[Haskell-cafe] New release of the book Haskell Programming from first principles

Francesco Occhipinti f.occhipinti at gmail.com
Tue Jan 12 17:37:13 UTC 2016


I never wrote that i consider this book "a bad thing", that would not make
any sense. I expressively wrote the contrary in order to avoid
misunderstandings, but that was not enough. Let me state it clearly: this
book seems to have all the features to become a milestone for the Haskell
community, and a reference for future users. It is getting a lot of
interest and enthusiasm, and this is great!

While more and more people will approach Haskell starting from Chris'
book's pages, i hope that beginners will still be pointed to existing
Haskell resources maintained by the community, like i was in the past. I
was delighted by finding the quality and variety of knowledge in Haskell
wikis. I was pointed to papers, i have got used to be exposed to the bare
code of core libraries. I thought about the types and the source. I enjoyed
my journey through the often blamed existing Haskell documentation, and i
hope that people will keep getting lost into it and be passionate about it.

Here are some important values i see in the docs coming from the community:

* they are communitary - for me this is invaluable. they are an effort we
do together, the result of a complex process. we can all try to contribute
if we are not satisfied, and beginner's input is precious
* they are public, free, not affiliated with any specific company
* they  are succinct - this always motivated me. i can read and forget 100
explanations about monads, but the type class in itself will always
challenge me for its simplicity. one could write the core formulae in a
small notebook and keep studying on it for weeks
* they are open ended and diverse - this leaves room for criticism and
evolution. often, the Haskell guide for something is a paper about the
theory of it

I think that i received a lot studying Haskell through this
community-contributed material, i just want that we keep considering this a
viable path, even after the valuable work from Chris will become the common
ground for most of us. I want to avoid that in the future, when somebody
comes to #haskell with a question, the easy answer would be "go read the
1000 pages and then we can chat".

Anyway, from the feedback i have got i realise that there are a lot of
strong feelings about this, more than i expected. What moves around this
book are all good news for the Haskell community, and i admire how Chris
and Julie were able to convey so much content and experience through it. I
just wanted to express a different path to learning. I am sorry if my few
words, a bit too abstract and cold in their tone, were preceived as
gratuitous criticism.

Francesco Occhipinti

2016-01-12 13:23 GMT+01:00 Romain Gérard <haskell at erebe.eu>:

> Hello,
> Can you explain your point a bit more ? How can more learning material can
> be a bad thing ?
> I have bought nearly every books regarding haskell but for now every
> single one fall into those 3 categories.
>    - *Outdated* -> Real World Haskell, Programming in Haskell
>    - *Too* *specific* -> Parallel and Concurrent Programming in Haskell,
>    Haskell Data Analysis Cookbook
>    - *Only* *for* *beginners* -> Learn you a haskell for great good, Thinking
>    Functionally with Haskell, Beginning Haskell: A Project-Based Approach
> I plan to buy "*Haskell Design Patterns*" and I have great hope for this
> one, but for now I think when learning haskell there is a missing step
> after being intermediate.
> My only good ressources to advance in haskell were the haskell wikibook
> (great stuff) <https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Haskell>, and blogposts
> where you can find more about traversable, foldable, generics, Free monads,
> GADTS, Template Haskells, comonads, lens, how to handle exceptions, ...
> Those topics are not uncomonn in daily haskell programming, but are not
> present in learning materials. If this book can cover all of this, I will
> gladly accept it as a classical to have in your bookshelf.
> As I am not very sure about why you are not entousiastics about this one,
> can you please explain how this book approch differs from the others and
> why it will impact negatively the actual ecosystem ?
> Regards,
> Romain
> Le 2016-01-12 11:28, Francesco Occhipinti a écrit :
> Hello Chris and thanks for your effort in making Haskell more
> understandable to everyone. I hope that you will be open to an opinion
> which differs from the many enthusiastic comments you usually receive.
> I do not want to sound grumpy, but i need to say that i am not ecstatic
> about the idea of this book, so i hope that it will not become a sort of
> mandatory reference for the Haskell community.
> I do not consider the book and its research effort a bad thing, but i
> value existing resources and processes used by the Haskell community to
> document the language and the related theory. I don't think that getting
> into the details is useful here, i just want to mention that someone might
> be not interested in this project, and i hope that the choice not to read
> the book will be respected in all Haskell's public fora.
> I sincerely hope not to start a flame. You do not have to convince me, i
> might buy the book tomorrow. I just want to mention the risk to consider
> this very extensive and comprehensive work as the *only* or the *best* way
> to learn Haskell. This would take some precious diversity away from us.
> I hope that most people will understand the spirit of this remark.
> Cheers,
> Francesco Occhipinti
> 2016-01-11 8:45 GMT+01:00 Christopher Allen <cma at bitemyapp.com>:
>> I'd been reticent in the past to announce the book on the mailing list,
>> but it's pretty comprehensive now and we have enough ecstatic readers
>> learning Haskell with it that I thought I'd share what we've been up to.
>> We're writing this Haskell book (http://haskellbook.com/) because many
>> have found learning Haskell to be difficult and it doesn't have to be. We
>> have a strong focus on writing it to be a book for learning and teaching -
>> it's not just a reference or review of topics. Particularly, we strive to
>> make the book suitable for self-learners. We think Haskell is a really nice
>> language and learning Haskell should be as nice as using it is.
>> The new release puts the book at 26 chapters and 1,156 pages. You can
>> track our progress here: http://haskellbook.com/progress.html
>> The latest release included parser combinators, composing types, and
>> monad transformers.
>> My coauthor Julie Moronuki has never programmed before learning Haskell
>> to work with me on this book. She has written about using the book to teach
>> her 10 year old son as well -
>> https://superginbaby.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/teaching-haskell-to-a-10-year-old-day-1/
>> Julie has also written about learning Haskell more generally -
>> https://superginbaby.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/learning-haskell-the-hard-way/
>> If you've been reading the book, please speak up and share your thoughts.
>> We have some reader feedback on the site at
>> http://haskellbook.com/feedback.html
>> We'll be looking for a press to do a print run of the book soon as it's
>> about 80% done. If anyone has any pointers or recommendations on whom to
>> work with, particularly university presses, please email me.
>> Cheers everyone,
>> Chris Allen
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