. No straight answers here--there appears to be a different price for every customer.

So, Allegro, if you're listening, here are my answers:

  1. No, I can't give you a brief description of the project. There isn't one. I just want to play.  That's what people do when they explore new languages.
  2. I've known about Allegro for a dozen years or more.
  3. Yes, I want lots of developers to use Allegro at the same time. Maybe an entire class of students.  I want to be able to install it on every machine I can and I don't want to mess with license servers or CRAP.
  4. I want it all, baby!
  5. There's no status because there's no project. (See 1).
  6. None of you're business, although by asking the question you lead me to believe that your software is so expensive that regular developers probably can't afford it. Would you like my SSN so you can do a credit check while you're at it?

Sheesh, nothing like making it difficult. Just give me a price, already.  Ruby's looking better all the time...

Topic: Software Development

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  • Why not just download the trial version?

    I admit, not posting prices is annoying, but I think you over-reacted.
    • Over reacting...

      Maybe. But isn't it fun?

      Seriously, the trial version isn't the latest version (which has some features I'm interested in) so it's just more of the same.
  • Practical?

    Until open source commercial power was everything. There were always good languages around like LISP, Eiffel and so on. However we ended up with Visual Basic and C++! At least things are getting more interesting and languages like Ruby are getting some traction. The lack of business sense from companies like Allegro will probably keep LISP in college courses but out of the mainstream.
  • I got a response fast

    I got a quick response. They asked me what I wanted to use it for and I told them: just learning , prototyping, no application delivery. I got a quote in a few minutes.
  • Where's the ecosystem?

    LISP was born in 1958... but where's the eco-system of tools and librariess--FOSS and commercial--that surrounds C++, Java Perl, Python, PHP and even the .NET platform? Ruby dovumentation and librares are so much easier to come by and that language was born in the mid-90s.

    Looks like LISP's fans have a lot of work to do if they want to bridge the support gap with competing languages and platforms. Until that happens, LISP will be like Latin--historically significant but otherwise dead.
  • We're on parallell paths

    I had a similar experience, sans the quote part of it. As soon as I realised that Allegro seemed to be the only IDE for Lisp out there, and that there wasn't a good trial or free version, I shied away. I've spent the last month or so reading a LOT about Lisp. I also have Scheme experience, and would love to try Lisp. But there is no way my boss is going to spend a dime on a language for me until I can show a compelling business case for it, and there is no way I can justify spending my own money on it either...

    Justin James
  • Allegro CL is good

    We used Allegro CL for several years to very successfully support some R&D activities which were later migrated to a production environment. I would recommend it.
  • Other LISP Implementations/Ruby

    Another company, Ufasoft, has a Lisp implementation:
    I have not used it but says it has an IDE. Not sure it has the specific features you are looking for.

    Another consideration is Ruby ( especially when you add the Rails Framework ( If you go this direction get the two books: Programming Ruby and Agile Web Development with Rails. Ruby with Rails is nearly as compact in expressing your problem as Lisp. As for an IDE for Ruby (and PHP, Perl, Python) there is Komodo from

    Hope this helps...
  • RE: try Steel bank Common Lisp

    Can you try Steel Bank Common Lisp (SBCL) I haven't used it but its supposed to be good enuf for professional development environments.