24 Days of GHC Extensions: Welcome!

Hello everyone, I’m pleased to announce it’s that time of the year again! Following in the tradition of 24 Days of Hackage 2012 and 2013, it’s time for another advent calendar. However, this year I felt it could be fun to try something a little different.

The previous years have concentrated on using libraries available on Hackage, and this is naturally a very important part of working in Haskell. However, it’s one thing to use libraries, but it’s another to just write code - and for this it’s important to note just what the language itself has to offer.

Haskell itself is a well defined language - officially specified by the Haskell ’98 report, and the subsequent Haskell 2010 report. Language implementers needn’t stop there though, as Haskell is meant to be a rich playground for experimenting with new functional programming constructs. For many years, GHC has embraced the notion of extensions - opt in functionality that gives the user even more tools when writing their programs.

GHC extensions vary from basic syntax sugar, to meta-programming, all the way to full type system extensions. Remarkably, the extension system is extremely mature - where many of the extensions transparently extend syntax, error messages, and is far from an ad hoc approach to extending the language. In fact, it’s hard to avoid using GHC extensions these days - the power and productivity gains they bring is simply too much to ignore.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore just a handful of the extensions that GHC supports - a list which as of GHC 7.8 is almost exceeding 100 extensions! I’m also happy to announce that this year will feature some guest posts once again, so the lead up to Christmas should packed with excitement.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post, please do get in touch - there are still spaces! If there’s any extension that excites you, or crops up a lot in your programming, I highly encourage you to volunteer a post about it. As with previous years, I would love it if 24 Days can become a platform for those new to blogging to get their feet wet, along with a fantastic learning resource.

On with the show!

This post is part of 24 Days of GHC Extensions - for more posts like this, check out the calendar.

You can contact me via email at ollie@ocharles.org.uk or tweet to me @acid2. I share almost all of my work at GitHub. This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.