forwarded message on the importance of libraries

Isaac Jones ijones at
Mon Jan 23 19:54:23 EST 2006

Garry Hodgson writes:

"Isaac Jones" <isaac.jones at> wrote:

>     Haskell' will be a conservative refinement of Haskell 98. It will
>     be the work of this committee to adopt a set of language
>     extensions and modifications and to standardize *a new set of
>     libraries.* [emphasis mine]

excellent.  just please please please don't give short shrift to the libraries,
as this is what will make or break any effort to make haskell more
useful to the development community at large.

have a look at the set of libraries that come with python to get
an idea of a useful starting point.  i recognize that libs are not
academically sexy, and that this would require a great amount
of resources.  but starting with the notion that haskell should have
an equivalent set, and then giving ground where necessary, would
be far better than assuming a minimal set that users will augment.
because they won't.  they'll just use python.

>     This standard will reflect the realities of developing
>     practical applications in the Haskell language.

excellent.  play close attention to the "out of the box" experience.
if i can install it, run the examples, maybe have some useful
command among them, i'm far more likely to invest the effort
to go further.  make sure it plays well with others.  if i can write
code that i can use alongside my other code in other languages,
integrate into my build system, and distribute in running form
without requiring handstands from my users, i'm far more likely
to use it for actual work.

there's a threshold of effort required to adopt any new language.
the lower you can make that threshold, the more people will take
that first step.

note:  please don't anyone take this as a python flame, or an
invitation to start one.  i love python.  i love haskell.  i use python
on a daily basis because i can get stuff done with it.

Garry Hodgson, Technical Consultant, AT&T Labs

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