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Meta-HTML, YAWAL (Yet Another Web Applications Language)

Mar 29, 20042 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Meta-HTML is a cross between HTML and Lisp

If there’s one thing I find exciting about the world of the Web, it is the fantastic breadth of ideas that developers come up with to solve problems. Nowhere is this drive more apparent than in the languages used to implement Web application solutions.

I just came across a language that is new to me: Meta-HTML (see links below) which is a freeware (GNU license) interpreter described as “a cross between HTML and Lisp and has a huge existing function library, including support for sockets, image creation, Perl, GNU plot, etc. It is extensible in both Meta-HTML and other languages (C, etc.).”

It is also considered “suitable for large-scale symbolic manipulation [and] it provides the most commonly desired Web [functions] as built-in primitives.”

Meta-HTML implementation on a Web is similar in concept to ASP: The interpreter parses pages and processes any Meta-HTML statements that are in the form of tags embedded in the content. Here’s an example of Meta-HTML coding:

    You are connected to “” and

    reading text written by .

One of the great strengths of Meta-HTML is that it solves the problem of keeping state for individual sessions and does so in a server- and browser-independent manner.

The language includes support for the creation of HTML forms and tables, a built-in database and generic SQL support for mSQL, mySQL, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, and many other ODBC compliant databases. There’s also support for evaluation of Perl statements directly from within Meta-HTML pages and for the evaluation of Meta-HTML statements from within that Perl code.

Meta-HTML runs on Linux and Unix, specifically: i386 Linux 2.x, HP-UX 10.x,  Sparc Solaris 2.5, Sparc SunOS 4.1.3, AIX PPC 4.1.4, BSDI 3.0, SCO OpenServer, x386 Solaris 2.5, IRIX 5.3, and AXP Linux.

Meta-HTML’s documentation is by no means complete but this is more than enough to get you started and answer the basic questions.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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