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The Haskell-Scriptable Editor
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Yi is a text editor written in Haskell and extensible in Haskell. The goal of Yi is to provide a flexible, powerful and correct editor core scriptable in Haskell.

Its features include

  • a purely functional editor core;
  • keybindings written as parsers of the input;
  • Emacs, Vim and Cua (subset) emulations provided by default;
  • Vty (terminal) and Gtk-based Pango UIs

The long term goal of the project is to make Yi the editor of choice for the haskell hacker. The main short term goal is to maximize Yi's Fun Factor. This means that we want to

  • improve hackability (and therefore architecture) and
  • add cool features.

We also want to simplify the core Yi package to make it more accessible, splitting some parts into several packages.

Other information (much of it old) is available on the Haskell wiki.



Yi requires the Haskell Platform 2011.2.0.0 at minimum (for GHC 7, alex, and cabal-install, among other things).

With the Haskell Platform installed, yi should be installed with cabal-install:

$ cabal update
$ cabal install yi

On Linux systems, you'll probably need ncurses development headers for the Vty frontend. On Ubuntu, you'll need to install the libncurses5-dev package.

You can specify frontends to compile, also:

$ cabal install yi -fvty -fpango

Options are -fvty and -fpango.

You can also install the yi-contrib package, which contains some extra contributed things (like user configs):

$ cabal install yi-contrib

If you're in the source repository, you can install yi from source:

$ cabal update # Still update to get updated dependencies
$ (cd yi && cabal install)

And the contrib package:

$ (cd yi-contrib && cabal install)

If you're getting errors about Alex version bounds or are experiencing similar problems, it's recommended that you install from the sources available in the GitHub repository which has the version bounds adjusted and contains a couple of nice fixes that might not be present in the latest Hackage version.

Installing inside a Cabal sandbox

Many people want to install Yi inside a cabal sandbox (cabal-install 1.18 feature). This is especially important if you plan on hacking on Yi itself or on libraries for Yi.

As Yi compiles your config file once you start it, the config needs to know where to look for any of its dependencies, such as Yi itself! If these are inside of the sandbox, it doesn't know where to look and you'll get config compilation errors due to missing modules.

To sandbox, navigate to your source yi directory. For me it's ~/programming/yi/yi.

Once there, run cabal sandbox init as you normally would, then cabal install. Now check your .cabal-sandbox directory. You should see a bunch of files but we're looking for the directory storing all the sandboxed packages. For me, it's i386-linux-ghc-7.6.3-packages.conf.d. If you cabal install with different versions of the compiler, you might have more than one of these directories. I also have i386-linux-ghc-7.9.20140129-packages.conf.d. This is important if you want to work on Yi with multiple compiler versions but most people will only have a single such directory.

Next, we need to somehow tell Yi/GHC where to look for these packages when compiling our config. Thankfully, a GHC_PACKAGE_PATH environment variable can do just that. Here's mine, called runyi that I put in my $PATH for easy access:

export GHC_PACKAGE_PATH=$HOME/programming/yi/yi/.cabal-sandbox/i386-linux-ghc-7.6.3-packages.conf.d:$GHC_PACKAGE_PATH
$HOME/programming/yi/yi/.cabal-sandbox/bin/yi "$@"

What it does is it sets GHC_PACKAGE_PATH to the directory we have found inside .cabal-sandbox earlier and then runs the yi binary which is also in the sandbox. The "$@" part means that all the arguments we pass to this script are passed on to the Yi binary which means we can still use all the regular flags, such as runyi --as=emacs. Of course, you'll need to adjust the paths used to match your sandbox and package directories. Pick the version that your compiler is going to be when running Yi.

There's one more thing to mention in this section and that is config dependencies. One of the great things about Yi is that we have access to the wealth of existing Haskell libraries and we can take advantage of this in our config file. There are two scenarios:

If the package your config depends on is on Hackage and you want to use that, just use cabal install in the sandboxed Yi directory. So if your config depends on semigroups, you'd run cabal install semigroups. After doing this, semigroups should now be visible when your config is getting compiled.

If the package your config depends on is local, for example when you're developing the library that you want to use or if you need a patched version, you'll have to use cabal add-source command. As an example, I'm developing a yi-haskell-utils package and my config depends on it. To accommodate for this, I ran cabal add-source ~/programming/yi-haskell-utils.

I suspect that it'd be perfectly possible to make your config file into a cabal project and manage the dependencies that way but I have not yet investigated this approach.

Getting Source

Yi source repository is available on GitHub.

To get the git version,

$ git clone git://

(There may be more repositories in the future, as yi is split more.)

Reporting Bugs

Please report issues on GitHub.

Mailing List

Our mailing list is yi-devel, hosted at Google Groups. Please ask us questions on this list! All development discussion occurs on this list.

IRC channel

Our channel is #yi at Freenode. Please note that it is rather slow (very slow compared to #haskell), so be prepared to stay for longer than 5 minutes.

Configuring Yi

Yi uses the Dyre package to have dynamic reconfiguration. You can configure Yi by creating ~/.config/yi/yi.hs, and then Yi is reconfigured whenever you update this file. Example configuration files are in yi/examples/ (copy any of these into ~/.config/yi/ as yi.hs and restart Yi).

You can also use the sample user configs in the yi-contrib package (see the list of user configs in the source repository on GitHub). To use one of these configurations, install the package and then create a configuration file ~/.config/yi/yi.hs like this:

import Yi
import Yi.Config.Users.Anders

main = yi config

It's possible to customize even these user configs in the same way as the example configurations.

Frontend Compatibility

        |  Vty    Pango
Linux   |   X       X
OSX     |   X       X
Windows |           X

Windows support for Vty may eventually come; patches on the vty package would certainly be appreciated.

The plan is to move the UI frontends into separate packages, but this has not yet happened.


If you're interested in optimizing Yi, here is a way to get profiling:

  1. Change ghcOptions in yi/src/library/Yi/Main.hs:
-                  ghcOptions = [],
+                  ghcOptions = ["-auto-all", "-prof", "-osuf=p_o", "-hisuf=p_hi", "-rtsopts"],
  1. Recompile yi with --enable-library-profiling:
cabal configure --enable-library-profiling && cabal install --reinstall
  1. Run yi first to get a compiled real executable.

  2. Then call real executable from cache directory with profiling options. On any XDG-compatible (Unix-like) system this should look like:

~/.cache/yi/yi-linux-x86_64 +RTS -Pa

Reading material

There are some papers which might interest you. If you plan on hacking on Yi, it's very recommended that you read these

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