Posts tagged ‘monads’

Adventures in Haskelland

2012-02-14 21:31

In a post from top of the year I mentioned that I was looking into Haskell programming language, and promised to give some insight on how it fares compared to others. Well, I think it’s time to deliver on that promise, for the topic of this particular language – and functional programming in general – is indeed very insightful.

I do not claim to have achieved any kind of proficiency in Haskell, of course; I might very well be just scratching the surface. However, this is exactly the sort of perspective I wanted to employ when evaluating language usefulness: a practical standpoint, held by programmer who is looking to use it for actual tasks, without having mastered it in great detail – at least initially. This is, by the way, a pretty common setting when tackling all new things related to coding, be it frameworks, software platforms or languages.

Still, I knew it was almost supposed to be a rough ride. A language whose tutorials purposefully shy away from classic Hello World example (typically inserting a factorial function instead) looks like something designed specifically to melt brains of poor programmers who dare to venture forth to investigate it. Those few who make their way back are told about in folk tales, portrayed as mildly crazy types who profess this weird idea of “purity”, and utter the word ‘monad’ with great contempt.

Okay, I may be exaggerating… slightly. But there is no denying that Haskell attained a certain kind of reputation, something like a quirky cousin in the big and diverse family of languages. Unlike Lisp, he isn’t picked on due to any (particular (and (rather) obvious)) property. There is just this general aura of weirdness and impracticality that he supposedly radiates, repelling all but the most adventurous of coders.

If it really exists, then pity: it certainly failed to repel me. As a result, I may have a story (or two) to share with those who want to learn what’s this functional business is really about, and why should they care.

Grab a chair and something to drink – it’s going to take a while. But in the end, you shouldn’t regret staying.


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