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SML On Stilts

Stilts is a framework for robust web development based on multistage programming. Rather than performing extensive introspection and processing at runtime, Stilts compiles portions of the application together in multiple passes to ensure strict correctness between components. For example, templates are never parsed on the fly; instead, they are pre-serialized as much as possible into code. Type-checking all invocations of the template ensures that the application always passes templates the parameters they expect. Similarly, SQL statements are wrapped together with their input and output types, and escaping code inserted automatically.

The framework is written in Standard ML. Both SML/NJ and MLton are supported, with parallel CM and ML Basis build systems.


  • Core Web application types, signatures, and utility functions.
  • A high-performance userspace threading system.
  • Server implementations of FastCGI, SCGI, and HTTP, allowing Stilts applications to be invoked from a variety of front-end Web servers or as a standalone daemon.
  • Smelt, an HTML / XML templating system.
  • Squall, a SQL query wrapper function generator.
  • Infrastructure for interfacing with MySQL and SQLite.
  • A simple Wiki, as a demo application.

See each component's README file for more documentation.


Some notes:

  • On debian, you will need to install the following packages in addition to smlnj: libckit-smlnj libmlnlffi-smlnj ml-nlffigen ml-lex ml-yacc ml-lpt

  • ml-yacc may fail like so:

      Usage: ml-yacc filename
      ../db/squall/ Error: tool "ML-Yacc" failed: "/usr/lib/smlnj/bin/ml-yacc" "" "input.grm"

    Run ml-yacc filename by hand. (Argh, SML/NJ.)