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First class composable record labels for Haskell.
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src/Data/Record
.gitignore
LICENCE
README
Setup.lhs
TestTH.lhs
fclabels.cabal

README

First class labels that act as bidirectional record fields.

The labels are fully composable and can be used to get, set and modify parts of
a datatype in a consistent way. The label datatype, conveniently called `:->',
is an instance of the `Category' type class: meaning it has a proper identity
and composition. The library has support for automatically deriving labels from
record selectors that start with an underscore. Labels can be used in a purely
functional setting or be applied to mutable state in some state monad.

To illustrate this package, let's take the following two example datatypes
(somehow Haddock removes the curly braces):

> data Person = Person {
>     _name   :: String
>   , _age    :: Int
>   , _isMale :: Bool
>   , _place  :: Place
>   }

> data Place = Place {
>     _city
>   , _country
>   , _continent :: String
>   }

Both are record datatypes with all record labels prefixed by an underscore.
This underscore is an indication for our Template Haskell code to derive labels
for these fields.  Deriving labels can be done with this simple one-liner:

> $(mkLabels [''Person, ''Place])

Label functions will be generated, label type signatures will not be generated.
This is actually not that bad, by writing the signatures Let's give the
functions a signature by hand:

> name      :: Person :-> String
> age       :: Person :-> Int
> isMale    :: Person :-> Bool
> place     :: Person :-> Place
> city      :: Place :-> String
> country   :: Place :-> String
> continent :: Place :-> String

These type signatures look very similar to the function types for normal record
labels, except that the additional colon indicates a true first class label.
These labels can be used to get, set and modify the value and are fully
composable.

Now let's look at this example. This 71 year old fellow, called Jan, is my
neighbour and didn't mind using him as an example:

> jan :: Person
> jan = Person "Jan" 71 True (Place "Utrecht" "The Netherlands" "Europe")

When we want to be sure Jan is really as old as he claims we can use the @get@
function to get the age out as an integer:

> hisAge :: Int
> hisAge = get age jan

Consider he now wants to move to Amsterdam: what better place to spend your old
days. Using composition we can change the city value deep inside the structure:

> moveToAmsterdam :: Person -> Person
> moveToAmsterdam = set (city . place) "Amsterdam"

> moveToAmsterdam jan ==
>  Person "Jan" 71 True (Place "Amsterdam" "The Netherlands" "Europe")

Composition is done using the dot operator which is part of the
@Control.Category@ module. Make sure to import this module and hide the default
@(.)@, @id@ and @mod@ function from the Prelude.

Now, because Jan is an old guy, moving to another city is not a very easy task,
this really takes a while. It will probably take no less than two years before
he will actually be settled. To reflect this change it might be useful to have
a first class view on the @Person@ data type that only reveals the age and
city.  This can be done by using a neat @Applicative@ functor instance:

> ageAndCity :: Person :-> (Int, String)
> ageAndCity = Label $ (,) <$> fst `for` age <*> snd `for` (city . place)

Because the applicative type class on its own is not very capable of expressing
bidirectional relations, which we need for our labels, the actual instance is
defined for an internal helper structure called @Point@. Points are a bit more
general than labels. As you can see above, the @Label@ constructor has to be
used to convert a @Point@ back into a @Label@. The @for@ function must be used
to indicate which partial destructor to use for which label in the applicative
composition.

Now that we have an appropriate age+city view on the @Person@ data type (which
is itself a label again), we can use the @mod@ function to make Jan move to
Amsterdam over exactly two years:

> moveToAmsterdamOverTwoYears :: Person -> Person
> moveToAmsterdamOverTwoYears = mod ageAndCity (\(a, b) -> (a+2, "Amsterdam"))

> moveToAmsterdamOverTwoYears jan ==
>  Person "Jan" 73 True (Place "Amsterdam" "The Netherlands" "Europe")

This package also contains a lens data type that encodes bidirectional
functions. Just like labels, lenses can be composed with other lenses using the
@Control.Category@ type class. Lenses can be used to change the type of a
label. The @Iso@ type class, which can be seen as a bidirectional functor, can
be used to apply lenses to labels. For example, when we want to treat the age
of a person as a string we can do the following:

> ageAsString :: Person :-> String
> ageAsString :: (show <-> read) `iso` age

A final note: this library might look cryptic at first sight, but give it a
try, it is not that hard.

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