Either "GHCi as a daemon" or "GHC + a bit of an IDE". To a first approximation, it opens
ghci and runs
:reload whenever your source code changes, formatting the output to fit a fixed height console. Unlike other Haskell development tools,
ghcid is intended to be incredibly simple. In particular, it doesn't integrate with any editors, doesn't depend on GHC the library and doesn't start web servers.
Acknowledgements: This project incorporates significant work from JPMoresmau, who is listed as a co-author.
stack install ghcid or
cabal update && cabal install ghcid to install it as normal. Then run
ghcid "--command=ghci Main.hs". The
command is how you start your project in
ghci. If you omit
--command then it will default to
stack ghci if you have the
stack.yaml file and
.stack-work directory, default to
ghci if you have a
.ghci file in the current directory, and otherwise default to
Personally, I always create a
.ghci file at the root of all my projects, which usually reads something like:
:set -fwarn-unused-binds -fwarn-unused-imports :set -isrc :load Main
After that, resize your console and make it so you can see it while working in your editor. On Windows you may wish to pass
--topmost so the console will sit on top of all other windows. On Linux, you probably want to use your window manager to make it topmost or use a tiling window manager.
What you get
On every save you'll see a list of the errors and warnings in your project. It uses
ghci under the hood, so even relatively large projects should update their status pretty quickly. As an example:
Main.hs:23:10: Not in scope: `verbosit' Perhaps you meant `verbosity' (imported from System.Console.CmdArgs) Util.hs:18:1: Warning: Defined but not used: `foo'
Or, if everything is good, you see:
Please report any bugs you find.
There are a few plugins that integrate Ghcid into editors, notably:
- If you have a
.ghcidfile in the current folder, or a parent folder, the contents of that file will be used as command line arguments. For example, if you always want to pass
--command=custom-ghcithen putting that in a
.ghcidfile will free you from writing it each time.
- There is an article on auto-reloading threepenny-gui apps during development.
- There are a list of general tips for using Ghcid.
In general, to use
ghcid, you first need to get
ghci working well for you. In particular, craft a command line or
.ghci file such that when you start
ghci it has loaded all the files you care about (check
:show modules). If you want to use
--test check that whatever expression you want to use works in that
ghci session. Getting
ghci started properly is one of the hardest things of using
ghcid, and while
ghcid has a lot of defaults for common cases, it doesn't always work out of the box.
This isn't as good as full IDE
I've gone for simplicity over features. It's a point in the design space, but not necessarily the best point in the design space for you. For "real" IDEs see the Haskell wiki.
If I delete a file and put it back it gets stuck.
Yes, that's a bug in GHCi. If you see GHCi getting confused just kill
ghcid and start it again.
I want to run my tests when files change.
You can pass any
ghci expression with the
--test flag, e.g.
--test=:main, which will be run whenever the code is warning free (or pass
--warnings for when the code is merely error free).
I want to run arbitrary commands when arbitrary files change.
I want syntax highlighting in the error messages.
One option is to use Neovim or Emacs and run the terminal in a buffer whose file type is set to Haskell. Another option is to pipe
ghcid through source-highlight (
ghcid | source-highlight -s haskell -f esc).
I'm not seeing pattern matching warnings.
Ghcid automatically appends
-fno-code to the command line, which makes the reload cycle about twice as fast. Unfortunately GHC 8.0 and 8.2 suffer from bug 10600 which means
-fno-code also disables pattern matching warnings. On these versions, either accept no pattern match warnings or use
-c to specify a command line to start
ghci that doesn't include
-fno-code. From GHC 8.4 this problem no longer exists.
I get "During interactive linking, GHCi couldn't find the following symbol"
This problem is a manifestation of GHC bug 8025, which is fixed in GHC 8.4 and above. Ghcid automatically appends
-fno-code to the command line, but for older GHC's you can supress that with
--test "return ()" (to add a fake test) or
-c "ghci ..." to manually specify the command to run.
I only see source-spans or colors on errors/warnings after the first load.
Due to limitations in
ghci, these flags are only set after the first load. If you want them to apply from the start, pass them on the command line to
ghci with something like
-c "ghci -ferror-spans -fdiagnostics-color=always".
I want to match on the file/line/column to get jump-to-error functionality in my editor.
You will variously see
file:(line1,col1)-(line2,col2):message, as these are the formats GHC uses. To match all of them you can use a regular expression such as
What if the error message is too big for my console?
You can let
ghcid print more with
--no-height-limit. The first error message might end up outside of the console view, so you can use
--reverse-errors to flip the order of the errors and warnings. Further error messages are just a scroll away. Finally if you're going to be scrolling, you can achieve a cleaner experience with the
--clear flag, which clears the console on reload.
I use Alex (
.x) and Happy (
.y) files, how can I check them?
Ghcid only notices when the
.hs files change. To make it respond to other files you can pass the
.y files to
--restart=myparser.y. As long as you set the initial command to something that runs Happy/Alex (e.g.
cabal repl) then when those files change everything will restart, causing the initial command to be rerun.