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.)
Update the PATH environment variable on your system to include the directory that holds the racket application. On Mac OS and Linux, this path will be something like "/path/to/racket/bin". On Windows, it’ll be something like "C:\Program Files\Racket". Then, from the terminal, you’ll be able to run racket and raco (see raco: Racket Command-Line Tools).
Windows users who haven’t altered your PATH before: don’t panic. To add the Racket command-line programs to your Windows 10 PATH, click the Windows search box, type the word path, and then click on Edit the system environment variables. Click on the Environment Variables button. In the top window, which contains your user variables, find Path and double-click it to open. Click the New button and either use the Browse button to select your Racket directory, or manually enter its path. Restart your Windows terminal (either the Command Prompt or PowerShell) and now racket and raco should work.
Alternatively, follow these instructions.
Mac OS users who haven’t altered your PATH before: don’t panic. Follow these instructions.
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.7.4.
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 (2.1.2229.709) 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.