Summary and call for discussion on text proposal

wren ng thornton wren at
Sun Nov 7 20:00:19 EST 2010

On 11/7/10 6:34 PM, Kathleen Fisher wrote:
> As a platform user and library developer, I'd rather that high-quality
> libraries like text be included in the platform
> than not, even if the naming conventions are slightly different.  It
> isn't that hard to learn the naming quirks of various libraries, and
> it means I can rely on the library being present in a much wider
> collection of haskell installations.    Given the distributed nature
> of the development of the Haskell libraries that go into the platform,
> they are never going to be as coherent as they might be if a small
> team of people wrote all of them.  But then, the scope would be much
> smaller and the usefulness correspondingly less.

For the record, I agree with this position regarding the meta-issue of 
naming conventions in the HP. While consistency is certainly a desirable 
goal, it is not the be-all and end-all of goals nor of naming issues.

The problem of handling textual information with String is notorious, 
both within the community and outside of it. The lack of a clear 
default(!) alternative to String ends up supporting the lingering rumors 
that functional programming can never be as efficient as 
$ALGOL_BASED_LANG, which ends up harming the community as a whole. The 
work on ByteString was an immense step forward and has been widely 
embraced and blessed, but its Word8-based organization means that it is 
not a complete solution to the problem of properly handling textual 
information. The text library offers such a solution and a high-quality 
solution at that; it is certainly on par with ByteString, IMO. I am of 
the opinion that adding text to the HP and encouraging it to be widely 
adopted is the only sensible solution to this larger issue of correct 
and efficient handling of textual information.

Could a different internal representation have been used? Sure. Would it 
be more performant? Unclear. Could the functions have been named 
differently? Sure. Would that be an unequivocal improvement? Unclear. Is 
it a high-quality library? Yes. Is it widely used? Yes. Does it fill a 
gap in the core libraries offered by HP? Yes. With 
being down I can't check what other questions are listed for what should 
be asked of new packages, but I think the answer to whether text should 
be included in HP is clear, and the uncertain possibility of coming up 
with more parsimonious names is not enough to dislodge the rest of the 
reasoning for its inclusion.

Live well,

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