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Promote Haskell

Help your team adopt Haskell

This page is targeted at developers looking to get their teams or companies to consider adopting Haskell.

At FP Complete, we like to use the attractors and obstacles approach, contrasting the draw of Haskell with concerns surrounding deploying Haskell. This page is designed to help you:

  • Find the attractors
  • Address the obstacles

Attractor: The three pillars

At FP Complete, we talk about Haskell having the three pillars of software development:

  • Performance Haskell performs on par with other higher-level languages
  • Productivity Haskell is expressive, allowing developers to get work done quickly
  • Robustness Strong/static typing, purity, and immutability lead to solid, easy to maintain code with reduced bug counts

Attractor: Powerful concurrency

Haskell’s concurrency story is best-in-class. Immutable-by-default prevents a large number of race conditions. Software Transaction Memory simplifies many others. Purity simplifies the interaction of code.

Attractor: Rich library ecosystem

There are over 10,000 open source Haskell libraries on Hackage. Stackage, the curated subset of Hackage, contains thousands of commonly used libraries which are vetted to build and work together.

Attractor: Commercial success

Haskell has a long history of commercial success, especially in the FinTech and Life Sciences spaces, and more recently in the Blockchain space. It is also used regularly by companies large and small for tasks varying from web development to replacing shell scripts.

FP Complete has a collection of case studies demonstrating large Haskell success stories. In addition, we have a crowd funded list of Haskell success blog posts and articles below. If you’d like to add something to the list, please use the edit button at the top of the page. (Also, check out the original call to action blog post).

Obstacle: Commercial support

There is a persistent belief that, due to Haskell’s roots in academia, there is no commercial support available for the language. This is not the case. To try and make this as easy to knock down as possible, FP Complete has put together a Haskell Success Program, which makes it easy and affordable for companies to work with our team of Haskellers to get commercial assistance and training.

Obstacle: Ability to hire

There is some truth to this concern. Haskell does not have the marketshare of, say, Java. If your requirements at work is to find highly experienced Haskell developers locally on a regular basis, you may have difficulty unless you’re in a large tech hub. However, we’ve seen companies succeed greatly using a few techniques:

  • Be open to remote work. The marketshare issue comes down to lack of density of jobs and developers in the same locale. Globally, there’s a huge market of Haskellers.
  • Hire non-Haskellers and train them. With the growing popularity of functional programming, Haskell’s concepts are no longer foreign to developers. We’ve provided lots of learning material on this site to help with that, and are always available to help your team succeed.
  • Supplement your team with consultants. For more information, check out the FP Complete consulting page.

Remember that the marketshare issue cuts both ways. While companies may have trouble finding engineers, overall the Haskell job market is a buyer’s market. There’s a huge pool of highly talented people out there looking to spend their days writing Haskell code.

Obstacle: Learning curve

Haskell is significantly different from standard languages most developers learn. The delta between Python and Ruby is significantly smaller than Python and Haskell, for example. You should anticipate a learning curve when introducing your team to Haskell. We believe this cost is worth it, because:

  • The benefits of Haskell pay off in the medium term, and you reap huge benefits in the long term
  • The act of learning pure functional programming can help your developers find new approaches to problems in any language

That said, a few things can help reduce the learning curve.

Obstacle: Not pragmatic

There is a persistent myth that Haskell isn’t pragmatic. “It takes 50 lines to write Hello World in Haskell,” or other such nonsense. This isn’t true. While you can make Haskell non-pragmatic, you can do the same in any language. A lot of the non-pragmatic code you’ll see people point to in online discussions is specifically exploring new ideas, which is a healthy part of language development.

If you follow our recommended best practices, you can focus in on the most pragmatic and beneficial parts of the language and ecosystem.

Convince my boss

Alright, so you’re ready to convince your boss to try Haskell. Or you are the boss, and you’re intrigued by what you’ve read. Firstly, in communicating with the rest of your team, do not dismiss their concerns. We’ve included some of those concerns here. These are not non-issues. In our estimation, the benefits outweigh the costs. But be honest about measuring the costs, especially in your specific case.

Use Haskell at the right time. If you have a 3 week deadline and no one on your team knows Haskell, don’t start using Haskell now. Our recommendation is:

  • Schedule some time to learn Haskell
  • Participate in some commercial training to speed up the process
  • Select a pilot project to test the waters with. Small web services or command line utilities are great for this, since they have well defined interaction points with the rest of your code.
  • Plan to have a retrospective after the pilot project to assess how it went and decide how you’d like to continue
    • While we at FP Complete hope you’ll love Haskell and continue using it, keep in mind that even if you go back to writing code in your previous programming language, learning Haskell can help you better take advantage of functional features in other languages

We’re always happy to have a conversation about Haskell adoption. Contact us to set up a conversation with one of our Haskell developers.