PicoLisp: The Scalpel of ProgrammingA Radical Approach to Software Development
If some programming languages claim to be the "Swiss Army Knife of Programming", then PicoLisp may well be called the "Scalpel of Programming": Sharp, accurate, small and lightweight, but also dangerous in the hand of the inexperienced.
Less is more! - The maxim is: Keep it simple, and the programmer in control!
Why PicoLisp?Short answer: Because PicoLisp has two characteristic features, which are not found to that extent in other languages:
- An integrated database
- Equivalence of code and data
Integrated DatabaseDatabase functionality is built into the core of the language. PicoLisp is a database query and manipulation language.
Database entities are first class objects. They are called "external symbols", because they are automatically fetched from database files when accessed, but otherwise behave like normal symbols.
This fetching from external files is completely transparent, the symbols "are just there", and there is no need (or even a function) to read or write them explicitly. Pilog (a built-in Prolog engine) is used as a query language.
It is possible with PicoLisp to build large multi-user databases, distributed across many machines or in a cloud. Such a database system can be optimally fine-tuned, because all its levels are under the developer's control.
Equivalence of Code and DataThis is actually a feature of Lisp in general. However, PicoLisp really lives it. It makes it easy to write things like the HTML, PostScript or TeX libraries, exploring a syntax of nested function calls. This results in very succinct and precisely expressed programs.
For a closer explanation, see the article The Equivalence of Code and Data.
ExpressivenessPicoLisp is a very expressive language. Programs are often much shorter and concise than equivalent programs written in other languages.
Examples of various programming tasks and their solutions can be found at rosettacode.org.
EfficiencyPicoLisp uses (at least when compared to other Lisps) very little memory, on disk as well as in memory (heap space).
PicoLisp has no compiler, everything starts up very quickly, and code dynamically loaded at runtime (e.g. GUI pages) is immediately ready. Yet, the interpreter is quite fast, usually three times as fast as Python, for example. See also the article Need For Speed.