GHC 7.10 will use Plan FTP

Simon Peyton Jones simonpj at
Mon Feb 23 22:20:10 UTC 2015

You will remember (see this email<>) that the Haskell community has been engaged in a debate about proposed changes to the Haskell Prelude, the Plan-List or Plan-FTP debate<>.   We decided to hold an open survey to get feedback from the community.  Simon Marlow and Simon PJ were asked to make a decision in the light of that feedback.  The survey closed on 21 Feb, so it's time to decide.
Bottom line: we recommend Plan FTP.
There are strong arguments in both directions.  For the record, our own personal instincts were both in the conservative, Plan List direction.  But the survey gave some pretty compelling feedback, and was far more unequivocal than we expected.
Some details

*       Over 800 people participated in the survey. That's a lot for an 11-day window. Many wrote several paragraphs of supporting information.  Thank you for participating so actively!

*       Overall, 82% of respondents were in favour of FTP, a 4:1 majority.  Simon and I found this level of unanimity quite surprising - and it made our task much easier.  We clearly under-estimated the Haskell community's appetite for absorbing change when they approve of the direction of travel.

*       Herbert helped us by doing a rough categorisation into hobbyist/non-hobbyist responses.

o   The first interesting fact is that there were a lot of non-hobbyist responses: in fact a majority (58%) of the responses were from non-hobbyists.  So increasingly people are using Haskell for real work.

o   The support for Plan FTP among hobbyists was overwhelming (over 87%).  But it was still very strong indeed among non-hobbyists (over 79%).

Caveat: time was short, so the hobby/non-hobby categorisation is extremely approximate.  But since the results are so unambiguous, even the crude results are helpful.

*       We tried filtering out responses that were blank in the name field and both text boxes.  The 82% majority did not budge.
What happens now

*       GHC 7.10 will embody Plan FTP.

*       The Core Libraries committee, freshly energised and informed by this episode, is drafting new guidelines to clarify what it does, and how it works; and to help avoid a repetition of the recent drama.

*       The responses.  In the survey we said "We won't publish either textual responses or personally-identifying information without your consent. The full responses will be made available only to a limited few."   However, the English-language comments are a remarkable snapshot of the Haskell community, and it would be a shame to discard them without deeper study.  We propose to make them available to the Core Libraries Committee, to inform their future choices.

If anyone else wants to digest the comments into a summary report, we think that would be a service to the community, and (in our view, provided they are a reputable person etc) would fall under the "available to a limited few" rubric.  If that appeals to you, write to us.

If you object even to such limited sharing, write to us too.
This wasn't an entirely easy process, especially because it happened so late in the release cycle.  But although many people felt quite strongly about List vs FTP, the whole debate has involved light rather than heat; people have concentrated on the technical issues, rather than yelling.  Overall, it's been very encouraging to see the resilience, transparency, and constructive tone of the community.  We really appreciate that - thank you.
Simon Marlow and Simon Peyton Jones

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