[Haskell-cafe] Poll & plea: State of GUI & graphics libraries in Haskell

Conal Elliott conal at conal.net
Fri Sep 27 05:32:18 CEST 2013

I'm polling to see whether there are will and expertise to reboot graphics
and GUIs work in Haskell. I miss working on functional graphics and GUIs in
Haskell, as I've been blocked for several years (eight?) due to the absence
of low-level foundation libraries having the following properties:

* cross-platform,
* easily buildable,
* GHCi-friendly, and
* OpenGL-compatible.

The last several times I tried Gtk2hs, I was unable to compile it on my
Mac. Years ago when I was able to compile, the GUIs looked and interacted
like a Linux app, which made them awkward and upleasant to use. wxHaskell
(whose API and visual appearance I prefered) has for years been
incompatible with GHCi, in that the second time I open a top-level window,
the host process (GHCi) dies abruptly. Since my GUI & graphics programs are
often one-liners, and I tend to experiment a lot, using a full compilation
greatly thwarts my flow. For many years, I've thought that the situation
would eventually improve, since I'm far from the only person who wants GUIs
or graphics from Haskell.

About three years ago, I built a modern replacement of my old Pan and
Vertigo systems (optimized high-level functional graphics in 2D and 3D),
generating screamingly fast GPU rendering code. I'd love to share it with
the community, but I'm unable to use it even myself.

Two questions:

* Am I mistaken about the current status? I.e., is there a solution for
Haskell GUI & graphics programming that satisfies the properties I'm
looking for (cross-platform, easily buildable, GHCi-friendly, and
* Are there people willing and able to fix this situation? My own
contributions would be to test and to share high-level composable and
efficient GUI and graphics libraries on top of a working foundation.

Looking forward to replies. Thanks,

-- Conal
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