Active Haskell development and libraries

Mark Carroll
Mon, 28 Oct 2002 16:28:14 -0500 (EST)

The Libraries and Tools For Haskell page has quite a list of things, but a
few broken links, and links to very many projects that seem to have
started off as interesting research projects that, as the page itself
says, were more proofs of concept and are no longer maintained.

We can't help but be slightly worried by this when we're thinking about
what language(s) try out for production code, given that when we look at
things like Objective Caml there are nice things like the Caml Humps at that shows a lot of recent work, and even a
new O'Caml O'Reilly book coming out (well, mostly a translation of the
French book, I think). The Haskell Communities and Activities Report is a
great start for showing some recent Haskell activity, and the Libraries
and Tools page at least separates out the unsupported GUI-libraries, and
there is certainly some good stuff for Haskell - for instance, we like
HUnit and Haddock, and I'm thinking that Parsec might come in handy.
Still, at our end we're wanting to stop and think:

I'm looking forward to reading the next communities and activities report.
In particular, I want to reassure myself that there is a lot of useful
actively-maintained stuff we can use, and more coming. Although I'm very
happy that the libraries and tools page exists at all, I wonder if there's
any possibility of the Haskell stuff being listed in a nice table too,
including information as when the latest release was and with what
versions of which Haskell compilers each thing was last found to be
working. Maybe there is some existing free software that can make such a
site easily maintained?

Obviously I'm not demanding that all you guys write lots of extra
libraries and tools for Haskell for free for me. (-: (Of course, stuff is
already being written and released by posters here.) Partly I'm suggesting
that, to avoid putting people off using Haskell, maybe the active and
currently-working things should be highlighted and easy to find relative
to the other things, right on the libraries and tools page, given that
currently there are a few broken links and projects that are practically
stalled, and partly I'm wanting to see what other people think about where
Haskell is now relative to things like O'Caml from the point of view of
commercial instead of research users. At least, am I right in thinking
that more industrial Haskell users are wanted, and that it's not meant to
be solely an interesting piece of research? To take an example, right now
we're not exactly sure what the recommended way is to have Java code call
our Haskell functions, for instance.

(Background: I have reasonable influence in a tiny company and would like
us to use Haskell to create some of our core products - I'm a big believer
that use of rich, strong, static typing and a functional style will bring
us benefits - at least, I'd like to exploit the fruits of programming
language research in recent decades. However, although I'm fairly
optimistic about Haskell's future, I've jumped the wrong way before, and
I'm wanting to make sure that the momentum in the Haskell community is in
the right direction. We would be very happy to contribute stuff ourselves
if we needed to to bring things the final few inches toward what we need,
as we're generally opensource fans, but we're too small to fund a whole
lot of general stuff right now.)

Apologies if this seems to be a reiteration of previous vocal worrying
I've been doing. (-: Really, I'm just hoping that some changes on the
libraries and tools page can help users of Haskell and encourage more
people to join the community - especially given that much of the legwork
is already being done by Claus anyway - and to help us be sure that
Haskell and its associated things is, strategically, a good technology for
us to rely on, from the point of view of there being a vibrant and growing
repository of useful libraries.

-- Mark