In case of any inaccuracies, ambiguities or suggestions, please create an issue here.


Common Lisp documentation - libraries or the HyperSpec - isn't known to be particularly "modern" or "attractive". While those terms are subjective, ease of introduction to a technology does seem to have some objective component to it.



Each of the below libraries can be installed using quicklisp (except quicklisp of course!):

(ql:quickload "alexandria") ; for example

See quicklisp - Getting Started for instructions on installing quicklisp.

Optionally, you may want to use trivial-package-local-nicknames for, well, adding package local nicknames.

(ql:quickload :trivial-package-local-nicknames)
(trivial-package-local-nicknames:add-package-local-nickname :a :alexandria)
; OR
(defpackage my-package 
  (:use #:cl)
  (:local-nicknames (#:a #:alexandria)))
;;; I'm yet to read up on the naming conventions and the reasons behind those conventions
;;; in the context of systems and packages; some conventions do exist.

Libraries documented so far

See awesome-cl for more libraries.

(See the html version of this page, rather than the markdown version for the working links below.)

Defacto libraries

Not yet defacto

  • numcl - lispy clone of numpy
  • unix-opts - minimalistic command line options parser
  • utilities - a collection of some more utility libraries

Previous Efforts

Documentation efforts have been made at:

  • Quickdocs: I didn't like the theme. I want the API at a glance! Honestly, this can improve! But don't look at me. I'm also not very at ease with full automation without human intervention.

  • Quickref: Frankly, this is just too much. As a user, all I want to know is "What can this library do? And, how do I do it? (What functions, macros or anything is available?)" Therefore, for a user, the only good place I found was the Packages section here. It is, after all, a Reference Manual. Another excuse is, again, that I do want human intervention in documentation.

  • Ultimately, this seems to be the place for everything. And indeed, most of the work on the site you are reading is directly based on the official documentation. An attempt is made to "simplify" wherever need is felt.

  • CLiki: Again, layout and "at a glance"!

  • UltraSpec: I liked this. The only trouble? It isn't "quick".


I liked (the theme of) UltraSpec. I also liked mkdocs - I am using mkdocs with the pre-provided readthedocs theme. What UltraSpec seems to be good for is larger websites than what is currently here, in that it isn't as straightforward as mkdocs for library-documenters to use it.

Additionally, markdown files and dokuwiki files (the format UltraSpec requires) are interconvertible (but the compatibility is untested) using pandoc. (pandoc is indeed useful for a ton of other file formats!)


As a marketing for mkdocs: mkdocs is as simple as

  • pip install mkdocs # or conda
  • create a .yml configuration file (or copy and edit!)
  • put your markdown files inside docs/ directory (or as mentioned in the .yml file)
  • mkdocs gh-deploy# to deploy on github-pages


PS: Regardless of the justifications, all I wanted was a documentation site with a "sidebar" that, both, tells the page at glance, and is easy to navigate.