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design/proof-of-concept for a package-local nicknames extension for sbcl (and hopefully other CLs)

branch: master

Package Local Nicknames

still in the design stage, you probably don't want to use the code...

(it sort of works on sbcl, but is nowhere near complete, expect it to break things unpredictably)


cl-opengl wants the nickname "GL". CLX/GLX wants the nickname "GL". A hypothetical Parenscript/WebGL wants the nickname "GL". It is reasonable to want to load more than one of these libraries at once, and to want to use the nickname GL: for more than one of them from different code, without having to remember to RENAME-PACKAGE a bunch of packages before loading new code (particularly when doing interactive development on more than one of them at once). Specifying nicknames with the creating package leads to conflict like these, particularly since there may be multiple 'obvious' nicknames to define, even if nobody ends up using more than one of them for a given package.

See also JSON libraries and the JSON: nickname, particularly since they are likely to be indirect dependencies of libraries which could be useful together, for example a NoSQL lib and a json-rpc lib.

If users can easily add nicknames scoped to a specific package, library authors might be more willing to drop the convenient-but-conflicting global nicknames.

differences from other options:

  • cl-package-aliases
    in package-local-nicknames, local nicknames shadow the global namespace which makes conflicts much less likely, but adds some edge cases (print/read consistency for example) which need thought about and worked out

  • allegro hierarchical packages
    If I understand them correctly, hierarchical packages are targeted more at use within a group of related packages, while package-local-nicknames is targeted at making it easier to use third-party libraries, and to reducing nickname conflicts between those libraries.

  • conduits
    seems more oriented towards fine-grained package manipulation, and packages intended to be :used (and another example of the problem of specifying nicknames with the creating package, since it looks like it has a nickname conflict with common-lisp-controller)

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