[Haskell-cafe] Proposal for a first tutorial.

Hal Daume III hdaume at ISI.EDU
Tue Dec 20 09:54:27 EST 2005

> > Daniel -- can you tell me what was missing from YAHT that wasn't 
> > sufficient for starting to use Haskell?  It was really intended to solve 
> > these problems, at least partially, so if it's missing out, I'd like to 
> > fix it!
> I haven't read it. I refuse to give out personal information to read a 
> tutorial.

I don't mean to be obnoxious, but given:

> This is a real problem for Haskell. I expect that a lot of people try 
> Haskell and give up because they can't even write the simplest function. 


> Thank you. I did find that page, and it was very easy to find. The 
> problem is that the content of that page, and its links, didn't show me 
> how to write a Haskell program (like you did).


> Well, I tried all three (Hugs, GHCI, GHC). The problem is that the 
> tutorials I found didn't tell me how to run a Haskell program once it 
> was written.


> Any of the following would be an apt solution:
> 1) Update the tutorials linked to tell the user how to run a program.


> You see, as a site visitor, I have to assume that the tutorials you are 
> giving me are the ones you expect I should read.


> There's no way for a new user to figure out how to successfully run 
> the simplest Haskell program.


> I just Googled for "Introduction to C". The first link was:
>    http://www.le.ac.uk/cc/tutorials/c/
> It includes a brief section on both MS Visual C++ and the Unix CC.

The fifth link for "Haskell Tutorial" is the pdf version of YAHT.


> 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.


(Please feel free to skip down to </rant>)

It seems a bit unfair to say that there are no good ways of learning 
information about Haskell.  Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging my own tutorial, 
but that's because I think it's pretty good.  It also answers all of the 
questions you've posted to the list, I believe.  These sorts of questions 
come up *all the time*.  A quick perusal of the mailing list archives will 
show that.  This is part of the whole motivation for putting YAHT 
together: so all the nice Haskell people who do spend their time answering 
these questions repeatedly don't have to!

So basically what you're saying is: someone who wants to learn Haskell but
doesn't want to fill out a 10 second form can't find the information to do
so.  There's no requirement that the form be filled out correctly -- you
can enter whatever invalid information you want.  Also, as you can see
above, just searching for "Haskell Tutorial" will turn you up with a PDF
version freely.  If you spend another 30 seconds, you can find a version
translated into Portuguese or Chinese, if you prefer that.

I know your argument was that you should *have* to do that work, but it is
*your* choice not to fill out a silly little form that means nothing, and
if you don't want to do that, then you can find another way.  The tutorial
is mirrored like 100 times and it's not hard to find one of those.  The
amount of effort to find a non-formed version is <<<<< than the effort to
send lots of emails to the mailing list asking questions answered in the
first chapter.


But, yes, here's the solution:

  haskell.org people, please just link to the .pdf

I think this solution should please everyone.

 - Hal

p.s., I apologize for the rant.  Although I don't spend my time mailing on 
this list recently, I still read it regularly and have updated YAHT 
several times in the past year to improve it via user comments.  And 
everyone here has always been really friendly to me and other beginners, 
which is one of the many reasons why I like Haskell so much.  I just felt 
that the above quoted lines (among others) were a misrepresentation of the 
situation, and given that I put a non-trivial amount of effort into making 
the situation better, I got somewhat annoyed.

 Hal Daume III                                   | hdaume at isi.edu
 "Arrest this man, he talks in maths."           | www.isi.edu/~hdaume

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