[Haskell-cafe] libraries [was GUI haters]

aditya siram aditya.siram at gmail.com
Fri Apr 2 12:59:54 EDT 2010

Yes Haskell is not strong on the GUI end of things but have you
considered turning your desktop app into a web app? I've done this for
a few things and really enjoyed the process. Haskell's STM is what
makes this so nice.

Basically the you start a Haskell service on port <some-large-number>
and make AJAX calls to it from your web browser using a CGI script as
a go-between. In my case all data flows back and forth as JSON
objects. You could just as easily use XML.

For the front-end I used Qooxdoo [1] , an absolutely gorgeous
well-documented Javascript GUI framework but there are plenty to
choose from.

This has a couple of advantages, it encourages MVC by letting the
front-end take care of UI and the back-end does the logic and holds
state. It's easy to deploy- Javascript runs everywhere and so does
Haskell (the non-GUI parts anyway!). And it looks uniform across

The disadvantages include security (but you can always restrict users
to localhost), and performance (you probably don't want to visualize
gigabyte size datasets in your browser). Additionally you now need to
add and configure an extra piece of software, namely the web-server.
Also you now have to learn Javascript and add that to the list of
things the maintenance programmer has to worry about. But if you can
learn Haskell, Javascript shouldn't be an issue. I've found that none
of these disadvantages are really show-stoppers.


[1] http://qooxdoo.org/

On 4/2/10, gladstein at gladstein.com <gladstein at gladstein.com> wrote:
> As a working engineer, one of my greatest frustrations is my inability
> to use Haskell in the workplace. The unfortunate fact is that my media
> industry clients use mostly Windows, some Macs, and no linux except for
> servers. The core system works everywhere, but many contributed
> libraries don't. GUIs are the big showstopper.
> One of the reasons Java won out over Common Lisp is that it had huge
> libraries. Franz's libraries were superb but few in number. One diehard
> Lisp user converted his lab to Java because "Java gives you everything
> you want, for free."
> That languages are distinct from their libraries escapes a lot of
> people; they see each language as a package. I met a COBOL programmer
> recently (I'm not making this up) that was looking into Java. He didn't
> see how people could use it, he said, because it had "thousands of
> commands".
> I'll stop whining now.
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