[Haskell-cafe] Julia and Charts on Mac

Ben Gamari ben at smart-cactus.org
Mon Dec 1 17:05:08 UTC 2014

Dominic Steinitz <dominic at steinitz.org> writes:

> I just had an interesting experience installing the Julia charts
> package (Gadfly based on ggplot) on my Mac which I thought I would
> share as I know I and other folk have had trouble getting diagrams /
> Cairo to work on Macs.
I agree that the current cairo situation could be improved. The fact that 
gtk2hs can't properly depend upon gtk2hs-buildtools means that nearly
anyone who needs to needs to install any Cairo-based package with
Cabal has at very least one non-trivial hoop to jump through. In my
experience this is often only the first of several.

This has always perplexed me as Cairo isn't glib-based, unlike the other
members of the gtk2hs family. Binding to Cairo should (as far as I know)
be no harder than binding to any other pure C library. It seems like the
situation could be improved substantially by simply splitting cairo out
of gtk2hs, using standard FFI code generation tools (bindings-dsl works
pretty well in my experience, although plain hsc2hs is also acceptable),
and simplifying its build system.

That being said, part of me thinks that the days of Cairo being dominant
means of drawing are numbered. Diagrams can produce SVG without any help
From Cairo and Chart can now use diagrams as its backend. I would hope
that installation of pure Haskell libraries would be no harder than
Julia's process.

The only reason I can think of why this wouldn't be the case is Cabal
hell. While Julia may not suffer from package-hell yet (due to the young
age and batteries-included nature of the distribution) they will
inevitably need to deal with it at some point.

> It installs homebrew and then all the required packages from its own
> repo (not sure what the homebrew terminology is for this - possibly a
> brewery?) so presumably guaranteeing that the installation is
> consistent and “just works”. I must say I was a bit surprised (I think
> I would have liked it to tell me what it was about to do) but it was
> entirely painless and I drew my first chart after less than 5 minutes.
Sounds like quite a pleasant process. It's a shame there isn't more
community interest in maintaining a Haskell homebrew repository. It
seems like this could substantially improve the OS X support story.

> PS I am not sure that haskell-cafe is the right list to share this on
> but as we don’t have a mailing list for numerical stuff or mac
> stuff...

I appreciated the post.


- Ben

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