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Common Lisp Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach by Edmund Weitz

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15. Pathnames, Files, Directories

COMMON LISP uses so-called pathnames as a pretty elaborate way of dealing with files and directories. This is at least partly due to the diversity of file systems a COMMON LISP implementation could encounter at the time the standard was conceived.1 While the result is, on the one hand, remarkably flexible, it might, on the other hand, seem pretty arcane and convoluted to someone who only ever had to deal with file systems on Windows or on Unix-like operating systems.

Also, the price you have to pay for this flexibility is that implementations have some leeway in interpreting certain features, the consequence being that there are some things that you probably think should be obvious but aren’t. That’s why this ...

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