Public archive for the Return to Ritherdon project.
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Nicola Ellis and Ritherdon Archive

This is an website, written in Common Lisp and built on top of the Caveman2 framework. Its main intention is to be the digital archive for the work produced by Nicola Ellis during her time working alongside Ritherdon.

Overview of Technology Used

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the tech. used to build and run this website:

For a complete list of packages used by Common Lisp, look at the ritherdon-archive.asd file.

System Overview

The complete system is broken into two services:

  1. Ritherdon Archive (the main site)
  2. Meilisearch (the separate search system/service/instance)

From an end-user's perspective, they shouldn't be able to tell the Meilisearch service is part of the overall system. When an end-user uses the Search features on the main site, the main site will make the requests to the Meilisearch service. From there, the Meilisearch service will return its results to the main site – on the end-user's machine. You should see this closed-loop in the diagram below.

  graph TD
      Request((Request)) --> Server
      Server{Nginx} --> Archive
      Server -.-> Meilisearch
      Archive -. Search terms sent to server \n as their own requests .-> Request
      Request -.-> Server
      Meilisearch -. Results returned to Archive \n on clients machine .-> Archive
      Archive --> Response((Response))

When it comes to the main site (Ritherdon Archive), it stores the archive data in the /storage directory and the SQLite3 database. Both are kept in-sync. by the main site – as part of its feature-set.

  graph TD
      Request((Request \n /Response)) <--> Server
      Server{Nginx} <--> Archive
      Archive <-.-> DB[(Database)]
      Archive <-.-> Storage[/Files in /storage directory/]


To see what is being called, please read the makefile. If you are unsure how to set-up an environment for developing in Common Lisp, please use the following link:

Otherwise, just use the makefile.

  git clone
  cd ritherdon-archive
  sudo make install
  make lisp-install
  make quicklisp-add
  make search-install # Installs Meilisearch.

Note: The make search-install command adds the meilisearch binary to /usr/bin/. If you want to uninstall Meilisearch, you will need to delete it from /usr/bin. Run sudo rm /usr/bin/meilisearch, to delete it.

Run System on Local Machine

Because the system consists of two systems running in tandem, you will need to have two terminals open to run them separately – and see the logs for each service.


Usually, you get this part of the system up and running before you get the main site working – mostly because of the tasks flow easier – but it's not essential to start this service first.

  # Make sure meilisearch is added to your /usr/bin/ directory.
  meilisearch --no-analytics

If you enter http://localhost:7700 in your browser, you should see the meilisearch search page. Use ctrl-c to stop the service.

Main Site (Ritherdon Archive)

To run the main site (Ritherdon Archive), start Steel Bank Common Lisp (SBCL) by running rlwrap sbcl in your terminal. When SBCL has finished loading, run the following,

  (ql:quicklisp :ritherdon-archive)
  (search:set-filter-attributes) ; Configures the Meilisearch service.
  (ritherdon-archive:start :server :woo)

Then go to http://localhost:5000 in your browser.

To stop the program, enter (ritherdon-archive:stop) in SBCL.

Run System on (Prod.) Server

It is assumed you know how to register a domain name and point it your server running this website and the Meilisearch instance also. I usually use a sub-domain of the main site (Ritherdon Archive) for the Meilisearch instance. For example, is the URL for the main site making the URL for the Meilisearch instance.

This section builds on the one above (running on local machine). The main difference is getting the system to run on Nginx and as a Systemd service.

The first thing to do is replace the parts which say <INSERT USERNAME HERE> and <INSERT URL HERE> in the files in /conf. Those values are specific to your deployment environment. At the time of writing, there should be four files in /conf. They are:

  1. meilisearch.conf (the config. file for Nginx)
  2. meilisearch.service (the .service file for Systemd)
  3. ritherdon-archive.conf (the config. file for Nginx)
  4. ritherdon-archive.conf (the .service file for Systemd)

After you have entered your details into the .conf and .service files, you can start to copy the files into their new locations.

Set-Up Meilisearch

  # Nginx
  sudo cp ~/ritherdon-archive/conf/meilisearch-prod.conf \
  sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/meilisearch.conf \
  sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

  sudo cp ~/ritherdon-archive/conf/meilisearch.service \
  sudo systemctl daemon-reload
  sudo systemctl enable meilisearch.service
  sudo systemctl status meilisearch.service

Set-Up Ritherdon Archive (Main Site)

  # Nginx
  sudo cp ~/ritherdon-archive/conf/ritherdon-archive.conf \
  sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/ritherdon-archive.conf \
  sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

  sudo cp ~/ritherdon-archive/conf/ritherdon-archive.service \
  sudo systemctl daemon-reload
  sudo systemctl enable ritherdon-archive.service
  sudo systemctl status ritherdon-archive.service

After everything is set-up, head over to the site's live URL and complete the set-up form.

Set-up Filter Attributes for Meilisearch Instance

After the search and main site's are set-up, you should be ready to set the filter attributes used by Meilisearch. The quickest way to do that is to run the following commands in SBCL (rlwrap sbcl),

  (ql:quickload :ritherdon-archive)

You might need to stop the ritherdon-archive Systemd service sudo systemctl stop ritherdon-archive.service to run the above commands. If that is the case, remember to start the Systemd service, sudo systemctl start ritherdon-achive.service.

A Note on Using Ritherdon Archive

This README has focused only on the developer side of the project. This is deliberate. I just haven't had the time to write any documentation on that side of the site or is the budget there to do so. Hopefully, this will change but at the time of writing (Nov. 2022), there is nothing in the repo's wiki.