[Haskell-cafe] Line noise

Philippa Cowderoy flippa at flippac.org
Sun Sep 21 14:52:19 EDT 2008

On Sun, 21 Sep 2008, Andrew Coppin wrote:

> Actually, none of these things were mentioned. The things people have
> *actually* complained to me about are:
> - Haskell expressions are difficult to parse.

This is partly an "it's not braces, semicolons and function(application)" 
complaint, though not entirely.

> - Several standard library elements have unhelpful names such as "elem", "Eq"
> and "fst". (My favourite has to be "Ix". I mean, WTH?)

> - Several standard library functions have names which clash badly with the
> usual meanings of those names - e.g., "break", "return", "id".

For this one, I'm inclined to say "welcome to a new paradigm". Though 
having to tell my dad briefly that do isn't a loop construct was odd for a 

> - Variable names such as "x" and "f" aren't fabulously helpful to lost
> programmers trying to find their way.

So don't use them? Though I think f in particular has its place in higher 
order functions.

> The people I
> spoke to also seemed pretty confused about the usage of (.) and ($), even
> after I explained it a few times. Several people also voiced being puzzled
> about Haskell's layout rules.

Pointless style is definitely newbie-unfriendly. I can understand being 
puzzled by layout: ultimately I had to go read the description in the 
Report to be happy.

> I'm not sure what we *do* with all this data, but I found it interesting so I
> thought I'd share. ;-) I've spent the last few years trying to convert a few
> people to The Haskell Way(tm), but so far I haven't succeeded in the
> slightest. I just get yelled at for pointing white noise. Heh. Oh well!

Have you tried showing people code that's been syntax highlighted? It's 
likely to help, especially with things like "does function application 
bind tighter?" where the highlighting is something of a cue. So is marking 
out = as important!

Btw, (> x) reads much more easily as a predicate to most people than (x 

flippa at flippac.org

Sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire. Most
of the time you just get burnt worse though.

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