I recently had my work laptop nicked while I was in paris, so I've had to reconstruct my linux development environment on another laptop. That reminded me that I intended to document this stuff since I had to dig around a bit for it when I first picked up scheme a few months ago.

Things I use:

  • Gambit scheme
  • The main reason I've stuck with this is termite, but I've also found the mailing list friendly and helpful (and full of much bigger brains than mine). Gambit can also compile static C binaries that run on windows - that's important if you're going to write code in an esoteric environment like scheme. It also has a decent FFI which allows you to embed C code in with the scheme - tres cool, especially when you're writing performance critical code.
  • Emacs
  • You have to use this if you're doing lisp development. Personally I use emacs for development in any language, including Java. Steve Yegge wrote: "Emacs is to Eclipse as a light saber is to a blaster - but a blaster is a lot easier for anyone to pick up and use.". Nuff said. I tend to have two frames open - one with the gambit repl in it and the other to do the actually coding. For people that aren't in the know, the lisp development experience is slightly different to most languages: you basically have a process running (called the REPL) and inject blocks of code into it. This makes the development cycle turnaround super-fast and it becomes a bit frustrating when you go back to waiting for compile cycles in other languages. The various emacs scheme modes provide key presses for sending various regions of code to the repl, the most useful being the current definition (i.e. function) and the last expression.
  • Quack.el
  • Quack has lots of features that make editing scheme much easier. My favourite is automatically converting the word 'lambda' into a single greek lambda character (a-la DR scheme). In addition to making the code smaller, having greek letters all over the place makes me feel pretty hard-core (which is obviously very important).
  • E-tags
  • Emacs tags isn't a patch on what bicyclerepairman provides when I'm writing python, but it does enough to make navigating code relatively hassle free, plus it works with every language you can think of. Basically it parses files and creates an index of all the definitions so that you can jump to the definition of a symbol and back in a single key chord.
  • GNU Info
  • It's handy to have all the documentation in info format because then you can use emacs to jump to the apropriate docs when you need them without having to switch to browser etc.. E.g. this function maps [f1] to jump to the r5rs docs for whatever the cursor is currently pointing at. (with thanks to Bill Clementson for this).
    (add-hook 'scheme-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (define-key scheme-mode-map [f1]
              '(lambda ()
               (let ((symbol (thing-at-point 'symbol)))
                 (info "(r5rs)")
                 (Info-index symbol)))))))
    (N.B. quack has a feature to auto-open web based docs into emacs while you're coding, but I work offline so much that I don't use this much)
  • A unit testing framework.
  • I didn't really get on with any of the ones I tried, so I wrote a simple DSL myself (took about half a day after I'd figured out how syntax-case macros work). Ideally I want to end up using something like Nat's Protest system, which chucks out documentation as a side effect of testing. A Scheme DSL should be a good fit for this style, since you can name tests using strings rather than having to document with function names. For the time being though it provides just enough to get me testing (and also served to teach me a few things about macros, which is good.)

Is there anything missing?