Six months ago I released the first "State of the Haskell Ecosystem", a collaborative wiki documenting the maturity of the Haskell language for various application domains:
The primary goals of this wiki are to:
- Advertise what areas the Haskell language and ecosystem excel at
- Warn newcomers about common pitfalls so they avoid unpleasant surprises
- Give new contributors ideas for where they can improve things
Every six months I plan to post about what changed since the last update in order to highlight any major changes or trends.
The biggest improvement in the Haskell ecosystem was the Early Access release of the Haskell Programming from first principles book. The book is not yet released but I consider this book the best resource for people new to the language. The material is very beginner-friendly and written for somebody without any functional programming experience whatsoever.
The book is not free, but if you're really serious about learning Haskell the price is well worth it and this book will save you a lot of headaches.
The rating of the "Educational" section still remains "Immature" until this book is out of Early Access and finally released, but once the book is out I will finally mark Haskell as having "Mature" educational resources.
For a long time
emacs were the Haskell editors of choice. Now more traditional IDEs like Atom and IntelliJ are starting to get Haskell support, but their respective Haskell plugins still need a bit more polish.
Also, the Haskell for Mac is supposed to work really well for learning the language if you have an OS X development environment.
However, my rating hasn't changed for IDE support, and I believe this is still the biggest gap in the Haskell ecosystem so I want to draw attention to this area for people interested in contributing to Haskell. Improving IDE support is the single easiest way to lower the entry barrier to newcomers.
If you're not sure what editor to contribute to I recommend the
ide-haskell plugin for Atom. This editor and plugin are freely available and cross-platform and many users have reported an excellent experience with this plugin, although some setup issues still remain.
Another important area where newcomers can contribute is the Leksah IDE, which is a true integrated development environment for Haskell which is also written in Haskell.
Front-end web programming
stack recently added support for
ghcjs, meaning that it's now very easy to start a new
ghcjs project. Previously, setting up
ghcjs correctly was very difficult, but those days are over now.
ghcjs ecosystem still has a long way to go before I would rate it as "Mature", but
stack support is a big and necessary step in that direction.
Standalone GUI applications
Right now I'm looking for just one really polished widget toolkit before I rate this area of the Haskell ecosystem "Mature".
Deech has made great strides in improving the ease of setup and use for the
FLTK Haskell bindings and integration with visual interface builders. The setup process still needs a bit more polish but I think his work probably holds the most promise for a mature widget toolkit binding.
The Liquid Haskell extension has made some great strides in adding refinement types to the language. This is not yet an official language extension, but you can still use it today and it works really well. You can learn more about refinement types by reading the awesome Liquid Haskell tutorial:
I already gave Haskell a "Best in class" rating for the type system, but advances like Liquid Haskell just further cement its lead.
I upgraded the parsing rating from "Mature" to "Best in class". Haskell has always been a leader among languages when it comes to parsing, but I held off on a "Best in class" rating for a while because all the Haskell parsing libraries required you to sacrifice one of the following features:
- Good error messages
- Full backtracking (i.e. no need to left-factor the grammar)
- First-class parsers (i.e. not a parser generator like
Earley library changed that and provides a well-rounded choice. That doesn't mean that I recommend
Earley for all parsing use cases, though, and there are still great reasons to use other parsing libraries:
attoparsecremains the king of speed, generating parsers competitive in speed with C
trifectaremains the king of error messages, generating gorgeous
However, if Earley gets a little more polish then I'd probably switch to Earley as my default parsing library recommendation for new users.
The newly added
glue-* libraries give Haskell a new service toolkit useful. Haskell still gets an "Immature" rating in this area until I see people consolidate on a common stack for service-oriented architectures and report success stories in industry.
Two generous contributors added two new sections to the wiki which I would like to highlight:
- ARM processor support - contributed by @bburdette
- Computer vision - contributed by Siddhanathan Shanmugam (@siddhanathan)
I would like to thank both of them for their contributions!
As always, visit the Github collaborative wiki for the most up-to-date information since this post will eventually go stale. Pull requests are always welcome, both for corrections and new additions.