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9.1.3 A Scheme of Many Maintainers

Surveying the field, it seems that Scheme implementations correspond with their maintainers on an N-to-1 relationship. That is to say, that those people that implement Schemes might do so on a number of occasions, but that the lifetime of a given Scheme is tied to the maintainership of one individual.

Guile is atypical in this regard.

Tom Lord maintained Guile for its first year and a half or so, corresponding to the end of 1994 through the middle of 1996. The releases made in this time constitute an arc from SCM as a standalone program to Guile as a reusable, embeddable library, but passing through a explosion of features: embedded Tcl and Tk, a toolchain for compiling and disassembling Java, addition of a C-like syntax, creation of a module system, and a start at a rich POSIX interface.

Only some of those features remain in Guile. There were ongoing tensions between providing a small, embeddable language, and one which had all of the features (e.g. a graphical toolkit) that a modern Emacs might need. In the end, as Guile gained in uptake, the development team decided to focus on depth, documentation and orthogonality rather than on breadth. This has been the focus of Guile ever since, although there is a wide range of third-party libraries for Guile.

Jim Blandy presided over that period of stabilization, in the three years until the end of 1999, when he too moved on to other projects. Since then, Guile has had a group maintainership. The first group was Maciej Stachowiak, Mikael Djurfeldt, and Marius Vollmer, with Vollmer staying on the longest. By late 2007, Marius had mostly moved on to other things, so Neil Jerram and Ludovic Courtès stepped up to take on the primary maintenance responsibility. Neil and Ludovic were joined by Andy Wingo in late 2009, allowing Neil to step away, and Mark Weaver joined shortly thereafter. After spending more than 5 years in the role, Mark stepped down as well, leaving Ludovic and Andy as the current co-maintainers of Guile as of January 2020.

Of course, a large part of the actual work on Guile has come from other contributors too numerous to mention, but without whom the world would be a poorer place.

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