Informs LispWorks of the presence of a dynamic library.


register-module name &key connection-style lifetime real-name dlopen-flags => name



A symbol or string specifying the Lisp name the module will be registered under.


A keyword determining when the connection to the dynamic library is made. One of :automatic , :manual or :immediate . The default value is :automatic .


A keyword specifying the lifetime of the connection. One of :indefinite or :session . The default value is :indefinite.


Overrides the name for identifying the actual dynamic library to connect to.


Controls use of dlopen on Unix-based systems. One of t , nil , :local-now , :global-now , :global-lazy , :local-lazy , or a fixnum. The default value is nil on Darwin, and t on other platforms.



The name argument.


The function register-module explicitly informs LispWorks of the presence of a DLL or shared object file, referred to here as a dynamic library. Functions such as make-pointer and define-foreign-function have a module keyword which can be used to specify which module the function refers to.

The main use of modules is to overcome ambiguities that can arise when two different dynamic libraries have functions with the same name.

If an application is delivered after calling register-module , then the application attempts to reload the module on startup but does not report any errors. Therefore you should call register-module during initialization of your application, rather than at build time, because this makes it it possible to report loading errors to the user. Calling register-module during initialization also makes it possible to compute the path and/or make the loading conditional.

name is used for explicit look up from the :module keyword of functions such as define-foreign-function. If name is a symbol, then real-name should also be passed to provide a filename. If real-name is not specified then name must be a string and specifies the actual name of the dynamic library to connect to.

The naming convention for the module name can contain the full pathname for the dynamic library. For example, a pathname such as


is specified as


On Windows, if the module is declared without an extension, " .DLL " is automatically appended to the name. To declare a name without an extension it must end with the period character (" . "). On other platforms, you should provide the extension, since there is more than one library format. Typical would be .so on Linux or FreeBSD and .dylib on Macintosh.

If a full pathname is not specified for the module, then it is searched for.

On Windows the following directories (in the given order) are searched:

  1. The directory of the executable.
  2. The current directory. This step can be switched off on Windows XP.
  3. The Windows system directory (as specified by GetSystemDirectory ). For Windows NT/2000/XP the 16-bit system directory ( SYSTEM ) is also searched.
  4. The Windows directory (as specified by GetWindowsDirectory )
  5. Directories specified by the PATH variable.

The simplest approach is usually to place the DLL in the same directory as the LispWorks executable or application. However if you really need different directories then be sure to call register-module at run time with the appropriate pathname.

On Linux, the search is conducted in this order:

  1. Directories on the user's LD_LIBRARY path environment variable.
  2. The list of libraries specified in /etc/ .
  3. /usr/lib , followed by /lib .

If connection-style is :automatic then the system automatically connects to a dynamic library when it needs to resolve currently undefined foreign symbols.

If connection-style is :manual then the system only connects to the dynamic library if the symbol to resolve is explicitly marked as coming from this module via the :module keyword of functions such as define-foreign-function.

Note: on LispWorks for UNIX only (not LispWorks for Linux or LispWorks for FreeBSD) this value :manual for connection-style is not supported.

If connection-style is :immediate then the connection to the dynamic library is made immediately. This checks that the library can actually be loaded before its symbols are actually needed: an error is signalled if loading fails.

If lifetime is :session then the module is disconnected when Lisp starts up. The only supported value of lifetime in LispWorks for UNIX is :indefinite .

You should load only libraries of the correct architecture into LispWorks. You will need to obtain a 32-bit dynamic library for use with 32-bit LispWorks and similarly you need a 64-bit dynamic library for use with 64-bit LispWorks. (If you build the dynamic library, pass -m32 or -m64 as appropriate to cc .) You can conditionalize the argument to register-module as in the example below.

Note: On Linux, you may see a spurious "No such file or directory" error message when loading a dynamic library of the wrong architecture. The spurious message might be localized.

Note: In LispWorks for UNIX the loader function link-load:read-foreign-modules is now deprecated in favor of register-module .

Note: static libraries are not supported except on UNIX. For example, on Linux evaluating this form:

      (fli:register-module "libc.a" 
                     :real-name "/usr/lib/libc.a"
                     :connection-style :immediate)

results in an error:

Could not register handle for external module "libc"
/usr/lib/libc.a : invalid ELF header

The problem is that libc.a is a static library. Instead, do:

(fli:register-module ""
                     :real-name ""
                     :connection-style :immediate)

Note that :real-name is given a relative path in this case, because libc is a standard library on Linux and it is best to let the operating system locate it.

dlopen-flags has an effect only on Unix-based systems. It controls the value that is passed to dlopen as second argument when the module is connected, and on Darwin it also controls whether dlopen is used at all.

The keyword values of dlopen-flags correspond to combinations of RTLD_* constants (see /usr/include/dlfcn.h ). The value t means the same as :local-lazy . The value nil means the same as t except on Darwin. On Darwin the value nil means do not use dlopen , and use the older interfaces instead.

A fixnum value means pass this value dlopen-flags to dlopen without checking. It is the responsibility of the caller to get it right in this case.

The default value of dlopen-flags is nil on Darwin, because it seems dlopen does not work properly on this platform.

Note: when developing with foreign code in LispWorks, the utilities provided in the Editor are useful - see Compiling and Loading Foreign Code with the Editor


In the following example on Windows, the user32 DLL is registered, and then a foreign function called set-cursor-pos is defined to explicitly reference the SetCursorPos function in the user32 DLL.

(fli:register-module :user-dll :real-name "user32")
(fli:define-foreign-function (set-cursor-pos 
    ((x :long)
     (y :long)) 
  :module :user-dll)

This example on Linux loads the shared library even though its symbols are not yet needed. An error is signalled if loading fails:

(fli:register-module ""
                     :connection-style :immediate)

In this last example a program which runs in both 32-bit LispWorks and 64-bit LispWorks loads the correct library for each architecture:

(fli:register-module #+:lispworks-32bit "mylib32"
                     #+:lispworks-64bit "mylib64")
See also


LispWorks Foreign Language Interface User Guide and Reference Manual - 14 Mar 2008