This is the open-source source release of Corman Lisp. The canonical home of this release is https://github.com/sharplispers/cormanlisp.
From the Corman Lisp 'Features' page:
Corman Lisp is a Common Lisp development environment for Microsoft Windows operating systems running on Intel platforms. Corman Lisp consists of a Common Lisp native code compiler for Intel processors, 80x86 assembler and disassembler, incremental linker and multi-window text editor. It requires a system running a Microsoft Windows operating system (such as Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME or Windows NT). It is fully integrated with the Win32 API, and all the Windows API functions are readily available from Lisp.
Corman Lisp incorporates state-of-the-art compiler technology to bring you a Common Lisp system unmatched on Windows platforms.
Source release history
In June 2013, Zach Beane contacted Roger Corman about the future of Corman Lisp. Roger replied:
Thanks for your interest in Corman Lisp. I have been unable to commit any resources to developing Corman Lisp for the last couple of years. I would be willing to convert it to open source, and let others take it over, as I don't expect to be able to get back to it any time soon. [...]
I see two primary issues at this point. First, the Corman Lisp kernel needs to be built with Visual Studio 2005, which is an old version of VS. At one point I built it with VS2008 and it built and ran, but some problem with the FFI caused applications saved, and the IDE, to have problems. This type of thing is fairly common as Microsoft makes subtle changes to the code generation of their C compiler, which in turn affects the Lisp kernel which has very tight rules about how it expects its code to look. I did a lot to reduce the kernel (move things from the kernel to Lisp code, which is then compiled safely), but did not fully resolve the VS 2008 issues. Now there is VS 2010 and 2012, and I never tried building with either of those. In general I find each newer version of VS is worse for native C/C++ debugging, as .NET has become Microsoft's primary platform for new software.
The other issue is running on 64-bit OS. Again, the FFI misbehaves when you have saved an application, or just doing a bunch of FFI stuff in an application. It is something to do with GC and the 64-bit support for running 32-bit applications (which is what CL is). It could be related to the same issue as I encountered with building under VS2008.
Tracking down this problem is difficult.
Regarding converting to a full 64-bit Lisp, this would be a much bigger effort. Corman Lisp gets such good performance by a large amount of hand-optimized x86 assembly code. This would all have to be rewritten/replaced in a 64-bit Lisp.
When Corman Lisp was first developed in the late 90s, there was really no competition on Windows platforms. Franz only had a 16-bit Lisp they were selling, and not really taking the Windows market seriously. Mac Common Lisp was on 680x0 and later PowerPC but didn't get to Windows for a very long time, and LispWorks didn't support Windows until much later. Now I think most all of those have good implementations on Windows (though only MCL is free). I have used Allegro extensively for a large contract with SRI and I see the value of a mature cross-platform system like they have. It is however extremely expensive, and developing applications for distribution requires lots of negotiation and per-license payments to Franz. Corman Lisp still has some advantages, I think--it is really a good hackers Lisp, when you want to easily get down into the assembly level, or in the guts of the compiler, to do almost anything. You have the power of Lisp to do those things with macros and a nice high-level dynamic environment.
I definitely want to see it live on, so am open to whatever enables that. I don't currently derive any significant income from it so that's not a concern for me.
In January 2015, Roger Corman agreed to release the Corman Lisp sources under the MIT license. He added:
Going forward with the code, I would probably say that the first step is getting the kernel (Corman Lisp server) to compile using a new version of MS Visual Studio (such as VS2012 or VS2013)--it was last compiled with VS2005. I tried at one point to get it to build with VS2008 (and I think the project files are still there) but ran into some bugs and didn't resolve them.
Getting the kernel to compile properly and the GC and FFI to work properly is tricky. The kernel is very sensitive to the generated code, and you pretty much have to disable all optimizations (since the GC depends on things like proper stack frames and the various code patterns when it is looking for references). The Makefiles and project files should have the settings set correctly (for VS2005) but newer compiler versions try to add new sophisticated optimizations, which then causes new issues.
Turning off optimizations shouldn't really negatively affect performance, as most of the kernel code gets replaced by compiled Lisp code during the build process. Some functions don't, however (the kernel code generator, for instance) and these are probably the source of the compiled code sensitivity.
Roger provided the source code for Corman Lisp to Zach, who updated the license information and posted the code to github.
This source release of Corman Lisp is not officially supported, commercially or otherwise. For discussion of this source release of Corman Lisp, see the unofficial Corman Lisp mailing list.
Nearly all of the code is originally by Roger Corman. There are some contributions from Vassili Bykov and Reini Urban. With their explicit consent, their code is available under the MIT license:
Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software. THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.
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