September 23, 2002
Lisp Eclipse

Mike Hannemann is working on a special purpose Lisp plugin for Eclipse.

Lisp plugin for Eclipse Lisp plugin for Eclipse

Mike says

For Java, eclipse just rules. It took me 10 minutes of using emacs on the mac to miss it. Compiling files when you save them (so you don't have to use batch files or recompile everything), context awareness, little lightbulbs when you declare imports but don't use them, ability to quick-fix everything from used-but-not imported code to adding things to .cvsignore ... It's just nice.

For lisp here, it's unclear. But the next big thing on the agenda is a display of the current CERA event recognizer state -- i.e., what patterns are active, and where they are. Yes, you could add that to Emacs too, with graphics and mouse events and everything, but...

An editor with a nice extendable GUI is a powerful thing.

Posted by jjwiseman at September 23, 2002 10:38 AM

Did I mention that Eclipse just rules? CVS integration. Javadoc context support. Refactoring. All the customizable highlighting & tab settings you could want. The ability to associate source files with java classes, so you can say "what does this really do?" on a piece of arbitrary java code, and it can open up the java.util.Vector source for you. The ability to evaluate snippets of code without building an entire framework and running a program to test something. A Lisp-style Java object inspector. An outline view of code blocks (because it's Java-structure aware). Dependency tracking and automatic classpath fixing. Javadoc comment generation.

It does everything but warn you that you're writing in sentence fragments. And I bet I could add a plug-in for that...

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on September 25, 2002 10:45 AM

I tried Eclipse (for Java), but I couldn't figure out a way to get it to auto-format code without reformatting the entire file. That's enough to make me unwilling to use it. Can this be done, without writing a plug-in? The features look pretty interesting, but if it can't compete with Emacs in the convenience of editing arena, the cost is too high.

Posted by: Patrik Nordebo on September 27, 2002 05:19 AM

Did you try selecting the region you want to format, right-clicking, and choosing "Format" from the context menu?

I didn't actually know that was there until I went looking for it, but it seems to work for me. The only caveat is that all indentation is relative to the previous spot. If you select a range, tab three times to indent the block so that it's sitting in the middle of your editor window, and format it, nothing will happen. If you select your indented text and include a bit of text above which is supposed to be at the same indentation level, then it'll move your code back so it's all nicely aligned.

(If that's not what you meant by autoformat, let me know.)

If you're judging it, make sure you're using the latest main release, currently 2.0.1. There are small but important increases in usability even over 2.0.

For myself, I can't go back to writing Java in an editor which can't peer into the classes for me. It's not worth it.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on September 27, 2002 08:16 AM

So where (or when) is the lisp plugin available? I'm a pretty big fan of emacs but I've been spending some time in IntelliJ's IDEA[1]. Alas, IDEA is a commercial product and only does Java. Eclipse, on the other hand, isn't and does more; quite attractive. Thanks.


Posted by: gavin on September 27, 2002 08:43 AM

I'm going to study common lisp and since I'm using eclipse to develop java project I'd like to try your plugin so that I don't have to use another ide. Where can I find it?

Posted by: Giannandrea on February 19, 2003 04:38 AM

Amazingly enough, you're the second person to ask about this in as many days. The short story is that the project we built this for is complete, and I'm in a position to strip out the project-specific bits and open-source the rest. I'll post here (and send mail) when this is done.

For someone new to lisp, I think I'd say that this is _not_ an excellent IDE, merely a sufficiently functional one. Our use in doing it was to write other Eclipse modules which were specific to the Lisp program running on the other side, so we could graph data, examine work-flow, and more -- things that I still believe would have been more difficult to do in (X)Emacs (though easier in one of the CLIM environments). Without those, you still have CVS integration, project management, and all that, but for myself, I prefer the Emacs-y route.

(Of course, by open-sourcing it, that means someone else could improve upon the Lisp experience if they felt the need.)

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on February 19, 2003 08:47 AM

where is the url for downloading the plugin lisp for eclipse please !!

