[Haskell-cafe] First steps in Haskell

Daniel Carrera daniel.carrera at zmsl.com
Mon Dec 19 06:13:36 EST 2005

Wolfgang Jeltsch wrote:
> The point is that the visitor should know that he/she might need a document 
> about GHCi if he/she wants to use GHCi.  A introductionary document about 
> Haskell might not explain a specific Haskell system.  If you read a book 
> which is about C++ in general, it won't tell you how to use the GNU C++ 
> compiler or Microsoft Visual C++.

I just Googled for "Introduction to C". The first link was:


It includes a brief section on both MS Visual C++ and the Unix CC.

Maybe I've just been lucky in reading all the right tutorials until now 
:) but every time I learn a new language, the intro tutorial tells me 
how to get Hello World running. I have never looked for a compiler 
tutorial. I guess that Haskell is unique among interpreted languages in 
that there are two compilers and they work different.

I wouldn't expect a huge and elaborate description of Hugs or GHCI on a 
tutorial. I'd expect a brief "If you have Hugs do xyz and if you have 
GHC do abc".

> If you know that you need some GHC(i) documentation, it shouldn't be much of a 
> problem to find it.

But you see, I didn't. I thought I needed "Haskell" documentation, so 
that's what I looked for.

> At least, the site currently points to the GHC homepage.

Yes. I thought it was for the purpose of installing it. Since I 
installed it with 'apt-get install ghc' I didn't think to click there.

>>I find some usability problems in the documentation section.
> Which documentation section do you mean?

The web page titled "Learning Haskell".

> Maybe, some barriers could be lowered but I don't think that the barriers are 
> currently "very high".  What do others think?

To be fair, the barriers are not as high as they could be. For example, 
the Haskell community is friendly and helpful and that's a low barrier. 
It took no time between my posting a question and getting a good answer. 
So in the end it took me no more than a day to write Hello World.

I do suggest that the "Learning Haskell" page could be improved with a 
brief (couple of paragraph) tutorial to get someone through Hello world. 
Or perhaps update the tutorials to say that. I wrote a suggestion on 
another post.

>>* There's no way for a new user to figure out how to successfully run
>>the simplest Haskell program.
> There is!  "The Hugs 98 User's Guide" and "The GHC User's Guide".

Okay, I stand corrected. I rephrase the concern as "The links that say 
Learn Haskell don't show you how to run a simple Haskell program".

>>* The first tutorial listed requires the user to give up some personal
>>information before getting the tutorial.
> That's bad, of course.
>>These are very significant barriers.
> Concerning the latter one, I agree with you.


>>But the barriers that exist are a problem because they hit the person who is
>>trying to take the very very first step. If you can make that *fist* step
>>easier, more people will take it. 
> What do you mean with "*fist* step"? :-) :-)

Heh... typing accuracy is over-rated.

      /\/`) http://oooauthors.org
     /\/_/  http://opendocumentfellowship.org
    \/_/    I am not over-weight, I am under-tall.

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