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README.md

rawfilepath

A Haskell library for the mid-level system functions for the RawFilePath data type.

Background

Traditional String is notorious:

  • 24 bytes (three words) required for one character (the List constructor, the actual Char value, and the pointer to the next List constructor). 24x memory consumption.
  • Heap fragmentation causing malloc/free overhead
  • A lot of pointer chasing for reading, devastating the cache hit rate
  • A lot of pointer chasing plus a lot of heap object allocation for manipulation (appending, slicing, etc.)
  • Completely unnecessary but mandatory conversions and memory allocation when the data is sent to or received from the outside world

Transition to Text and ByteString began, but even after a dazzling community effort, FilePath, a key data type for programming anything useful, remained to be a type synonym of String.

To put a cherry on top of creaking, fuming, dragging, and littering pointers all over the heap space, String had another fantastic nature to serve as a file path data type: Encoding blindness. All functions that return FilePath would actually take a series of bytes returned by a syscall and somehow magically "decode" it into a String which is surprising because no encoding information was given. Of course there is no magic and it's an abject fail. FilePath just wouldn't work.

In June 2015, three bright Haskell programmers came up with an elegant solution called the Abstract FilePath Proposal and met an immediate thunderous applause. Inspired by this enthusiasm, they further pursued the career of professional Haskell programming and focused on more interesting things.

So what is this?

RawFilePath is a data type provided by the unix package. It has no performance issues because it is ByteString which is packed. It has no encoding issues because it is ByteString which is a sequence of bytes instead of characters. However, the functions in unix are low-level, and the higher-level packages such as process and directory are strictly tied to FilePath.

So I decided to start writing the RawFilePath version of those functions.

Advantages

  • High performance
  • No round-trip encoding issue
  • Minimal dependencies (bytestring, unix, and base)
  • Lightweight library (under 400 total lines of code)
  • Available now

Documentation

API documentation of rawfilepath on Stackage.

To do

rawfilepath is in an early stage, although major backwards-incompatible changes are unlikely to happen. We can probably port more system functions that are present in process or directory

Patches will be highly appreciated.

About

Haskell library for encoding-free interaction with Unix system. Use RawFilePath (ByteString) instead of FilePath (String)

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