The Popularity of Four Lisp Dialects on Github

I recently read Joel McCracken’s blog “5 Reasons Why You Should Learn Emacs Lisp Today”, which mentioned that “Emacs Lisp is still the most popular Lisp language on github”.

Joel’s blog was written at the end of March 2012, it is now the end of March 2013 and I discovered that even a year later, Emacs Lisp (Elisp) is the still the most popular Lisp dialect according to Github’s popularity calculation algorithm.

This fact changed my ideas about the Lisp market. Since I first read the term “Lisp” from Eric Raymond’s essay “How to Become a Hacker”, I regarded Common Lisp and Scheme as the two major Lisp dialects that have dominated the Lisp market . Later on, with the prevalence of Clojure, I thought the Lisp market was basically shared by these three languages. I never thought that a low key language, Elisp, could be so hugely popular. However, considering many Elisp repositories on Github are Emacs configurations, there is some extent of exaggeration.

2013-07-30 Update poi519 mentioned that Racket (a language in the Scheme family) ranked #25 on Github. Take this fact into consideration, Scheme might be more popular than Clojure.

1 Emacs Lisp

Elisp, ranked #17

  • Elisp, ranked number 17, most Elisp related repositories are Emacs addons and Emacs configurations.
  • `magnars / .emacs.d’ is an enhanced Emacs distribution from the creator of Emacs Rocks (A series of videos that demonstrate the beauty of Emacs).
  • `nosequitur / smex’ is an Emacs addon that is used for improving the experience of calling `M-x’ (function `execute-extended-command’).
  • `js2-mode’ is an Emacs addon written by Steve Yegge, which is used for JavaScript programming. `mooz / js-mode’ is an improved version of `js2-mode’.
  • `bbatsov / prelude’ is another popular enhanced Emacs distribution.
  • `chrisbarrett / elisp-namespaces’ is an Emacs addon that implements namespace in Elisp.

2 Clojure

Clojure, ranked #23

  • Clojure, ranked number 23.

3 Common Lisp

Common Lisp, ranked #33

  • Common Lisp, ranked number 33.

4 Scheme

Scheme, ranked #34

  • Scheme, ranked number 34. Most repositories that attract high amounts of forking (not in a sexual way :D ) are not practical projects, including the solutions to the exercises on “The Seasoned Schemer” and “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”.

5 Top 17 Languages

Ranking Language
1 JavaScript
2 Ruby
3 Java
4 Python
5 Shell
7 C
8 C++
9 Perl
10 Objective-C
11 Coffee Script
12 C#
13 VimL
14 ASP
15 Scala
16 Assembly
17 Emacs Lisp

6 Conclusion

Overall, Lisp languages are not popular on Github.

Considering many Elisp repositories are actually Emacs configurations, the most popular Lisp dialect on Github is probably Clojure, which has slipped out of the top 20. One of the biggest problems of Lisp is the lack of reliable libraries, which is “solved” in Clojure by building the language on JVM. I think this is quite a smart way to make Lisp more practical. Also, I’ve been trying to develop Android apps in Clojure, it really is a language of great potential.

Happy Hacking!

Date: 2013-03-28

Author: 任文山 (Ren Wenshan)

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4 thoughts on “The Popularity of Four Lisp Dialects on Github

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    1. Wenshan Post author

      Thank you, the blog is updated. I didn’t realize that Racket is regarded as an independent language on Github.

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