git clone 'https://github.com/HDFGroup/hdf5-cffi.git'

(ql:quickload :hdf5-cffi)


hdf5-cffi is a CFFI wrapper for the HDF5 library. It does not provide a LISPy (= pretty) interface to HDF5. All it lets you do is to use HDF5 from Common LISP as you would from C. Not a pleasant sight, but hey, LISP is the programmable programming language (John Foderaro) and your imagination is the limit. If you‘d like to see Common LISP and HDF5 in action, have a look at Gary Hollis’ cl-ana package, which was also the main inspiration for this package.

Bindings for FORTRAN, arguably the oldest high-level programming language, were introduced in HDF5 1.4.0, which was released about 13 years ago. LISP, “the greatest single programming language ever designed” (Alan Kay), has not gotten the attention it deserves. This is a first step towards rectifying the situation.


Install hdf5-cffi via Quicklisp. The installation might fail because the installer doesn't find the HDF5 header files (hdf5.h & Co.) or the shared library (libhdf5.so). The former are necessary for the CFFI groveller and, yes, you also need a C compiler. If HDF5 is installed in a “standard” location such as /usr/local you should be fine. Otherwise, you might have to adjust your CC and LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variables, e.g., export CC=~/bin/h5cc export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=~/lib:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH Check out the examples in the examples directory. For example, to run examples/datasets/h5ex-d-checksum.lisp with SBCL, open a shell and run sbcl --load examples/datasets/h5ex-d-checksum.lisp. The output should look like this: ``` This is SBCL 1.2.5, an implementation of ANSI Common Lisp. More information about SBCL is available at http://www.sbcl.org/.

SBCL is free software, provided as is, with absolutely no warranty. It is mostly in the public domain; some portions are provided under BSD-style licenses. See the CREDITS and COPYING files in the distribution for more information. Filter type is: H5Z_FILTER_FLETCHER32 Maximum value in DS1 is: 1890 ``` Enjoy!


  1. Garry Hollis' cl-ana
  2. Daniel Herring's dh-misc/hdf5