[Haskell-cafe] New type of expressions containing (error ...) includes noisy implicit parameter

Christopher Allen cma at bitemyapp.com
Sat Feb 13 08:50:55 UTC 2016

Prelude> let myList = [1, 2, 3 :: Integer]
Prelude> let myList' = myList ++ undefined
Prelude> :t myList
myList :: [Integer]
Prelude> :t myList'
myList' :: (?callStack::GHC.Stack.Types.CallStack) => [Integer]

This is on by default and insofar as I've been able to try, it's avoidable
in a default GHCi 8.0 REPL session. I'm glad I caught this before our book
goes to print in a couple months. We'd managed to avoid talking about
implicit parameters in 1,100+ pages of book but now we're forced to
acknowledge their existence in the 4th of 32 chapters.

This slipped past the radar more stealthily than the earlier stages of BBP
did for 7.10. I was hearing about BBP on the GHC Trac pretty early on for
months on end. Was the thinking that people still used implicit parameters
for anything or taught them? On the one hand, this is a nice change and
something I personally attempted (and failed) to make easier in GHC 7.10.
The implementation making the types noisy rankles and didn't seem necessary
when I investigated it between 7.8 and 7.10.

Could you warn us when (educationally relevant?) stuff like this is coming
down the pipe before the RC please? Ideally during the design phase. I
think this was discussed as part of FTP to avoid future debacles.

This isn't just a pedagogical problem, this is a UX problem. The users
don't _care_ that call stack information is being carried around. Why would
they? It happens without any mention in the types in almost every other
programming language.

We checked after the previous thread where ($) occurred in the book. ($) is
in the second chapter of the book, which is the first chapter of Haskell
code. Now we have to hand-wave something completely impossible for them to
understand (chapter 2 is expressions, types are chapter 5) or edit ($) out
of the book until they can understand it. We can't write it completely out
of the book because ($) gets used all over the place and we don't want
encountering it to throw them off.

--- Chris Allen
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