Haskell Communities Survey - Second Call for Contributions

C.Reinke C.Reinke@ukc.ac.uk
Mon, 15 Oct 2001 19:56:59 +0100

Dear Haskellers,

after the first rush of volunteers seems to have ebbed away, it is
probably time for a reminder. First, the good news:

We have just about enough topics covered to convince me that it makes
sense to go ahead. So the Haskell Communities page has moved to a more
permanent location at


and any further documents will appear there as well.

I even have the first reports coming in already (thanks very much!).
If everyone else could please send in their reports over the next two
weeks, i.e., before

  *** Monday, 29. October 2001 ***,

then I could try to edit everything together in the following week
(modulo my own deadlines..) and put out the first version of the
collective Haskell Communities Status Report early in November.

Simon Marlow sent a nice example of a (more frequent) report from the
FreeBSD community, which might give an idea of how a collection of
brief summaries can help to get and keep an overview of a field:


So far, so good. The not so good news is that there are still some
quite important areas uncovered, so 

  *** we are still looking for active Haskellers ***
  *** to write (and send to me) brief summaries. ***

Below, you'll find first a list of topics I would like to see covered,
then the list of topics for which we already have volunteers.

If you think you can help out with information on one or more of the
outstanding topics, please let me know. If you have the information,
but are unsure about what would be a useful summary for the report, 
get in touch with me and we'll see what we can do.


------------------------------------ contacts still needed:

------------ core

* Haskell Central
  changes over the last year, plans for the next few months?

* Hugs
  often feared to be dying, but kept very much alive by enthusiasts;
  Currently, OGI and other enthusiastic volunteers are supporting.
  Any ideas about the future? What about the new release (when, what)?

* nhc98
  lots of new work there, though much of it will probably
  be covered by Olaf's report on tracing and debugging?

!! for all implementations, it would be nice to know the
!! position and status regarding recent extensions that 
!! need support to be portable, such as FFI, hierarchical 
!! modules namespace, portable libraries, GUI API & libraries.

------------ others

* non-sequential Haskell
  This is an important and active area, and we seem to have lots
  of projects there. Ideally, someone in the field could give an
  overview of the state-of-the-art, but I would also be happy to
  get summaries from individual projects (we've got Concurrent
  Haskell, but nothing else yet; what about GPH, port-based 
  distributed Haskell, ..?).

  [and why is there no dedicated mailing-list for the collection
   of non-sequential Haskell projects?]

* meta programming support for Haskell
  Tim Sheard would like to start a project on a Haskell version of
  Meta ML. Any progress there? Meanwhile, there are a small number of
  Haskell parsers and pretty-printers around. But how complete are
  they, are they being kept up to date, what about language extensions?
  What about a standard AST format?  What about static analysis and
  type checking/inference? A standard interface to symbol table
  information? Partial evaluation for Haskell?-) 

  Reification/reflection (Bernard Pope and Lee Naish have done some
  work here in the context of declarative debugging)?  

  Why all the extra tools, btw? Could we not have a standard interface
  to the parsers, type checkers, symbol tables that exist in our
  Haskell implementations (as is the case for other respectable 

* lightweight modules for Haskell
  At this year's Haskell workshop, Mark Shields asked those interested
  to cooperate on this topic to contact him, mentioning that he was
  working on the topic. It would be useful to have an idea of the plans
  there.  Aha, I've just found a brand new paper on that, perhaps Mark 
  could give a brief summary of that and the implementation plans?-)

* Haskell libraries collection
  will that be covered in the report on hierarchical module
  namespaces or do we need a separate report? Simon?

* FFI tools
  Manuel will cover FFI language extensions and libraries,
  as well as his own C->Haskell, but what about the other tools 
  built on top of the FFI basis? What is the status of Greencard,
  Hdirect & co? What about all that recent talk about new Haskell
  to Java connections?-) 

  If anything is still (or newly) active: summaries&pointers, please!

* Documentation tools
  earlier this year, there was some work and discussion on this.
  Anyone willing to summarise the results?

* Applications
  Perhaps someone at Galois Connections could summarise their
  recent successes and immediate plans (I've heard lots of good
  news from that direction recently)?

  Haskell in hardware specification and verification?

* Formal basis
  The effective lack of a formal semantics for Haskell
  has been a constant source of embarrassment (functional
  languages: solid theoretical basis, effective reasoning
  about programs, ...;        Haskell: ???, ahem, oops).

  There seems to have been some progress recently, and it
  would be nice to hear more about all that. E.g., what
  state the work is in, what the immediate plans are, 
  where to get the (draft) deliverables, if any:

  - Karl-Filip Faxen, KTH Stockholm, has been working on a
    formalisation of Haskell's static semantics.
  - the Programmatica project at OGI, Oregon, has been 
    working on an implementation of Haskell's static semantics
    in Haskell; and had to ask for clarification of ambiguities
    in the ongoing revisions of the Haskell 98 language report.
  - Andrew Tolmach, OGI, has been working on a formal
    specification of GHC's version of core Haskell, the subset
    into which full Haskell is translated for definition,
    compilation and optimisation.
  - the functional programming group at York has been working on
    operational semantics for Haskell to support their work on
    profiling and tracing, to enable reasoning about time 
    and space behaviour, and about execution traces.
  - .. other work in this area..?

------------------------------------ volunteers so far:

  Simon Peyton-Jones

Foreign function interface (language extensions & libraries)
  Manuel Chakravarty

Hierarchical module namespaces
  Simon Marlow

GUI library API
  new task force 
  [summarised by Manuel's recent announcement]

Concurrent Haskell
  Simon Marlow

Generic programming
  Johan Jeuring
  [report done!]

Tracing and debugging
  Olaf Chitil

  Simon Marlow

  Manuel Chakravarty

Functional Reactive Programming (at Yale)
  John Peterson