How to start with GHC development?

Simon Peyton-Jones simonpj at
Fri Dec 14 15:44:19 CET 2012

This thread has made it clear that we should do more to help people find a "way in" to GHC.  Here is what I have done:

*         Started a GHC Reading List page<>, giving background reading.  It's just a start; there are many gaps. I would love it if you would all help fill it out.  It's a wiki.

*         Amplified the Working on GHC<> page.  Again, please help make it more useful.  It's a wiki.

What else would help?   If the answer is X, can anyone help do X?



From: glasgow-haskell-users-bounces at [mailto:glasgow-haskell-users-bounces at] On Behalf Of Chris Nicholls
Sent: 13 December 2012 12:00
To: Jan Stolarek
Cc: GHC Users List
Subject: Re: How to start with GHC development?

> And this is where I'm a little stuck too. I have a reasonably good picture
> of GHC's pipeline, having worked on it for my master's thesis, and I'd like
> to get more involved and possibly even contribute something useful. But I'm
> not sure where to start.
Well, that's a bit discouraging - if you worked on it in master's thesis and still don't know
where to start then it this is probably even harder than I suspected.

Sorry! That wasn't what I intended. I meant more that I have a reasonably, good idea of  *how* to work on ghc but not much of idea of *what* I can usefully do.  The work in my thesis turned out not to be that useful, and I'm not sure what to do next. It sounds like you've already got some ideas there though.

Perhaps I shouldn't have hijacked your question with a 'me too' but I suspect there are quite a lot of people who want to contribute, but don't really know where to start.

Don't be discouraged, its absolutely possible to get your hands dirty without having to understand all the theory and the community is incredibly friendly.
 As for getting an overview of the pipeline, I found the videos of the talks the Simons gave at the 2006 Hackathon helpful. Perhaps someone with more knowledge than me can comment on how relevant the content is after six years?
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