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A Haskell project template that uses Nix and comes with cabal-install, ghcid, ormolu, haskell-language-server and more.


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A cookiecutter template which creates a Haskell project that

  • Can be built with Nix and cabal-install,
  • Has a library, an executable and a test suite,
  • Comes with a shell.nix which provides an environment with haskell-language-server, ghcid, ormolu and more,
  • ghci integrates with Haddock and Hoogle for all dependencies (:doc, :hoogle),
  • Can be built into a Docker container,
  • Uses a pinned nixpkgs managed by niv.


No need to install anything, just run:

nix-shell -p cookiecutter git --run 'cookiecutter gh:utdemir/hs-nix-template'

Once that completes, cd into the directory and call:


(includes a recent GHC, cabal, a populated hoogle database, haskell-language-server, ghcid and more)

Or you can directly build the executable for your project with:

nix-build --attr exe

Or deploy to docker image:

nix-build --attr docker

And load the resulting image:

docker load -i result

Cheat Sheet

Use the hpack configuration tool

When running cookiecutter, you'll be presented with the option of using cabal's default configuration format or hpack. When using hpack, you will need to run hpack to generate a cabal file before building, i.e.

hpack .
cabal build

The nix shell will contain hpack for local development and the nix build will automatically handle changes to package.yaml. See the hpack documentation for more information.

Run Hoogle locally

  • hoogle server --local -p 3000 -n

You need the -n to stop hoogle from trying to use https locally. You will need to kill and reload this whenever you add or remove a dependency in your cabal file (if you use lorri your shell will reload for you as well). This is so hoogle will use the newly generated database with your added/modified dependencies.

Add external source with niv

  • From Hackage
    • niv add extra --version 1.6.20 -a name=extra -t '<name>-<version>/<name>-<version>.tar.gz'
  • From GitHub with specific revision
    • niv add ndmitchell/ghcid -a rev=e3a65cd986805948687d9450717efe00ff01e3b5

Add external tool to default.nix

The sources you pull down with niv are accessible under sources.<name> (fyi: <name> is the key in sources.json). However, that is a derivation with the attributes you need to fetch the source, not the source itself. If you want to pull in a source you need to either give it to a function that knows how to fetch the contents like callCabal2nix or if the source has a default.nix you can import it directly, like so: import sources.<name> {}.

Often you will want to explore what you have just imported since you may only want one of its attributes, you can do this by adding the source as an exported attribute in your default.nix:

  if pkgs.lib.inNixShell then shell else {
    inherit exe;
    inherit docker;
    ### Added here
    src = import sources.<name> {};

Then call nix repl default.nix and you can tab complete src.<tab> to see what attributes are inside. (Note, this is how I know to call (import sources.niv {}).niv to get the niv derivation).

On the other hand here is an example with callCabal2nix adding the specific version of ghcid we fetched earlier to our development shell:

    buildInputs = with pkgs.haskellPackages; [
      ### Added modified development tool here
          (pkgs.haskellPackages.callCabal2nix "ghcid" (sources.ghcid) {}))

If you exit your nix-shell to reload this change you will find it won't build. However, this means you won't have access to niv or other development tools you may need to get the derivation building again. I strongly recommend using lorri to handle re-building your development environment, among other useful features it will load up the last successful build for your development environment alleviating this issue entirely.

To get this version of ghcid building you need to provide a specific version of the extra library:

  extra = pkgs.haskellPackages.callCabal2nix "extra" (sources.extra) {};

  shell = myHaskellPackages.shellFor {
    packages = p: [

Then add it to the end of your callCabal2nix call:

          (pkgs.haskellPackages.callCabal2nix "ghcid" (sources.ghcid) {inherit extra;}))

Note: I am building ghcid with haskellPackages not myHaskellPackages. If the tool fails to build you might want to either use a different package set or modify one yourself so the tool has the right dependencies.

Speed up dependency building

For some packages, like extra we don't need its documentation or setup for profiling since its just a dependency of a build tool. You can speed up building dependencies with a modified package set:

  fastHaskellPackages = pkgs.haskellPackages.override {
    overrides = hself: hsuper: rec {
      mkDerivation = args: hsuper.mkDerivation (args // {
        doCheck = false;
        doHaddock = false;
        enableLibraryProfiling = false;
        enableExecutableProfiling = false;
        jailbreak = true;

  ### The external library then is build with the modified package set
  extra = fastHaskellPackages.callCabal2nix "extra" (sources.extra) {};

Add external dependency to default.nix

Lets say you wanted to add extra as dependency of your project and its not in the package set by default:

  myHaskellPackages = pkgs.haskell.packages.${compiler}.override {
    overrides = hself: hsuper: {
      ### Add new dependences here
      extra =
      ### Local package without a default.nix and don't run tests
      hedgehog = self.haskell.lib.dontCheck (hself.callCabal2nix "hedgehog" /absolute/path/to/project/haskell-hedgehog/hedgehog {});
      "your-project-name" =
          (gitignore ./.)

This will not only add extra to your project, but also build the documentation for you. However, to get it in your local hoogle database you need to add it to your cabal file and then call nix-shell.

Override dependency in default.nix

If you want to override a dependency you add it like we did above with extra, just make sure the name is identical to what is in the package set. As you would expect, the name in the package set is the same as the name on Hackage. However, there are a few packages with multiple versions, like zip and zip_1_4_1.

If you want to see exactly what is in your modified package run nix repl default.nix and you will get this:

Loading 'default.nix'...
Added 3 variables.


Then you can tab complete to see what is in myHaskellPackages

nix-repl> myHaskellPackages.ex<tab>

This is also the best way to find out what versions of libraries are in a package set. Instead of having to add them to your cabal file to find out the version you can just view the version attribute. Again in nix repl

nix-repl> myHaskellPackages.extra.version

Importing your library in another project

One of the attributes default.nix exports is "your-project-name". This is so you can easily import your project's library into your other Haskell projects.

If you want to import your project locally you can just directly reference the default.nix file.

  myHaskellPackages = pkgs.haskell.packages.${compiler}.override {
    overrides = hself: hsuper: {
      ### local import
      "your-project-name" =
        (import /absolute/path/to/your-project-name/default.nix {}).your-project-name;

The downside to this approach is that your continuous integration or others won't be able to build your project from scratch. You need to host the code somewhere online and fetch it in the derivation. You can use niv to fetch your code from github or the like and then import it like so:

  myHaskellPackages = pkgs.haskell.packages.${compiler}.override {
    overrides = hself: hsuper: {
      ### local import
      "your-project-name" =
        (import source.your-project-name {}).your-project-name;

Deploy to Docker Image

The third project in haskell-nix goes into detail how this works, but we have already included docker under the docker attribute.

Note: if your project name has a space in it, the executable path will be wrong.


A Haskell project template that uses Nix and comes with cabal-install, ghcid, ormolu, haskell-language-server and more.