Posted by: bob on March 26, 2003 03:23 PM

I think it's clear there is a CLAMOR for lisp inside eclipse.
Let me add myself to the crowd!
WHen is it going to be available?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Claudio Peredo on June 5, 2003 08:42 PM

I've just switched to Eclipse 2.1 for Java development. I love the integration of CVS and JUnit. ALso using the Omondo UML plug-in and a profiler that does most things JProbe does, for free. Strangely, I was just wishing there was a Lisp plug-in when I spotted this post...

Posted by: Pete Ward on June 13, 2003 12:30 AM

Yowza! Okay, okay. I've got some free time now; I'll sourceforge this as soon as possible.


Posted by: Michael Hannemann on June 13, 2003 09:56 AM

Add me also to the list of interested people :)

Posted by: Christian Schuhegger on August 13, 2003 02:45 AM

I also would really like to use the Lisp plugin for eclipse!!

I couldn't find in on sourceforge as of 9/4/03.

clamor clamor clamor

Posted by: Jason Addison on September 4, 2003 02:42 PM

Has this code been made available?

Posted by: Alan Oursland on September 11, 2003 03:05 PM

Any update on when the plugin will be availble? I would be happy to test it...

Posted by: Mike Kilgore on October 10, 2003 01:10 PM

Clamour clamour! I want it too!

Posted by: Patrick Collison on October 19, 2003 06:34 AM

I like to add myself to the ever increasing crowd interested in using the lisp plugin

Posted by: Tom Lenaerts on October 22, 2003 03:32 AM


I apologize for not releasing this earlier this year; Eclipse had come out with a new version of the editor, and I wanted to make sure the undocumented API calls I'd used for a few things still worked. This still needs to be done, of course.

Now, I'm mostly of the opinion that no one really wants this, even if you think you do. What I did wasn't as featureful as (portable-) eli, Ilisp, Hemlock, Lispwork's IDE, SLIME, MCL, etc.; the only reason for doing it at all was that we could then add Java-based visualization and logging tools. As Lisp IDEs go, I definitely perfer Emacs. =) But, I'll try to package it all up so you can see this for yourselves.


Posted by: Michael Hannemann on October 22, 2003 10:09 AM

Let me add another vote for this :)

"I'm mostly of the opinion that no one really wants this, even if you think you do."

I think we do want it - I work in a research group and our codebase is a grand mixture of Java and Lisp with everything stored in CVS.

So it would be great if we could work on Java files and Lisp files within the same IDE and also take advantage of Eclipse's great (IMHO) CVS integration...

Even just being able to match parens within the LISP files would be a huge help to us :)

Posted by: Joe E. on November 13, 2003 12:15 PM

I want it. If you don't do it, I'll do it.

I'm a professional Java developer, currently using the Eclipse platform (if you can call it that at 2.1), implementing plug-ins. I also want to learn LISP. I'm too lazy to go back to Emacs (and haven't you heard, Eclipse is the Java version of Emacs :-).

Posted by: Nicolai Czempin on November 27, 2003 07:22 AM

I have hacked together a little Lisp editor for Eclipse over the weekend. All it does right now is rudimentary syntax colouring. I'll post it on my website soon.

I'll work on bracket matching next.

Posted by: Nicolai Czempin on December 2, 2003 07:27 AM

Okay, I've uploaded it to my blog at

Have fun with it!

Posted by: Nicolai Czempin on December 2, 2003 08:22 AM

The reasons it hasn't been forthcoming are a) I've been busy, b) some of the API calls I was using weren't public, so I wanted to correct them in case they didn't work with v3, and c) I wanted to strip out some of the bits that were project-specific here before releasing it into the wild.

a) is still a lame but good reason, I think. I'm not sure that b) and c) are necessary, though. If you're serious about wanting it, and wanting to work on it, I think I can package up something to send you.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on December 2, 2003 01:28 PM

Alternately, if you don't want to piece together my Eclipse plugin after I tear various bits out of it, I can just send you things like the bracket matching code I wrote/used/stole.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on December 2, 2003 01:57 PM

Hi Mike,

I hope you didn't take my comment as criticism. I know very well the situation you're in, and it isn't any easier when you have to strip in the bits that the public isn't meant to see (it's nice enough of your employer to let you open-source the Lisp-part).

