wither the Platform

Manuel M T Chakravarty chak at cse.unsw.edu.au
Wed Mar 25 06:33:40 UTC 2015

> Gershom B <gershomb at gmail.com>:
> On March 25, 2015 at 12:43:22 AM, Manuel M T Chakravarty (chak at cse.unsw.edu.au) wrote:
>> Look. I guess, I count as a power user ;) I rarely use sandboxes. They are great for a particular  
>> type of use, but you can do many things quite happily without them. (Ask SimonPJ; I reckon  
>> he doesn’t use sandboxes either.)
> Ironically, the only time I have had to use a sandbox was in doing work on the new Haskell homepage (it is written in Yesod). In fact, that was insufficient for some reason and I had to install hsenv as well and use that for an even “stronger” sandbox. As I have said, I also install the platform whenever possible. Believe me, you are preaching to the choir!

Then, I don’t understand why the Platform isn’t the recommended <this is what you install if you don’t know better> on the homepage.

>> The mistake here is to try to make this a one-size-fits all. I honestly don’t care about  
>> a platform that is ideal for everybody. I want something that I can point newbies at that  
>> makes them happy quickly. That needs to be one download with all the packages that you  
>> need to get going included.
> ..
>> Well, we have got people who want to learn Haskell now and who use Haskell as part of their 
>> coursework now. Why make them wait for future work which will probably take longer than 
>> planned, needs to be rolled out, etc?
> I do not understand this. The platform still exists, is still great, is not going anywhere, and as far as I can tell, is on track to become even better. You can point people at https://www.haskell.org/platform/ or you can point them at downloads.haskell.org which links to there or you can point them at www.haskell.org and tell them “the downloads page gives you options, pick the platform option.” Nobody who wants to use the platform must wait for anything.
> Nobody has taken anything from you, or anyone else. Nobody wants to take anything from you, or anyone else.

I know, but look at the subject of this message (and the original post in this thread). Mark’s questions was —as I read it— do we still need the platform. Then, lots of power users jumped up and down criticising the flaws in the platform and why other approaches are better.

To which I say, other approaches are better for you (plural)[1], but not to a large class of novices. That is all.

Also, to reiterate, I’m arguing with you because you replied to my message. I definitely do appreciate all the effort you (and others) are putting into the homepage and infrastructure.


[1] English is such an awkward language :P

> We just want to recognize that this other set of users — those coming from other languages, and wanting to “from the gate” install large sets of dependencies — this set of users has grown and is growing and if we don’t want them to become frustrated and bounce off Haskell, then we need to provide resources for them too, and steer them to things that meet _their_ needs as well. They are not lucky enough to be in your class and be guided by an instructor.
> If you want to patch the downloads page so that it more clearly highlights the platform option or makes clear that if you want to be a “power user” and manage lots of dependencies with abandon you may want the minimal installers, and if you want “a good, wide-ranging set of defaults to experiment and learn with” then you want the platform, or some other wording that is perhaps clearer, or anything at all like that, then there is again a ticket on the github homepage to improve the language, and pull requests are welcome. The compromise wording on the page now is just that: a compromise. I don’t even claim it to be a great one, just what was settled on. If you (or anyone) can improve it to present both sorts of installers and the tradeoffs more clearly and more simply, please do!
> There are different types of beginners, and meeting all their needs (as well as the needs of long-timers of various stripes, etc) all at once is a tricky task. Again, the main advantage that students have is that they have instructors who can guide them in what they recommend to download, how to get started, etc. So, for the moment, I would argue that students are not the most fundamental target audience for that snippet of text on the downloads page. But, that does not mean the language cannot be better for students too. And I would very much like it to be!
> Beyond that I don’t feel we’re discussing anything as metaphysical as flexibility or simplicity. And I don’t feel my own preferences are necessarily better or worse than others — I just want two things, as do we all I think. A) To have the best possible toolsets available for all types of users in all possible development setups, and B) To somehow condense the core of that information into an easily digestible form to help steer visitors to the Haskell homepage to the setup that is right for _them_. 
> As always, anybody who wants to help with this in any regard with the new homepage is welcome and invited to do so. We have plenty of open tickets and room for improvement all around, a helpful crew on the #haskell-infrastructure irc, and patches, pull requests, and new tickets are always welcomed.
> Best,
> Gershom
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