version 4.4b March 2021


Bigloo - a Practical Scheme Compiler

Bigloo is a Scheme implementation devoted to one goal: enabling Scheme based programming style where C(++) is usually required.

Bigloo attempts to make Scheme practical by offering features usually presented by traditional programming languages but not offered by Scheme and functional programming. Bigloo compiles Scheme modules. It delivers small and fast stand alone binary executables. Bigloo enables full connections between Scheme and C programs or between Scheme and Java programs, if you choose the JVM backend.

The Bigloo C backend is ported to:

Some projects implemented using Bigloo:

Example 1: Scheme and C

Bigloo makes it easy to share Scheme code and C code. In that example, the result of the fib Scheme function operating on Scheme fixnum numbers will be passed to the standard printf C function. This example also give a flavor of Bigloo's module.

(module fib
   (extern (macro printf::int (::string ::string ::long) "printf"))
   (main main))

(define (main x)
   (let ((arg (if (pair? (cdr x)) (cadr x) "30")))
      (printf "fib(%s)=%ld\n" arg (fib (string->integer arg)))))

(define (fib x)
   (if (

This Scheme program can be turned into a binary executable with:

$ bigloo fib.scm -o fib
$ ./fib 30

Example 2: Multi-Threading

This second example illustrate the use of libraries, multi-threading, and objects. Pthreads are accessed via the Bigloo pthread library as declared in the module declaration. Threads are instances of the pthread class. Once instantiate they can be spawned and synchronized. Bigloo supports the traditional smorgasbord of locking and synchronization primtives.

(module fib-mt
   (extern (macro printf::int (::string ::string ::long) "printf"))
   (library pthread)
   (main main))

(define (main x)
   (let ((arg (if (pair? (cdr x)) (cadr x) "30")))
      (printf "fib(%s)=%ld\n" arg (fib-mt (string->integer arg)))))

(define (fib-mt x)
   (+fx (thread-join!
		 (body (lambda () (fib (-fx x 1)))))))
	       (body (lambda () (fib (-fx x 2)))))))))

(define (fib x)
   (if (

To compile and run this program, simply use:

$ bigloo fib-mt.scm -o fib-mt
$ ./fib-mt 30

Example 3: Using Libraries

The third example. hardly more complex, shows how to use builtin libraries to build an efficient music player decoding .flac on the fly.

(module musicplay
   (library multimedia pthread alsa pulseaudio flac)
   (main main))

(define (main args)
   (let* ((pcm (instantiate::alsa-snd-pcm
		  (device "default")))
	  (decoder (instantiate::flac-alsadecoder
		      (mimetypes '("audio/flac" "application/x-flac"))))
	  (player (instantiate::alsamusic
		     (onstate (lambda (o s) (print "status " s)))
		     (onerror (lambda (o e) (print "error " e)))
		     (decoders (list decoder))
		     (pcm pcm))))
      (music-volume-set! player 80)
      (music-playlist-clear! player)
      (for-each (lambda (p) (music-playlist-add! player p)) (cdr args))
      (music-play player)))

To compile and run this program, simply use:

$ bigloo flac.scm -o flac
$ ./flac sample1.flac sample2.flac sample3.flac

This toy example rests on five builtin libraries to decode the flac format, to control the audio card and to play the music. This player is highly efficient. This player is highly efficient. It has been used in production on small ARM 200Mhz using only 64MB. Today, installed on a Raspberry PI, it will deliver more performance than needed to implement of high quality music streaming system.