[Haskell-cafe] The future of purely functional user interfaces? (was "Why binding to existing widget toolkits doesn't make any sense")

Peter Verswyvelen bugfact at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 06:42:37 EST 2009

Haskell desperately needs something like Windows Presentation Foundation or
http://www.piccolo2d.org... (so no GUIs but ZUIs :) but then purely
I'm pretty sure when a good framework is made, the community would
contribute all kinds of widgets.

IMO currently no Haskell framework has made it into something of production
quality for creating purely functional user interfaces. Some research papers
have been written (Fudgets, Gadgets, Fruit, Yampa, Reactive, ...), and some
attempts have been made, but I guess nobody has written a large UI
application with any of these toolkits (maybe House [1] - on OS written in
Haskell that uses an updated Gadgets library - is the exception, but I
haven't looked at the details of it yet)

Maybe Yampa could be usable for building UIs - but I believe it has
scalability issues because it is fully pull based, although it seems work is
being done here [2]

Reactive should be more scalable, and maybe one day it will be stable enough
to build large interactive UIs (maybe together with Fieldtrip), but it seems
it will need some redesign [3]

Grapefruit also looks promising, as it combines arrows with push based

Other work [4] seems to indicate that arrows are too general for the
dataflow programming and co-monads are more suitable and hence might be
usable for interactive interfaces.

It would be nice to hear opinions about "purely functional user interfaces"
and its future.

Isn't it a bit of a lost battle if people can't create *real* and complex
user interfaces in Haskell without completely switching to an imperative
style of programming (GTK2HS, wxHaskell, etc)

Peter Verswyvelen

[1] http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~kennyg/house/
[2] http://www.citeulike.org/user/msakai/article/3813058
[4] http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/988

On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 10:01 PM, Achim Schneider <barsoap at web.de> wrote:

> John Lato <jwlato at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Achim Schneider wrote:
> > >
> > > So what's left of those TK's if we don't use their abstractions and
> > > replace them with Haskell? Drawing and layouting, that's what's
> > > left[3]. Both, IMNSHO, do not justify carrying around bloaty
> > > external dependencies, they're too trivial. They certainly don't
> > > justify using unsafePerformIO to hide foreign side effects and the
> > > headaches associated with it.
> > >
> > >
> > > So, if you don't mind, I'm going to stop trying to fit cubes into
> > > round holes and gonna use reactive and fieldtrip[4] to do things.
> > >
> >
> > Does this mean you're volunteering to create a fieldtrip-based toolkit
> > with widgets and layout?
> >
> Most likely, no. fieldtrip uses glut, which only supports one os-level
> window and is therefore borked for a considerable amount of stuff one
> wants a TK be able to do. It (currently) also doesn't support
> orthographic projection, which you need to properly position 2d. In
> the end, it's a small and great library for stuff you don't need for
> a TK, and is thus quite unsuited as a platform for one. Fieldtrip
> widgets are another thing, of course.
> I'm not volunteering for anything. I'm just hacking away on stuff and
> following some inspiration I had while I implemented a simplistic
> widget UI under J2ME, limited to what the game needed.
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