Elephant is a persistent object protocol and database for Common Lisp. The persistent protocol component of elephant overrides class creation and standard slot accesses using the Meta-Object Protocol (MOP) to render slot values persistent. Database functionality includes the ability to persistently index and retrieve ordered sets of class instances and ordinary lisp values. Elephant has an extensive test suite and the core functionality is becoming quite mature.
The Elephant code base is available under the LLGPL license. Data stores each come with their own, separate license and you will have to evaluate the implications of using them yourself.
Elephant was originally envisioned as a lightweight interface layer on top of the Berkeley DB library, a widely-distributed embedded database that many unix systems have installed by default. Berkeley DB is ACID compliant, transactional, process and thread safe, and fast relative to relational databases.
Elephant has been extended to provide support for multiple backends, specifically a relational database backend based on CL-SQL which has been tested with Postgres and SQLite 3, and probably support other relational systems easily. It supports, with some care, multi-repository operation and enables convenient migration of data between repositories.
The support for relational backends and migration to the LLGPL was to allow for broader use of Elephant in both not-for-profit and commercial settings. Several additional backends are planned for future releases including a native Lisp implementation released under the LLGPL.
Elephant's current development focus is to enhance the feature set including a native lisp backend, a simple query language, and flexible persistence models that selectively break one or more of the ACID constraints to improve performance.
Join the Elephant mailing lists to ask your questions and receive updates. You can also review archives for past discussions and questions. Pointers can be found on the Elephant website at
Installation instructions can be found in the Installation section. Bugs can be reported via the Elephant Trac system at
This also serves as a good starting point for finding out what new features or capabilities you can contribute to Elephant. The Trac system also contains a wiki with design discussions and a FAQ.