[Haskell-cafe] Re: First steps in Haskell

Bayley, Alistair Alistair_Bayley at ldn.invesco.com
Tue Dec 20 05:13:50 EST 2005

> From: haskell-cafe-bounces at haskell.org 
> [mailto:haskell-cafe-bounces at haskell.org] On Behalf Of Paul Moore
> I suspect that the reference documentation is fine, and the tutorials
> are great, given what they are trying to do. But there is scope for a
> very prominent "Getting going" document. Daniel's "40-second intro to
> Haskell" looks good. Expand it a little with a few lines showing tow
> to build and compile a "Hello, world" program in GHC and Hugs (with a
> disclaimer that the code itself is magic for now, you'll understand
> when you read about monads and the IO monad) to help people who need
> to get over the "but how do I write a *program*" hump, and you're
> pretty much there.

For someone getting started, in IMO the Learning Haskell page has too
much stuff on it. The total beginner doesn't have the knowledge they
need to decide which implementation to install, which tutorial to read,
or which textbook to buy. At the risk of alienating some tutorials and
implementations, we ought to pick one of each and say "here, start with
these". There's a balance to be struck between being fair to all
resource producers (be it implementation, textbook, tutorial, or
reference), and being as easy as possible for someone to get started,
and I think the needle is currently too far over to the "fair" side of
the scale.

There should be a "getting started" page which says:
 - download and install this interpreter (Hugs or GHCi)
 - run it, type these expressions, and see the results
 - create a HelloWorld program, compile and execute.
 - now start the following tutorial... (BTW, the link to Hal Daume's
tutorial from the Learning page needs fixing)

As an example (checking out the competition), the Ruby community have a
good free book. The book is fairly easy to find from the ruby-lang.org
homepage, although it could be more prominent. The preface contains a
brief tutorial for working with the interpreter (how to build & install,
the REPL, and a Hello World program):

And there's this interesting site, which demos a interpreter running in
your browser (although it really seems to be showcasing some AJAX-ish
javascript libraries):

The Ruby community have put quite a bit of effort into easing beginners
into the langauge and tools.

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