Haskell library infrastructure coordinator

Peter Simons simons@cryp.to
29 May 2003 00:12:18 +0200

Isaac Jones writes:

 >> Regular releases should be provided and, if possible, should come
 >> with of the compilers.

 > Whenever people mention altering or shipping something with the
 > compilers, red flags go up in my brain.

I didn't mean to emphasize this fact, sorry.

Whether the compiler ships the libraries, or whether your Linux
distribution ships the package, or whether you compile and install the
library yourself -- it is all the same to me. I mostly care for
_having_ this platform, first of all.

 > I would like to see a system flexible enough that:

 > - Authors can distribute libraries & tools from their web pages in a
 > way that makes it very easy for users to download and use them.

One idea would be to define an XML DTD for describing packages. Maybe
work has even been done towards that end already. A conforming
document could contain:

 - Short description of the package
 - Pointer (URI) to longer description / home page
 - License information
 - Author Contact Information
 - Pointer (URI) to the source code
 - Pointer (URI) to the binary package
 - Shell Script or Abstract Information how to build it

Then authors could simply provide this XML file and all we'd do is
maintain a list of them. From this list, the index on haskell.org
could be generated and you could set a package system on top of it,
which can download tar.gz archives, check-out CVS repositories, etc.,
and start the build process.

 > - Packagers for various OSs have a sane way to create packages.

Building binary packages is a whole new world in terms of complexity,
and it is a quality assurance nightmare.

Also, for _any_ binary package to be useful, it must be integrated
with the packet manager of your Linux/FreeBSD/Apple OS X system. We
could provide RPMs for starters, but that's only a fraction of the

IMHO binary packages should be left to the distributors; the Haskell
community should rather provide source code.

 > And more optionally:
 > - A central repository of useful Haskell libraries can be maintained
 > in a way that blends the best of cathedral & bazaar.

Well, I have to admit: For me, the whole process starts _here_. I
think we should begin small and let the system evolve.

Again, I refer to boost.org. The project is doing exactly what I
proposed, and it has lifted the C++ language to another level. They
have practically taken over the language and library development for
the new C++ Standard there! So the idea can't be that bad after all.