Dan manages to imply that the problem he encountered can be tagged open-source. Coordinating consistent builds across a tangle of libraries would seem to be hard enough that it would require some orchestration. It’s actually kind of striking how well this works in the loosely inter-project world of open source. Stefano has been known to point out that the friction that rises out of solving this problem creates inter-project social energy that’s extremely valuable. Which I’ll admit to wondering if it’s not a good thing that these problems arise.
The Common Lisp ecology is a bit weak on the infrastructure for library management, distribution, automated testing et. al. that helps to channel that energy in productive ways. For my Common Lisp stuff I’ve had pretty good luck with clbuild; it could use some more energy but who couldn’t!
One fun aspect of clbuild is that they have a file that makes it trivial, with the help of graphviz, to draw dependency graphs for your boondoggles. Here’s one of a program I wrote last week. You can see the library Dan’s troubles began with near the center there. Ironically it’s name is babel.
Update: I put the code that gins up that drawing here.