X3J13 Charter

Identity. The document below, "Purposes of X3J13 Committee" (standing document X3J13/SD-05) has been typed back in from a hardcopy (and therefore might contain transcription errors).

Authority. This document identifies itself as the actual charter.  I thought I had lost the record of this and was previously advertising its DRAFT version, X3J13/86-020.

Notation. Note, too, that all use of square brackets in the body color are from the original document. The only meta-comments in this document are in green. In general I have tried to keep the look of this document faithful to the original, including underlining, punctuation, line breaks, and spacing.

Credit. Although this document was formally a group effort, I personally credit Susan P. Ennis of Amoco Production Co. for exerting the leadership necessary to pull together the drafting committee and coordinate the drafting. I've heard some opine that this was a small contribution, but I do not regard it as such. In my personal opinion, it was one of the most important documents we ever made in our work, because it was able to resolve deadlocks among people who wanted aesthetics to dominate over current practice; at such times, we were able to point to the charter and say "this is already a decided matter", and progress was able to continue where we might have otherwise been mired forever. I am personally very thankful to Susan for her efforts in making sure we did this, since many had at the time opined that it was a waste of time and it might well not have ended up done without her prodding.
--Kent Pitman, Sunday, April 18, 1999

Purposes of X3J13 Committee (87.03.16)

1.  X3J13 is chartered to produce an American National Standard
for Common Lisp.  It will codify existing practice and provide
additional features to facilitate portability of code among
diverse implementations.

2.  The committee will begin with the language described in Common
Lisp:  The Language by Guy L. Steele Jr.  (Digital Press, 1984),
which is the current de facto standard for Common Lisp.  Whenever
there is a proposal for the standard to differ from Common Lisp:
The Language, the committee shall weigh both future costs of
adopting (or not adopting) a change and costs of conversion of
existing code.  Aesthetic considerations shall also be weighed,
but as subordinate criteria.

3.  The committee will address at least the following topics in
the course of producing the standard, in each case either
incorporating specific features or explaining why no action was

(a) Repairing mistakes, ambiguities, and minor ommissions
    in Common Lisp: The Language
(b) Error handling and condition signalling
(c) Semantics of compilation
(d) Object-oriented programming
(e) Iteration constructions
(f) Multiprocessing
(g) Graphics
(h) Windows
(i) Validation
(j) One versus two namespaces for functions and variables

Topics (a)-(c) concern deficiencies in Common Lisp: The Language
that require resolution.  Topics (d) and (e) are not addressed by
Common Lisp: The Language, but appear to be well-understood and
ready for standardization.  Topics (f)-(i) concern areas where
standardization is desirable but not crucial to production of a
standard.  Topic (j) is an area of current controversy within the
Lisp community.  Other topics may be considered if specific
proposals are received.

4.  The committee recognizes that Lisp Programming practice will
continue to evolve and anticipates the need for future revisions
and extensions to the standard.  This may include a family of
Lisps and/or a layered Lisp model.

5.  X3J13 is committed to work with ISO toward an international
Lisp standard.

Click here for Kent Pitman's index of Common Lisp references.