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Interactive, client-side web apps in Haskell
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Shade Logo

Interactive, client-side web apps in Haskell

Shade is a DSL for writing browser-side applications in Haskell without the need for callbacks or pervasive mutation.

Check out a live example of the TodoMVC application and the accompanying source code.

Shade is currently quite experimental. Drastic changes are to be expected

Hello, World!

phrase = "Hello, World!"

helloInput :: (Shade s) => String -> s (Async s String)
helloInput str =
  do (inpAsync, inp) <- letElt (input [value (fromString valid)])
     div [] $ do h1 [] (text ("Enter '"++phrase++"': "++valid++"\n"))
     return (fmap (toString . changeEventValue) (onChange inpAsync))
    valid = map fst (takeWhile (uncurry (==)) (zip str phrase))

mainLoop elt str =
  do (a, r) <- runClient (helloInput str)
     listen a (\s -> mainLoop elt s)
     renderClient elt r

main :: IO ()
main = do
  Just e <- elemById "reactroot"
  mainLoop e ""

What is Shade?

Shade offers a purely functional approach to specifying interactive web applications. Instead of consisting of two-way data bindings between GUI widgets, applications are conceived as pure, one-way functions from a model to a view. As the model changes, the view is simply re-rendered. Shade uses React to make this repeated re-rendering extremely efficient.

Applications are specified with Shade by using a typed tagless-final domain-specific syntax. A key advantage of the tagless-final style is its solution to the expression problem. This means you can add more terms to your syntax (allowing, for example, custom html tags in the style of Angular's Directives) while, at the same time, interpreting the same syntax in various ways (for example, generating both a static file on the server side and an interactive app on the client side without changing the application code). Shade consists of the platform-agnostic shade-core, which is the tagless-final markup syntax and shade-haste which is compiled by Haste to Javascript and is responsible for rendering the markup on the client via React. Additional rendering back-ends are planned.

Shade eschews callbacks and mutation in favour of values and composition. Rendered components can be treated as Async-like values that represent the delivery of an event at some point in the future. These can be mapped over like any other functor or merged together like a monoid. Shade's use of Asyncs allows for highly-composable interactive behaviours in a similar vein as those offered by Functional Reactive Programming or Reactive Extensions.

Slides are available for a talk introducing Haste and tagless-final style.

Getting Started

First, install Haste, a Haskell-to-Javascript compiler. You can then build and install shade-core and shade-haste by running haste-inst install in their respective subdirectories.

To use shade in a new app, add shade-core and shade-haste to your .cabal file's build-depends:. You will need to directly specify the location of Shade's javascript stub file in your .cabal with a line like ghc-options: --with-js=<...>/stubs.js, where <...>/stubs.js is the path to the stub file shade-haste/lib/stubs.js.

You will also need to include React in your project. One option is to use Bower and put the entry "react": "~0.10.0" in your bower.json file.

Compiling your app and relocating the resulting javascript files can be done with a command like haste-inst build && mv src/*.js js/

The TodoMVC sample app demonstrates one way to include the relevant generated Javascript in an html page.

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