[Haskell-cafe] Writing "Haskell For Dummies Or At Least For People Who Feel Like Dummies When They See The Word 'Monad'"

Nicolas Frisby nicolas.frisby at gmail.com
Mon Dec 11 14:42:41 EST 2006

I have taken the liberty to read into the definition of "practical
Haskell;" if I'm off target let me know so I can tweak my claims to
fit whatever it is I thought I was discussing ;).

Two cents:

1) This wouldn't be the first book introducing functional programming
to imperative programmers. It would seem wise to investigate existing
literature and see how the "good ones" handled that: which examples,
when to introduce what, etc. The purity issue probably will be a
novelty to a Haskell book though.

2) This wouldn't be the first book introducing Haskell to functional
programmers. It would seem wise to investigate existing literature...

I've read (and heard) a lot of claims that the existing "learn
Haskell" books don't teach you "real Haskell." I believe it's because
the existing books tackle both 1 and 2 above, leaving no room for

3) This would be the first book introducing the nuances of large
systems development in Haskell to Haskell programmers. Explaining well
various monads (e.g. how to use mtl), or other things necessary for
"practical Haskell" (e.g. ByteString, database interface, web app,
parsing, and many other systems libraries), requires of the audience a
rather thorough understanding of Haskell's type system (MPTC and other
extensions for mirth).

In summary:

If this is to be a reasonably sized book, then I think it must assume
some working knowledge of Haskell. There are a number of good books to
learn the basics, but there doesn't seem to be a standard "read this
book for Haskell systems development". Eschew the basics to make room
for the good stuff.

If this is not to be a reasonably sized book (i.e. it will go from
knowing Haskell 0% all the way to writing "real world programs"), then
I think the good existing literature should be the inspiration for the
"learn Haskell" section. I love the analogies as much as the next
programming languages researcher, but I think introducing Haskell in
text has been done and done well--it doesn't need a new approach. So
don't reinvent the "learn Haskell" text; that way you can spend time
on the good stuff.


ps - I'd be happy to participate in varying degrees with any
collaborative effort.

On 12/11/06, Kirsten Chevalier <catamorphism at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/11/06, Matt Revelle <mrevelle at gmail.com> wrote:
> > What do you mean by "real publisher"?  As long as the quality of the
> > final product is good, does it really matter what publishing company
> > has their name stamped on it?
> >
> It matters to me; if I'm going to put work into this, then that's what
> I want the result to be. I'm happy, of course, for projects that I am
> not involved in to use whatever publishing mechanisms that the people
> involved in those projects prefer.
> If you want to help with the writing project that I have in mind, then
> discuss that on the list. If you want to start another writing project
> whose primary goal is to produce an open-content, electronic book,
> then announce that on the list too. If you want to debate the merits
> of open-content versus traditional publishing, well, I'd love to have
> that debate too, but this list probably isn't the right forum for
> that.
> Cheers,
> Kirsten
> --
> Kirsten Chevalier* chevalier at alum.wellesley.edu *Often in error, never in doubt
> "There are many places in computer science where it's actually helpful to
> procrastinate." -- Eric Brewer
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