[Haskell-cafe] EclipseFP (Haskell IDE) 0.9.1 released

Thiago Arrais thiago.arrais at gmail.com
Wed Feb 1 12:58:49 EST 2006

2006/2/1, Graham Klyne <GK at ninebynine.org>:
> [I should say that I haven't yet actually tried this software, though I'd like
> to do so when I get some time.]

I really hope you find the time to do so. We would be glad to be
hearing from you again.

> One of the features of Haskell that I like is that it doesn't require lots of
> IDE support to write complex programs... the compact syntax and clean separation
> of concerns that can be achieved make it iasy enough to program using nothing
> more than a regular text editor, and no long wait for the development
> environment to start up.  I can imagine programming Haskell on a palm-top device.

Very interesting idea. One that I have thought of some time ago. I
wasn't thinking of Haskell, but Ruby instead. The idea is the same,
but that's another thread.

Every language experiences kind of a wave. At the time it is created,
there aren't many tools. The early adopters work most of the time
using a compiler/interpreter and a text editor. Then the wave starts
to form. This is the time the second generation of tools start to
flock. They are the test frameworks, the build automation tools and

At some point of the wave, the integrated environments appear. They
come, as the name says, to integrate the previous tools in an easy to
use and productive environment. Not that the previous tools were hard
to use or counter-productive, it is just that by integrating them much
time is saved from the details and the programmer can spend more time
on the creative and useful things only he can do.

> So is there a compelling feature in this Eclipse plugin that isn't easily
> achieved using simpler tools?

When we write an Eclipse plugin, we get a lot of things for free. Just
to cite one, there is already CVS integration support within every
Eclipse installation, which includes a very neat diff viewer. Adding
support for other version control systems isn't very hard. There are
plugins, for example, for Darcs and Subversion too.

Another very nice feature of the Eclipse platform is the refactoring
support. Wouldn't you like to refactor your Haskell code as easily as
selecting some context-menu item? Not to mention code assistance and
'go to declaration support' (click a module/function/whatever
reference and open its corresponding declaration). This has saved me a
lot of time when browsing code.

Of course, you need to write the code to tell the platform about your
language. That's what the EclipseFP team is trying to do.

There is one issue, though, that touches a lot of sensitive areas. The
Eclipse platform runs inside a Java Virtual Machine. Unfortunately,
there isn't currently a way to compile Haskell to the JVM (at least I
don't know of any, if someone knows, please let me know). This means
the IDE has to be written in Java, not in Haskell. That's the price we
are paying now. Writing a tool for a language in a different language.

2006/2/1, Duncan Coutts <duncan.coutts at worc.ox.ac.uk>:
> Fortunately using an IDE is optional.

And should always be.

An IDE should never be the only way to build things in any language.
And the existing IDEs should always be backward compatible with the
previous tools. They should not, for example, generate unreadable code
or use any vendor-specific format.


Thiago Arrais

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