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John K. Foderaro



The AllegroServe Webserver

(Portable Fork for use with ZACL, system name is "zaserve")

Table of contents


AllegroServe has these components:

  • HTTP/1.1 compliant web server capable of serving static and dynamic pages.
  • HTML generation facility that seamlessly merges html tag printing with computation of dynamic content. The HTML generator matches perfectly with the HTML parser (which is in another project) to allow web pages to be read, modifed in Lisp and then regenerated.
  • HTTP client functions to access web sites and retrieve data.
  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for both the server and client.
  • Web Proxy facility with a local cache.
  • Comprehensive regression test suite that verifies the functionality of the client, server, proxy and SSL.
  • High performance for static and dynamic web page delivery.
  • Licensed under terms that ensure that it will always be open source and that encourages its use in commercial settings.
  • A publish function that builds a page from static and dynamic data and handles caching of the result.
  • Access control mechanisms for publishing directories that gives the webmaster the ability to specify which files and directories in the tree should be visible.
  • The ability to run external CGI programs.
  • An improved virtual hosting system that supports different logging and error streams for each virtual host.

We've recently added these features:

  • The ability to compress and inflate files on the fly.
  • Support for chunking and HTTP/1.1.
  • Security up through TLS 1.0 (SSL 3.1).

See the latest Allegro CL Release Notes for more information on AllegroServe changes.


John Foderaro, Franz Inc.

Author comments

The server part of AllegroServe can be used either as a standalone web server or a module loaded into an application to provide a user interface to the application. AllegroServe's proxy ability allows it to run on the gateway machine between a company's internal network and the internet. AllegroServe's client functions allow Lisp programs to explore the web.

AllegroServe was also written and open sourced as a way to demonstrate network programming in Allegro Common Lisp. AllegroServe was written according to a certain coding standard to demonstrate how Lisp programs are more readable if certain macros and special forms are avoided.

A Note on Portability

See the Installation section below for information on running AllegroServe on CL implementations other than Allegro CL.

Although AllegroServe was originally written with portability (to other CL implementations) as "neither a goal nor a non-goal" (according to John Foderaro), it is a testament to the cleanliness of the AllegroServe codebase, as well as the flexibility of Common Lisp, and the power of the CL ANSI standard, that some ports of AllegroServe have in fact been accomplished over the years.

The most recent one attempts to keep the official AllegroServe code unmodified, and uses a compatibility layer called "ZACL", available in Quicklisp as :zacl.

With this said, please do keep in mind that Allegro CL is AllegroServe's native platform, and as such it will always work and perform best on Allegro CL. So if you have mission-critical or performance-critical applications, it will be to your advantage to invest in Allegro CL for developing and running your applications.

And probably most important of all for your mission-critical applications, running AllegroServe natively on a supported installation of Allegro CL comes backed with the dedicated, unparalleled support of the world-class Franz Inc. staff of engineers.


AllegroServe works on all versions of Allegro Common Lisp since 6.0.

It can also run to some extent on other CL implementations (see "A Note on Portability" above and "Installation" below).


There are no dependences for AllegroServe on Allegro CL. In order to run the allegroserve test suite you'll need to have the tester module (available at loaded.


Start lisp

This should work in a lisp running in a :case-insensitive-upper or :case-sensitive-lower mode, although we do most of our running and testing in a :case-sensitive-lower lisp. The current case mode is the value of excl:*current-case-mode*

Loading precompiled, installed version into Allegro CL

user(1): (require :aserve)

Loading from source on Allegro CL

load in the file

user(1):  :ld <path-to-aserve>/

it will compile and and load all of AllegroServe, and it will load in the examples file too.

Loading into a non-Allegro CL

CL-USER> (ql:quickload :zaserve)

This will not load the example files.

Note: For information on compatibility with non-Allegro CLs, please refer here.

start the server

user(2):  (net.aserve:start :port 8000)

You can omit the port argument on Windows where any process can allocate port 80 (as long as it's unused).

Try out the server

Go to a web browser and try http://your-machine-name:8000/. If the web browser is on the same machine as AllegroServe is running you can use http://localhost:8000/ as well. Now that you've verified that it works, you'll want to create an aserve.fasl that you can load into your application.

Change lisp's current directory to the AllegroServe source

user(3): :cd  <path-to-aserve>

Make a distribution

user(4): (make-aserve.fasl)

Now you'll find aserve.fasl in the aserve source directory.


See the doc/ file that is part of this project for more information on configuring AllegroServe.


For complete documentation see the contents of the doc directory, which is part of this project or visit the online version of the AllegroServe documentation.

Quick Start Documentation

cd to the directory containing the distribution and start Allegro cl (or start Allegro and use the toplevel :cd command to cd to the directory containing the aserve).

Load aserve.fasl

user(1): :ld aserve.fasl

Load the examples (either the compiled or source version)

user(2): :ld examples/examples

start the webserver

user(3):  (net.aserve:start :port 8010)

View in a browser


Usage notes

  • The steps to load the examples and start the server are interchangeable.
  • If you're running on a PC (or running as root on Unix) you can allocate port 80, so you don't have to specify a port when running the net.aserve:start function.
  • See the doc directory that is part of this project for more detailed usage documenation.


The aserve source code is licensed under the terms of the Lisp Lesser GNU Public License, known as the LLGPL. The LLGPL consists of a preamble and the LGPL. Where these conflict, the preamble takes precedence. This project is referenced in the preamble as the LIBRARY.


Webactions is a session-based framework for building web sites mixing static and dynamic content that builds upon AllegroServe and is part of this project.

See the webactions/doc/ file for more information.

For other links that may be of interest are:

Examples and Information

See the doc/ file and the contents under the examples directory that are part of this project for more examples on how to work with AllegroServe.

Open Source Info

This fork's homepage is Please use the Issues list there for specific questions, comments, suggestions, and patches. This fork is intended to track the original Allegroserve ( There is an informal community support and development mailing for the Franz open source projects of which this is derivative. Franz Inc. encourages you to take advantage by subscribing to the list. Once you're subscribed, email to with your questions, comments, suggestions, and patches.

Dependencies (1)

  • zacl

Dependents (1)

  • GitHub
  • Quicklisp