For the moment I happen to have some spare time and motivation to get the Lisp-Plugin rolling. Any code snippets I can steal will be highly appreciated. I'm not sure what license I'll use; I'll make sure to think about it *before* I actually put *source* code on my site. That's mainly why I have only released the binary so far.

So do send something my way (I'll send an email to you with my address); I can even strip out the "bad bits" myself. I will definitely not use any eclipse.internal calls, so if you have a lot of those, I may throw some of your code away, but I'm sure I can use some of it.

mfg nc

Posted by: Nicolai Czempin on December 3, 2003 03:18 AM

FYI, I've been talking with Nicolai, and have happily given over the Java source for my Eclipse Lisp plugin. He's already incorporated the bracket-matching code, and I think this is great.

I told him that I could also give him my Lisp REPL code ... but that there are probably better ones out there in the community already. I didn't know of any at the time, so I wrote something which established multiple TCP connections (one for eval/response, one for control, one for my extra logging window) and did the job adequately, if not well. So, maybe someone else will be willing to proffer up code for that when the time comes.

But anyway. Go Nicolai!

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on December 5, 2003 10:24 AM

So what's the status now??? Thx...

Posted by: Sam Hahn on December 3, 2004 12:06 PM

Please, this would be awesome! When will it be available?

Posted by: on December 16, 2004 08:52 PM

Did this project die?

Posted by: adam connor on February 13, 2006 03:38 PM

Wooo! This sounds exciting.. eclipse is very nice; a lisp plugin would be cool.

Any news?


Posted by: Kel on February 20, 2006 05:58 AM

I don't really know what the latest status is; I haven't talked to Nicolai Czempin in quite some time (since there was no reason for me to after I handed the project off).

My impression from his blog, last I read it, was that he'd gotten distracted by shinier things. But anyone interested should find him and write to ask. Maybe he'll pass the torch once again.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on February 20, 2006 03:26 PM


I haven't updated the plug-in since way back in 2004. Interest always seemed to be marginal. I have received one e-mail over the years.

Eclipse seems to be picking up in popularity; apparently RCP development is starting to come under the Radar of prospective clients of mine; continuing work on the plug-in is always under consideration for me.

However, if anyone were to ask me if he could wake up the project from hiatus, I wouldn't mind; the source is available and no-one's stopping you from taking over.

I will eventually pick up work on it again, I just can't say when. I was actually very close in my last project which involved Eclipse RCP coaching with marginal relations to the AutoCAD environment (which uses Lisp), but sadly it didn't materialize.

So unless I get more chances to work on this in the context of an actual project, you'll have to keep in mind that this is only a part-time hobby for me.

Posted by: Nicolai Czempin on August 31, 2006 01:16 PM

I too would like to have a LISP plugin for Eclipse. Thanks.
(Anyway, visitng your blog, to see what I can get ;-))

Posted by: Andreas M. on September 5, 2006 08:27 AM

I can't stand Emacs and would be interested in working on the Eclipse plugin. Where's the source?

Posted by: Mark on September 23, 2006 02:09 AM

I have been looking for a lisp plugin for eclipse for the longest time, and I always end up in your website, yet since I see that it has been dead for a while I never leave messages, as I imagene many others do, (you are still the number one search for lisp eclipse) so if you need to feel interest to get back on track mention it in the top and I am sure you will get alot of messages from more people

Posted by: Federico on March 13, 2007 01:45 PM

Any news?

Posted by: Dirk on June 13, 2007 06:49 AM

Our Friend Google, and the ALU Wiki, give these two new Eclipse-based Lisp editors:



Here's the ALU page on environments for people who are new to Lisp, with a tendency to avoid Emacs:

Posted by: Michael H. on June 19, 2007 01:50 PM

We've just started to try to use "cusp", but have run into a severe problem: it does not understand the #+ read macro. Our code has read-time conditionaliztions on various things, particularly on the Lisp dialect, so we need this to work.

Also, it would be nice if "cusp" were not specific to SBCL. It would particularly be nice if it worked with Clozure Common Lisp, previously known as OpenMCL. Swank already works with this and many other implementations, so I'd think that the hard part is already done.

For a survey of existing implementations, see my paper at

Posted by: Daniel Weinreb on January 7, 2008 08:35 AM
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