‘The half minute which we daily devote to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread over the whole twenty-four hours.’

Browsing the Web with Common Lisp

Benjamin Slade

I was a long-time user of Conkeror, a highly-extensible browser with an Emacs ethos. It still exists, but since the changes in the Firefox back-end away from XULRunner, which Conkeror uses, running Conkeror became increasingly difficult to use, so I’ve largely switched to just using plain Firefox.

However, John Mercouris has been developing Next Browser (originally styled nEXT Browser), a browser with a Common Lisp front-end, allowing for customisability and extensibility along Conkeror/Emacs lines:

The back-ends are – if I understand correctly – planned to be Blink for the QT port and WebkitGTK+ for the GTK port, with the Mac port of Webkit for the Mac version. But the front-end, the user-facing side, is Common Lisp.

John is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to properly port it to Linux and other non-Mac Unix variants (it apparently runs well already on the Mac, John’s main platform it seems [there’s no accounting for taste ;) ]). The raised money would be used in part to pay a professional C/C++ developer for their time.

Ambrevar is currently working on packaging Next Browser for Guix, which is exciting and promises to add to the amount of Lisp front-end software we’ll be able to use. Currently I’m running Emacs (elisp) for the majority of my non-browser productivity (writing papers & creating class slides using AUCTeX; reading composing email with mu4e; note-taking and scheduling with Org mode; &c. &c.) and, at least on one machine, StumpWM (Common Lisp window manager) for my ‘desktop environment’; and GNU GuixSD with a Guile-based package manager, Guile-based cron (mcron), and Guile-based init/daemon-manager (Shepherd). A functional, configurable, Lisp-based browser would be a most welcome addition. As excellent as Firefox is, especially its backend, I do really miss the halcyon days of Conkeror, and Next Browser could represent a return to those heady days of configurable browsing Emacs-style.

So, if this sort of thing appeals to you (i.e. if you like Lisp, Emacs, and/or highly-extendable browsers), you might want to support the Linux/Unix-port of Next Browser: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/next-browser-nix-support

There’s only about a week left in the campaign.