Text-Mode Games as First Haskell Projects

Posted on May 28, 2022 by Jack Kelly
Tags: haskell, coding

Back in my school days, when my friend and I were first learning C++, we were voracious readers and exhausted our school’s programming curriculum very quickly. Our teacher challenged us to make something larger so we’d stop playing Tribes all the time. It worked: I spent the rest of the term building a text-mode platformer using <conio.h>, and he spent the rest of the term building and tweaking a small text-mode dungeon crawler.

Many new Haskellers make it through initial material (everything up to and including the Monad typeclass, let’s say), write a couple of “Hello, world!”-tier projects that use the IO type, but struggle to make the jump to industrial libraries and/or find projects that excite them. I think text-mode games can grow very smoothly alongside a programmer learning a new language, so here’s some thoughts on how to get started, how you might extend a game, and some advice for Haskell specifically.

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Haskell, Lua, and Fennel

Posted on May 1, 2022 by Jack Kelly
Tags: haskell, fennel, lisp, lua, coding

I find Haskell a fantastic language for almost all of the programming I want to do: a (reasonably) expressive type system, a (reasonably) good library ecosystem, and (reasonably) good tooling together give me a very satisfying local maximum for getting stuff done. I can’t see myself giving up libraries for a more powerful type system, nor giving up Haskell’s guarantees for a larger library ecosystem.

Scripting a larger program is one of the few areas where Haskell struggles. Despite some very impressive efforts like dyre, I think it’s a bit much to require a working Haskell toolchain and a “dump state, exec, load state” cycle just to make a program scriptable. This post discusses why Lua is a great scripting runtime for compiled programs, its shortcomings as a scripting language, how Fennel addresses many of these shortcomings, and demonstrates a Haskell program calling Fennel code which calls back into Haskell functions.

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How Long is your List?

Posted on January 15, 2022 by Jack Kelly
Tags: haskell, coding

Quite a few of my favourite Haskell idioms involve the Foldable instance for Maybe:

-- This is reimplemented all over the place as `whenJust`.
-- Pass our `a` to the function, if we have one,
-- and ignore its result; return `pure ()` otherwise.
for_ :: (Foldable t, Applicative f) => t a -> (a -> f b) -> f ()
for_ @Maybe :: Applicative f => Maybe a -> (a -> f b) -> f ()

-- Equivalent to `Data.Maybe.fromMaybe mempty`:
-- Return the `m` if we have one; otherwise, return `mempty`.
fold :: (Foldable t, Monoid m) => t m -> m
fold @Maybe :: Monoid m => Maybe m -> m

-- Equivalent to `maybe mempty`:
-- Pass our `a` to our function, if we have one;
-- otherwise, return `mempty`.
foldMap :: (Foldable t, Monoid m) => (a -> m) -> t a -> m
foldMap @Maybe :: Monoid m => (a -> m) -> Maybe a -> m

Some of these confuse people more than I think they should, so this post aims to help with that. Instead of looking at Maybe a as “just-a-or-nothing”, the key is to become comfortable with Maybe as “list of zero or one elements”. We’ll also go looking for other types which can be seen as “lists of some number of elements”.

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Someone Might Have Asked for This

Posted on January 14, 2022 by Jack Kelly
Tags: wiki, haskell

I’ve run across a lot of extremely good Haskell resources over the years, and there are a few that I refer to over and over again when teaching. Instead of relying on my memory and hoping to recall the right talks in response to the right questions, I’ve collected the best of them on a wiki page. Hopefully it’s useful.

Nobody Asked for This

Posted on December 28, 2021 by Jack Kelly
Tags: wiki, haskell, coding

I added a wiki to the site, so that I can store important public notes and other stuff that’s not just point-in-time blog posts. This has allowed me to publish a tier list of Space Jam mashups.

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