[Haskell-cafe] Re: about Haskell code written to be "too smart"

Achim Schneider barsoap at web.de
Wed Mar 25 08:40:16 EDT 2009

"Alberto G. Corona " <agocorona at gmail.com> wrote:

> However, reusability of source code and maintainability has never
> been taken seriously by haskell programmers, simply because there are
> no industrial projects in Haskell with dozens of people with
> different skills that come and go.
Now that's a claim.

In the sense that I don't do commercial haskell coding, but know what
maintainability is, anyway: I've maintained everything from utterly
atrocious to mindboggingly elegant java code for a living. I can tell
you with 110% confidence that maintainability is about composibility,
_on_every_level_: Not just on statement-level. Otherwise, I wouldn't
have cussed that much. Curiously enough, as soon as the code
didn't make you whince, it was easily maintainable. This is closely
related to Linus' observation that good [imperative] code is
data-structure centred, and Greenspun's Tenth Rule.

With Haskell, there's finally a language that makes large-scale changes
as easy as small-scale changes without having to resort to implement an
interpreter for a functional language. As the position of changes tends
to travel upwards in a bottom-up approach and small-scale changes are
easy to pull off (you already understand what you need to do since
otherwise you wouldn't have identified the need for a small-scale
change and continued to add onion layers), caring about editability on
function level just doesn't pay off.

That's why I don't care whether or not I have to re-write a whole
function to change it: If it's going to change, which isn't all that
likely, I can cope with renaming it and write another say 160
characters directly below it. Adding a proper quickcheck property (if
it didn't exist, yet, or the semantics changed) is usually more work:
You don't only need to get the preposition right, but also the test
case generator.

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