[Haskell-cafe] [ANN] cartel - specify Cabal files using Haskell

Omari Norman omari at smileystation.com
Wed May 28 01:55:59 UTC 2014

The Cabal file format works very well for small projects. However, in big
projects with a library, many executables, and test suites, some
irritations emerge. You need to specify dependencies in multiple places,
leading to redundancy. You also have to manually add in new modules, make
sure you list all modules (a real pain with executables, as problems may
arise only after you build a distribution tarball), and update your module
lists when you refactor.

Specifying your Cabal files in Haskell rather than in a plain-text file
format helps deal with a lot of these problems. You have the full power of
Haskell to make definitions in one place and then reuse them. You can also
dynamically read a tree of modules and use the result, thus avoiding the
need to manually update your module lists.

A disadvantage to Cartel is that it can be a bit more verbose than a
vanilla Cabal file. In addition, you also have to remember to generate the
new Cabal file whenever you change the script that generates your Cabal

Cabal already has an AST that it uses. Cartel could, perhaps, have re-used
these structures. Cartel does not do this for three reasons. First, the
Cabal API is a bit untidy, partially because it has to do things that
Cartel doesn't have to worry about, but also because the comments in the
Cabal modules themselves indicate that the whole thing could use a
refactoring. Second, the Cabal developers make no commitment to keep that
API stable. Third, the Cartel API tries only to replicate format of the
plain-text Cabal file, which will be much more stable than the Cabal API.




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