[Haskell-cafe] Opinion about JHC

John Meacham john at repetae.net
Wed Nov 11 03:37:59 EST 2009

On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 07:41:54PM -0800, Philippos Apolinarius wrote:
> I discovered a Haskell compiler that generates very small and fast
> code. In fact, it beats Clean. It has the following properties:

Excellent. that was my goal ;)

> 1 --- One can cross-compile programs easily. For instance, here is how I generated code for Windows:
> jhc --cross -mwin32 genetic.hs -o genetic

Yup. This was a major goal. compiling for iPhones and embedded arches is
just as easy assuming you have a gcc toolchain set up. (at least with
the hacked iPhone SDK.. I have never tried it with the official one)

> 2 -- It seems to be quite complete.
> 3 -- However, it often compiles a file, but the program fails to run.
> I have the following questions about it:
> 1 -- How active is the team who is writing the JHC compiler?

Hi, I am the main contributor, but others are welcome and several have
made signifigant contributions. Development tends to be spurty. A lot of
work will get done in a short amount of time, this generally corresponds
to when an external contributor gets involved and the back and forth
helps stimulate patches on my part to complement theirs.

Although I have not been able to devote a lot of my time to jhc in the
past, hopefully this will change in the not to distant future and I will
be able to work on it full time. 

> 2 -- Is it complete Haskell? The author claims that it is; it compiled
> all programs that I wrote, but that does not mean much, because my
> programs are quite simple.

It does Haskell 98 and several extensions, which is pretty much what GHC
does. However, it does not implement the same set of extensions as GHC
so this causes issues as a lot of people use GHC extensions extensively. 

I plan on supporting all of Haskell' of course, and the popular GHC
extensions to help compatibility. Not all are implemented. 

> 3 -- Why the Haskell community almost never talks about JHC?

Part of it is that I am not very good at advocacy. I don't always
post announcements on the main haskell lists figuring the interested
parties are on the jhc list already. I do try to make jhc good, fast,
and usable, I always hoped someone better at advocacy than me would join
the project :) In truth, I think the spurty nature of development also
affects this, the list will be quite for a long time with a flurry of
development lasting a few weeks occasionally inspiring some discussion
in the other groups.

In any case, I am glad you liked what you found! please join the mailing
list for jhc if you are interested in its development or using it.


John Meacham - ⑆repetae.net⑆john⑈ - http://notanumber.net/

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