[Haskell-cafe] CEF3 bindings and game dev in Haskell

MarLinn monkleyon at gmail.com
Thu Mar 9 23:53:51 UTC 2017

[Ack. Forgot to reply-to-list, and ran into the list's bad handling of 
gmail addresses again. So sorry for possible multi-posts.]

I agree that our GUI story is still bad.

But I don't understand what chromium has to do with either game dev or a 
good GUI story? If I want to write a real game, I use /SDL2/ bindings. 
If I want to write a website, I use something like /Yesod/. If I want to 
write browser games or "dynamic web sites", I throw JavaScript libraries 
at the walls, see what sticks, call it "modern coding", go to the liquor 
store and reconsider my life.

All joking aside, it's nice to see someone take a different path than 
usual, organization-wise. I do disagree on the technical path though. We 
already have a lot of bindings to several cross-platform frameworks and 
libraries, including QT, GTK, FLTK, and the aforementioned SDL2. But 
they suffer from impedance mismatch and lack of use and thus, community 
support. To solve that I would say what we need is a nice middle layer 
to translate functional thinking into framework models. We do have the 
/diagrams/ package for describing static diagrams in a functional way, 
but it largely lacks dynamic behavior. (There's some support for 
animations, but it doesn't fill me with confidence.) We also have 
several attempts at FRP libraries for dynamic behavior, but few 
interactions with bindings. What is still missing is something like a 
dynamic version of /diagrams/ that is based on one of these FRP 
libraries and that can work with one or several of the bindings as a 
back-end – possibly with a Haskell-side widget library. Possibly with 
css-like runtime styling And if we have that, yeah, we can add chromium 
bindings or whatever. Or write our own browser engine for fun. As far as 
I know there were several attempts but all fizzled out at some point.

My own favorite approach goes even further. I propose that many of the 
problems arise because the existing frameworks impose too many 
non-functional ideas, so the "purest" way to go forward would be a fresh 
framework on the basis of only /SDL/ and /reactive banana/. That might 
sound like overkill for a simple non-game GUI, but is it really if the 
alternative is a whole browser? And what's more, that approach could be 
pursued in a way that might be turned into the one mentioned above later on.

What these approaches need is not more c tools or more cross-platform 
shenanigans, but some ideas how to handle a complex dynamic tangle of 
widget trees in a generic, functional fashion. Which to me has the added 
benefit of sounding much more like "fun". So I'm still working on that 
second approach whenever I have some time, but like yours, my time is 

Be assured, I don't want to diminish your work, it's probably useful to 
a certain subset of programmers. What I'm disputing is just if it's the 
single best way forward.


On 2017-03-09 22:52, Maksymilian Owsianny wrote:
> Hey
> I'm interested in making gamedev in haskell more viable and one thing
> that I believe is missing in that part of the environment is a good
> GUI story. So I decided to create proper bindings to cef3, you can
> check out what I've done so far [here][1]. In this current version
> I basically took the work done by Daniel Austin [here][2] split it
> into parts to prevent my machine from dying from lack of memory and
> packed it up with some nix glue for convenient usage. Now all this
> doesn't look like much but it sill took me much more time then I'm
> willing to admit in public. That's one of the eternal truths of
> software development, that everything always takes an order of
> magnitude more time then you suspect it would.
> Anyway, what I would like to do here is add support for all platforms.
> Create some nice scripts that help with automatizing building,
> developing and deployment of code with this library for users.
> Possibly write a script that automatically generates bindings from
> c headers to bring this lib up to speed with the current version of
> cef. Write some proper guides on using this lib for creating game GUI
> or standalone desktop application. All of that is nice and well to
> wish for but it is quite a lot of frankly not very fun work. If I had
> to choose I would rather spend my time working on either something fun
> or something that pays the rent, so usually at this point I stop and
> walk away. But this time I decided to go about it differently, and ask
> for community support. I have set up a BountySource campaign [here][3]
> so I could focus on making this happen. Alternatively, if that's your
> thing, I have set up a bitcoin address [4].
> Depending on how well this campaign will go I'm also planing on
> creating a full 2D game engine... but yeah, that's in the future.
> So yeah, if you'd like to help me build this please support me.
> Thanks,
> Max.
> [1]:https://github.com/haskell-ui/cef3-raw
> [2]:https://github.com/fluffynukeit/bindings-cef3
> [3]:https://salt.bountysource.com/teams/haskell-ui
> [4]: 1LskxSUyLDLpMCBfUUnqcRT8mEFMW511Eq
> PS. I have also created a reddit thread for this proposalhere 
> <https://www.reddit.com/r/haskell/comments/5yi1b7/cef3_bindings_and_game_dev_in_haskell/>.
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