picoLisp - Arc before Arc

Arc has generated an amount of web buzzing way out of proportions to what it has to offer (a small lisp core implemented as an interpreter in MzScheme). At this point it has almost nothing interesting that hasn't been done elsewhere and by any reasonable standards it's just a toy for exploring ideas and not a language implementation that can be used for writing software.

I think it illustrates some basic truth (or maybe just a fact) about advertising, human nature, lack of fairness except I'm no-where near being able to state coherently what that basic truth is.

I can, however, point to a picoLisp - an Arc-like lisp implementation that has been around for many years (picoLisp 2.0 was released in December 2002 while Arc was announced in November 2001).

Well, if justice was to be served, Arc should be called picoLisp-like lisp implementation because picoLisp was a working implementation before Arc was even announced. But Arc seems to occupy the "succinct lisp" niche in minds of people so let's just go with the flow.

picoLisp already implements many things that Paul Graham was thinking about and what is most important is that it exists, is mature and can be used for writing real software, today.

A few nice things about picoLisp:
  • it's tiny
  • it's very succinct
  • built-in support for web applications
  • integrated object-oriented database, with direct bindings between (web) UI widgets and database objects
  • actively maintained and improved (around 4 new releases per year, latest release is from Dec 30 2007)
  • mostly cross-platform (Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, Cygwin on Windows). Unfortunately it doesn't have native Windows version.
  • open-source (GPL)

The only thing it lacks is a huge fan base willing to wax poetic about how great it is. This is where you can help and show the world that we don't need Arc because we already have picoLisp.