For a while, I’d been working on cloning twitter in Lisp, since I’d been playing with Lisp web frameworks (weblocks, hunchentoot, caveman, clack) for a while. Now that I know so much more about web development, it seemed like a perfect chance. Also, with hunchensocket around, I could do push notifications with websockets, too, which Rails can’t without third party services.
I have a site up now, at Chirp, after many hours of beating my head against the wall. I thought I’d write down some major points for others who try to sort the madness out.
- Your app will be compiled, don’t expect it to behave like you’re running it from the REPL.
I had my configuration defined using envy’s
(defconfig)in the top level of a file. That meant that all of the configurations were defined at compile time, when the environment variables I was using weren’t defined. So, I had a few nil’s in my configurations.
Now, I wrap the
(defconfig)‘s in a function call when the app starts up. Works like a charm.
- You don’t own the database, you just get to use it.
CLSQL doesn’t have permission do do a number of things you might have been doing on your own database server. I had a helper function that made the database and tables if they didn’t exist. I got a lot of complaining about “template1,” which seems to be some internal postgres thing that administrators get access to. Don’t use
(clsql:create-database), they both try to do things they’re not allowed to.
- Getting environment variables is a necessary evil.
Environment variables are not a first-class part of the lisp world, but they’re not too hard to get to. Heroku uses a lot of them to show you your configuration, pay special attention to
You can get at these two ways.
ASDFhas a private
(getenv)function, which is handy and generally available. If you’re using SBCL, you can also
(require 'sb-posix)and use
(sb-posix:getenv). It has a sibling,
(sb-posix:setenv), should you need it.
Hopefully, we’ll make a better, more user-friendly buildpack, soon.