Pollen will run on Mac OS, Linux, or Windows.
Pollen is not a self-contained GUI program like Adobe InDesign. It’s a software package that runs atop the Racket language environment (also a free download).
Your three main tools in Pollen will be a text editor (for those starting out, I recommend DrRacket: The Racket Programming Environment), a terminal window, and a web browser. The terminal commands you’ll be using are simple, but if you haven’t used your terminal window before, this is the moment to learn where it is. (On Mac OS, your terminal window is called Terminal; on Windows it’s called the Windows Command Processor.)
After the initial download, Pollen does not require a network connection.
Download and install Racket, which includes DrRacket. (Of course, you’re welcome to use your preferred text editor, but the tutorials will assume you’re using DrRacket.)
Windows users: when you see instructions that reference racket or raco, I’ll trust you to convert into the appropriate command for your system. Assuming defaults, it’s likely to be "C:\Program Files\Racket\raco" (include the surrounding quotes in the command).
Linux and Mac OS users: update your system PATH variable to include the path to Racket’s newly installed "bin" directory. Then, from the terminal, you’ll be able to run racket and raco (see raco: Racket Command-Line Tools).
Mac OS users who haven’t altered your PATH before: don’t panic. You need to add the full path of Racket’s "bin" subdirectory to the "/etc/paths" file on your system.
First, confirm that your Racket installation works. Open your new Racket directory and launch DrRacket. If DrRacket works, then your Racket installation is sound.
Second, verify the full path to the "bin" subdirectory of your new Racket directory. If you put this directory in "Applications" as recommended, the path will be:
Third, copy the terminal command below, paste it into your terminal, and type return. (It will ask you for your password, because the "paths.d" directory is restricted to administrators.)
sudo sh -c 'echo "/Applications/Racket v6.12/bin" >> /etc/paths.d/racket'
Of course, "/Applications/Racket v6.12/bin" in this command should be edited as necessary to represent the actual location and version of your Racket installation.
Mac OS users who are still confused: here’s an even gentler walkthrough.
Linux, Mac OS, and Windows users: try typing racket on your command line, and you should see something like this:
~ : racket
Welcome to Racket v.6.12.
If so, all is well. Type ctrl+D to exit (or (exit) on Windows).
But if you get an error like this:
Unrecognized command: racket
You have a deeper problem with your Racket installation that needs adjustment before continuing (usually a misconfiguration of PATH).
Then install Pollen. Your first option is to install it using raco on the command line:
raco pkg install pollen
To check that it worked, try typing raco pollen test on the command line, and you should see this:
~ : raco pollen test
raco pollen is installed correctly
But if you get:
raco: Unrecognized command: pollen
You’ll need to fix the problem before proceeding, most likely by reinstalling Pollen.
Your other option is to install Pollen from inside DrRacket. Use the menu command File|Install Package .... Type pollen in the box and click Install. When it’s done, relaunch DrRacket.
Either way, Pollen’s HTML documentation will be automatically installed. One way to reach the documentation:
raco docs pollen
- After that, you can also update the package from the command line:
raco pkg update --update-deps pollen
Updating is optional. Major updates may have backward-incompatible changes, so you might want to consult the current Version notes (1.3.1724.813) before plunging in. The documentation for the newest version of Pollen is available online and refreshed daily.
Pollen doesn’t install anything on your machine other than the Racket packages it relies on. It does not gather any information about you or your project. Your data belongs to you. I won’t know that you’re using Pollen unless you tell me.
Pollen’s built-in project web server is a real web server, however. Be mindful if you’re using it on a machine visible on a public network.
This project server is primarily a development & previewing tool. You do not need it to deploy Pollen projects (which generally compile down to a set of static files).
In general, I subscribe to the view that software should let you do what you want, not enroll you in a nanny state. Pollen is, in part, a programming language. Like all programming languages, it will let you do things that are incredibly clever. And also miserably stupid. But that is how we learn.
I’ve been using Pollen daily for several years (and will continue to do so, because my main work is writing). I’ve made Pollen available because a) I’m certain that others have had the same frustrations that I have, and b) feature suggestions and bug reports make it more useful for everyone.
I hope you enjoy using it. If you get stuck on something not covered here, see Getting more help.