[Haskell-cafe] New Cabal FAQ

Duane Johnson duane.johnson at gmail.com
Sat Mar 21 18:15:52 EDT 2009

As a new Haskell user, I have to heartily agree about the sign-posts.   
Cabal is a superb, easy-to-use command-line tool for Haskell package  
management, but browsing various "getting started with Haskell" pages  
didn't lead me to clear instructions that cabal exists and that it is  
really important to install.

In addition, may I suggest that the very first thing under Quick Links  
at http://haskell.org/cabal/ should be the following:

	Get Cabal

Currently, the first link is "How to install a Cabal package" which  
was quite confusing for me as a new user, since I knew I wanted the  
"cabal" command on my system and that getting it is a prerequisite to  
installing cabal packages.

Next, in a round-about manner, the link sends the user to http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/Cabal/How_to_install_a_Cabal_package 
  which is fairly dense reading considering that the user is just  
trying to get cabal.  At the bottom of the third paragraph of that  
page, it links to http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/Cabal-Install.  The  
Cabal-Install page itself provides an introduction paragraph stating  
that there exists a "caball-install" package which sounds enticing--- 
but wait, is it a package?  Doesn't that mean I need cabal to install  
cabal-install?  What's going on here

Strangely, the "Usage" section is listed before the "Installation"  
section which further confounded me until I read everything carefully.

So in retrospect, I would have very much appreciated something like  
this (my blog entry to future Haskellers).  Perhaps we could create  
the "Get Cabal" page and split it down the middle, one side for  
Windows and one side for Mac OS X / Linux / Unix.  It should be very  
minimal and have all of the necessary steps first with commentary  
later in case things go wrong or the visitor decides to return for  

It also might be a good idea to use the cabal-specific pages on the  
wiki to redirect the user to the official cabal page where the  
official instructions reside since they show up in Google searches

Duane Johnson

On Mar 21, 2009, at 3:44 PM, Duncan Coutts wrote:

> Hi all,
> I should have done this ages ago but there's now a Cabal FAQ on the
> Cabal website:
> http://haskell.org/cabal/FAQ.html
> It's not linked in yet, I'm looking for feedback and patches. The  
> Cabal
> website is now maintained in darcs so it's easy to send in
> contributions:
> darcs get http://haskell.org/cabal/
> For new pages like the FAQ I've been using markdown via pandoc. If
> appropriate we can migrate old pages to use that too.
> The main Cabal home page needs some love. We should have the
> cabal-install download directly on the front page. We should have  
> quick
> intro tutorials for using the cabal command line program to install
> packages. There's lots of good material in the user guide but it is  
> not
> well sign-posted.
> Duncan
> _______________________________________________
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> Haskell-Cafe at haskell.org
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