The first draft of Project Posner was written in Common Lisp. I thought it would be fun to see how Common Lisp fared as a language for doing heavy text processing with a web front end. It worked well, and I’m convinced it made the process easier than it would have been with any other language. But everything I’ve done with it up till now is off-line. I used Lisp to statically generate the site on my desk, then uploaded the HTML pages to the server. Search is handled by ht://Dig, an old-school CGI app written in C.
I could probably write that stuff myself in Lisp. But could I do it faster and better than the hundreds of other people who have already done it in Perl/PHP/Python/Ruby? I don’t think so. I’m not that good.
So there it is. Web application development is an evolving problem, but by and large a solved one. And it wasn’t solved in Lisp. When Paul Graham was creating Viaweb, no one else was even thinking of web applications, so he had to create his own tools. But the biggest recent poster child for Lisp on the Web, Reddit, gave up and switched to Python (to much gnashing of teeth in the Lisp world). It has nothing to do with the language itself. Lisp is still great. It’s all about the tools, the libraries, the “borrowablility” of other people’s code.
So I’ll continue using Lisp for off-line stuff, private projects and such. But for building Project Posner version 2.0, I’ll probably look elsewhere.