Example-based Haskell Documentation Engine
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Ex-Hack: Hackage Example Database


Ex-Hack Logo

Ex-Hack-tement Jamy!

Ex-Hack, shorthand for Hackage EXamples is a Haskell example-based documentation.


Note: This is an alpha release. See the How to Contribute section to help us making this tool more reliable/complete.

Screenshot showcasing the Ex-Hack HTML documentation


Ex-Hack is a CLI tool able to generate an example-based documentation from a stackage build plan.

It may be useful:

  • For stackage users to learn how to use a library missing proper documentation
  • For library maintainers as a way to see which symbols are mostly used in the wild before performing an API refactoring.

/!\ Again, this is an alpha release. We may miss a lot of symbols occurrences, please do not use this tool as a way to assess your API usage yet.

How to Use?

  1. Build and install ex-hack.
  2. Download a Stackage build plan from this repo. Note: Ex-Hack not yet compatible with the GHC 8.6 line.
  3. Run ex-hack -s ${stackageFile} to generate the documentation. Note: this process will download, build and index the whole Stackage packages. It will take quite some time.

How to Contribute?

First, pick an issue labelled as todo, fork the project, fix the issue, add some tests and open a PR.

We use this repository as main form of communication. If you have some questions/need a more informal channel to get in touch with us, you can join the #ex-hack channel on the freenode irc network.

Architecture Overview

The software is built around the processing step notion. Basically, a processing step is an atomic transformation applied to every package. Each processing step is dependent from the previous one and is a dependency for the next one.

Because of this, every processing step can be distributed on several processes or machines using a map/reduce strategy.

There are currently 8 processing steps:

  1. Generate database scheme: initialize the database.
  2. Parse the Stackage YAML description: parse the stackage YAML file.
  3. Download assets (cabal + tarballs).
  4. Generate the package dependency graph: generate a dependency graph using the downloaded cabal files.
  5. Save the dependency graph to the database.
  6. Retrieve the packages exported symbols: for each package, we will look for an exposed library, load and type-checking it in GHC using the GHC API to finally retrieve all of the exported symbols.
  7. Index the used symbols: we parse every source file of every package and look for occurrences of the symbols retrieved in the previous step.
  8. Generate the HTML documentation: we render the ex-hack SQLite database into a static HTML documentation. This documentation can either be served on the web, or consulted locally.

Development Tooling

You can either use Nix or Stack to build/install ex-hack.

Both the project's maintainer and the CI are using Nix as the primary build tool, the stack build may be broken. If that's the case, please open an issue and submit a PR fixing the issue (if you can :)).

Note: You don't necessarily need NixOS to use Nix, you probably can do it on your favorite OS.

How to Generate the Doc?

Once you installed ex-hack, you can download a Stackage build plan and generate the associated documentation with

ex-hack -s stackage_file.yml

By default, the files will be generated in your XDG_DATA/ex-hack/output directory. That will be .local/share/ex-hack/output on Linux. Once generated, you can either copy this static HTML documentation to the web-server you want to deploy it onto or spawn a small local web-server to browse it.

These directory can be overridden, check out the appropriate flags using the --help argument.

You may want to save the logs on top of displaying them:

ex-hack -s lts-12.11.yaml 2>&1 | tee ex-hack-run.log

How to Install?

Using Cachix as Binary Cache


With Nix

cd ${ex-hack dir}
nix-env -f default.nix -iA ex-hack

With Stack

Check that the ./local/bin directory is in your $PATH.

cd ${ex-hack dir}
stack install

How to Build?

Using Nix

To work on ex-hack interactively:

cabal build

To test the nix release system:


Using Stack

stack build

How to Test?

There are currently two test suites: a unit one and an integration one.

Running the integration test suite can take quite some time (~1 minute on my 7yo desktop).

Using Nix

# Run both the unit and integration tests
cabal test
# Run unit tests only
cabal test unit-tests
# Run integration tests only
cabal test integration-tests

Unfortunately, you can't test ex-hack using the nix-build command. For some reason, cabal-helper doesn't like being used from within the nix-store environment.

Using Stack

stack test

How to Profile?

You'll either need to build the nix expression with the profile parameter enabled:

nix-shell --arg profile true
nix-build --arg profile true

If you are interactively using cabal to build and debug your project, you can enable the profiling by using:

cabal configure --enable-profiling --flags=profiling
cabal build

Then, use the regular RTS profiling options to either profile the heap or get an overview of the cost centers.