Improving the Guile Ecosystem


Guile is great! It can be better!

I think Scheme is a fantastic programming language. It is minimal yet powerful and practical enough for both personal hacking and larger projects.

Guile is a great Scheme implementation with a lot of practical value, but why don’t more people use it?

On a technical level, Guile is improving every year. There’s a ton of work going into the compiler (Hoot) and garbage collector (whippet) right now which will help Guile reach more platforms and run much more efficiently.

Here are some thoughts I have, in no particular order, on how we can all help Guile Scheme become a more compelling choice for programmers who want to try Scheme out for new projects:

Better Developer Tools

  • Editor integration and tooling
  • Unit testing frameworks
  • Linters
  • Debugging tools
  • Performance measurement tools

Use and contribute to Andrew Tropin’s Ares RS and Arei IDE projects:

Better Compiler Errors

This is a must for helping new people become comfortable using the language and tools.

An Improved Manual

This has a direct impact on the adoption of not only Guile, but Guix as well!

Cross-platform Dependency Manager

Guix is not cross platform, but it is the best Guile package manager and build tool.

Guildhall was a solution for this but it is no longer used:

Perhaps something more lightweight could be created?

Better Windows Support

This may be improving soon! But, there is probably more work to do to ensure that cross-platform applications work well on Windows (including using community Guile libraries).

Standardized Guile Library Documentation

Info/texinfo, etc, could be considered a solution for this, but is there a good way to generate Guile library documentation directly from the source?

Does Guix have a solution for this already?

There could be a centralized documentation site for Guile libraries like Rust’s own

More Community Libraries

Cover more interesting use cases. Provide FFI wrappers for important C libraries, like ffmpeg, etc.

Someone should implement an Org Mode parser for Guile! Haunt, the static site generator for Guile, could really use it! Guile Present may have a starting point for an Org Mode parser.

Existing list of libraries:

Alias ice-9 to guile

This may not be possible due to Scheme standard naming conventions, but it would be nice if there was a more user-friendly name that made it obvious that these are Guile-specific libraries that are built-in.

Streamlined Application Deployment

Right now, you can package a Guile application using guix pack but this really only works on Linuxes.

What about Windows or macOS?

Is there a way to create statically linked Guile applications containing pre-compiled Scheme code (.go files)?

Maybe not fully statically linked, there could be dynamic C libraries, but the Guile code would all be linked in one program.

You can compile a C application using libguile, possibly even statically linked, to make an application that contains Guile. But, can you embed .go files in it?

There may be some interesting pointers found in the Chickadee implementation of chickadee bundle.

More Flagship Projects

GNU Guix is a good example of a flagship project.

dwl-guile could be an example of this if it becomes more well known.

Zrythm could also be a flagship project because it enables scripting with Guile.

GNU Shepherd and mcron could also be considered flagship projects.

We need more flagship apps like:

  • Games
  • Tools, either command line or graphical
  • Window managers, or desktop environment style tools
  • Hackable common programs like web browsers or editors
  • Media creation apps (graphics, audio, video, etc)
  • A code forge written in Guile (Gitile is one example)

A Larger, More Visible Community

There isn’t a lot of Guile activity on the “public internet”. A lot of discussion happens on mailing lists which most people avoid like the plague.

And there isn’t really much promotion of Guile happening on social media, YouTube, etc.

What we need is more people talking about Guile, teaching Guile, sharing projects written with Guile, on various social medias including video platforms.

This also requires people creating projects with Guile who are excited to talk about them!

Discuss on the Forum!

cow_2001 has already created a thread for discussing Guile library ideas:

Come create your own threads about the kinds of projects or improvements you’d like to see in Guile!

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