[Haskell-cafe] Comments from OCaml Hacker Brian Hurt

Sebastian Sylvan sylvan at student.chalmers.se
Thu Jan 15 15:36:46 EST 2009

On Thu, Jan 15, 2009 at 7:46 PM, Andrew Coppin
<andrewcoppin at btinternet.com>wrote:

> The sad thing is, it's not actually complicated. The documentation just
> makes it seem like it is! :-(

This is so true for a heck of a lot of things. Existential quantification
being just one of them. Loads of things in Haskell have big powerful (but
scary) names which I really think intimidate people, the situation isn't
helped when a lot of tutorials use the theoretical basis for the construct
as a starting point, rather then actually describing the construct from the
perspective of a programmer first (see Monads).
Haskell really isn't that difficult compared to other languages, but people
still get the impression that you need to be a big brain on a stick to use
it, terminology is certainly part of the equation.

This doesn't mean that making up new words is always better, but we should
certainly strive to exploit any opportunity to clarify the issue and (this
means that haddock comments and language books/tutorials shouldn't refer to
academic papers first and foremost, but use common English and practical
examples to describe what's being used, and academic nerds can consult the
footnotes for their fill of papers containing pages of squiggly symbols!).

Sebastian Sylvan
UIN: 44640862
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