February 04, 2005
ACL and LispWorks Compared

troubled harajuku teen, from flickr
troubled harajuku teen, from flickr (copyright 2004 cherry vega)

On comp.lang.lisp, Joel Reymont (who is working on industrial strength poker room software in Lisp) asks “Why choose Franz ACL over LispWorks”:


I need to choose between Franz ACL and LispWorks for commercial development. Franz seems to be  more willing to negotiate but LW is way cheaper. Why would I go with Franz? Is ACL substantially better from a technical prospective?

Posted by jjwiseman at February 04, 2005 06:24 PM

Is it just me or is no one really comparing anything? I haven't gotten any good comparison from this discussion.

One thing I'd put out there though is that Lispworks has a cross-platform UI, whereas ACL does not, which is a big plus in my book since I use a Mac.

Posted by: Anonymous on February 4, 2005 08:08 PM

I develop on a PowerBook G4 15" with the latest Mac OSX and I totally love it. I would have ditched my PC long time ago if it were not for delivering Windows executables.

LispWorks has not only CAPI but also the Objective C bindings. This is a boon if you want to develop Cocoa apps. LispWorks also costs far less than ACL but... LW does not create shared libraries on any platforms but Windows and this feature is very important to me. ACL can create shared libraries on all platforms but HP-UX 11. This means you can package your Lisp logic and call it from any C or C++ app.

Other than it boils down to tech support to me. I found LW tech support slow to respond during my eval period. I needed to go beyond CAPI to get a handle on the raw image bytes and use them to load OpenGL textures. Apparently LW uses NSImage on OSX and something else on Windows. I needed to quickly combine image and mask stored in separate files to set the alpha channel.

This was very slow with Lisp, I asked LW for help and they basically told me to use the CAPI API. I had to dig into it myself, figure out how to get to the raw bytes of the NSImage bitmap, etc. I did not look forward to doing this on Windows so I asked LW a very pointed question regarding Windows. I got an answer a 2-3 days later but it was not very detailed. Last but not least LW charges for support and sells incident packs. A 10 pack is something like $1000 for me.

ACL support comes free of charge and every time I asked a question they came back with a very detailed answer within a few hours. I was able to get a few detailed answers from them in a single day. Finally, when I asked a broad sort of an answer they called me (I'm in Spain), had an hour-long chat with me on the phone and explained to me everything in detail. I tend to get stuck in very non-obvious places so support is very important to me. I give two thumbs up to Franz for their support and actually think it's worth all the extra money!

Posted by: Joel Reymont on February 5, 2005 06:43 AM
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