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

John Lato jwlato at gmail.com
Fri Sep 27 08:03:16 CEST 2013

Hi Conal,

If there is a system like you describe, I'm not aware of it.  Part of the
problem is the state of the underlying C libraries:

gtk+ - possible, but suffers from the drawbacks you mention on OSX and is
reportedly difficult to install on windows
wx - somehow I've never been able to build this to my satisfaction on OSX
(meaning a 64-bit build with working wxHaskell)
QT - never tried this, but my impression is the Haskell-QT bindings are a
bit stale

FLTK is probably the surest approach, but it will definitely not look like
a native Mac app.  IMHO FLTK is hideously ugly on any system.  But it is
relatively easy to build.

How much windowing are you looking for?  Would GLFW be an acceptable
starting point?

John L.

On Fri, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:40 AM, Conrad Parker <conrad at metadecks.org>wrote:

> Hi Conal!
> Yes. I'd be very interested to help get Pan and Vertigo working. Do you
> have a repo somewhere?
> Conrad.
> On 27 September 2013 13:32, Conal Elliott <conal at conal.net> wrote:
>> 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
>> OpenGL-compatible)?
>> * 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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