Why isn’t Lisp more widely used in web development?
You’d love to make a site in Racket, the hottest Lisp out there. The Racket developers have built up a truly impressive system that’s a real pleasure to use.
All the ingredients appear to be there:
Built in web-server? Check.
High-quality, thorough documentation? Check and check.
A Lisp that feels like it comes from the future? Oh yeah.
But there’s precious little guidance out there on how to make real-world web sites with the Racket web server.
Sure, the official documentation contains a handful of simple examples. They’re a good start. But you’re not sure how to move from them to making a more complex site. There’s a big gap.
Maybe you start to suspect that Racket’s HTTP server is just a fancy toy.
Maybe you’ve even given up on the idea of hacking the web in Lisp.
That would be a real shame, because the Racket web server—while fairly lean compared with other web frameworks out there‚ is a powerful, lightning-fast HTTP server.
And when you combine Racket’s HTTP server with the cutting-edge features of Racket, we’re talking about a system that web developers can drool over.
Even if you’re new to the web, Racket’s direct approach gives you a delightful way to dip your toes in without getting bogged down in a bazillion different frameworks and dependencies.
I’m working on Server: Racket, an ebook all about real-world web development with Racket. In this ebook, you will learn how to make real-world web sites using the built-in Racket HTTP server.
We will build up a full-fledged site, step-by-step, and find out how to solve problems that the official documentation doesn’t talk about (not in detail, anyway, and not in any full-length tutorial).
We’ll dig in to these web development topics and see how to deal with them in Racket:
I’m Jesse Alama. I’ve been hacking Scheme and Lisp since 1996. And I love building web sites. I’m a full-stack developer by day. And by night, too. I write about these topics over at
In my view, Lisp has a lot of potential for shaping how we develop for the web. The flexibility and power of Lisp is well-suited to taking on the web’s thorny problems.
I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned so far about making web sites using Racket, a truly world-class Lisp.