GHC Status Report (April 2018)

2018 saw GHC's first release under its new accelerated release schedule. GHC 8.4.1 contained

Major changes in GHC 8.6

Libraries, source language, and type system

  • The new -XNumericUnderscores extension allows underscores to be used in numeric literals, improving legibility of longer literals.
  • The long-awaited -XBlockArguments extensions allows do and lambda expressions to be used directly as a function argument, eliminating the need for parentheses or an application operator.
  • Possibly: The -XDerivingVia extension, a proposed relative of -XGeneralizedNewtypeDeriving which allows users to derive
  • The Data.Functor.Contravariant module from the contravariant package has been moved into base.


  • The compiler's core simplifier now performs significantly more varieties of numeric constant folding.
  • Incomplete pattern match warnings are now offered for guards in pattern bindings and MultiWayIf alternatives.
  • A new syntax tree representation based on Trees That Grow. This will make it easier for external users to add their own annotations to the HsSyn AST. In future this should allow Shayan Najd to harmonise the GHC and Template Haskell ASTs, and for the ghc-exactprint annotations to move into the GHC parsed AST (Shayan Najd and Alan Zimmerman).
  • Further improvements in support for cross-compilation (Moritz Angerman)
  • Replacement of the make-based build system with Hadrian. Hadrian, while being usable in GHC 8.4, should be able to replace make in nearly all uses. Moreover, it will have significantly better documentation and support relocatable installation trees, a feature unavailable in the current build system (Andrey Mokhov, Zhen Zhang, Moritz Angerman, Alp Mestanogullari)
  • Many, many bug fixes.

Runtime system

  • Significantly improved Windows support with a new I/O manager, long file path compatibility and dynamic linking support (Tamar Christina).

GHC proposals

Since the launch of the GHC proposals process, over 128 proposals have been created, 41 have been submitted to the committee and 19 have been accepted. These are:

At the time of writing, 15 proposals are under active discussion by the community and 13 proposals are under review by the committee.

Looking forward: what's hot

GHC is lucky to have a large number of volunteer contributors.

  • Matthías Páll Gissurarson has been adding support for significantly improved diagnostics messages for typed holes. His
  • Ryan Scott has been TODO
  • Mark Karpov of Tweag I/O has been pushing forward GHC's continuous integration reboot. Using computational resources generously provided by Google X, GHC will be moving its continuous integration infrastructure to CircleCI and Appveyor. This will allow us to more easily produce binary distributions
  • Boldizsár Németh has been working on improving GHC's plugin story. GHC currently disables to its recompilation checking when compiling with plugin, dramatically increasing build times in common situations.
  • Joachim Breitner has been continuing his work on improving GHC's treatment of join points. TODO
  • Andreas Klebinger has been working on improving various facets of GHC's backend code generator. In the past few weeks alone he has contributed performance optimisations for GHC's C-- pass, improved common subexpression elimination, and added infrastructure for taking advantage of branch likelihoods.
  • Michal Terepeta has been performing a variety of refactoring in the backend, moving
  • Tamar Christina has continued his work on making GHC run great on Windows. Recently he has been working to finish up a patchset enabling dynamic linking support on Windows. Tamar is also working on a rework of GHC's Windows IO manager implementation. The new implementation will take full advantage of Windows' asynchronous I/O interfaces and should solve dozens of long-standing tickets.
  • In addition to contributing valuable code review and bug triaging, Sebastian Graf has contributed fixes to a variety of issues throughout the compiler, including fixes to demand analysis,
  • Recently Patrick Dougherty dusted off a long-dormant patch making the ghc-heapview package a first-class citizen. This package allows Haskell programs to introspect the heap
  • Andrey Mokhov, Zhen Zhang, Moritz Angermann, Alp Mestanogullari, Tamar Christina, Patrick Dougherty and Tao He have all been working on the finishing the last mile of the switch to GHC's new Shake-based build system, Hadrian.
  • One of the larger projects in the pipeline for 8.6 is Alan Zimmerman and Shayan Najd's refactoring of GHC to use the extensible Trees That Grow AST structure.

Last year GHC began accepting GitHub pull requests for small changes, particularly to documentation.

As always, if you are interested in contributing to any facet of GHC, be it the runtime system, type-checker, documentation, simplifier, or anything in between, please come speak to us either on IRC (#ghc on or Happy Haskelling!

Last modified 20 months ago Last modified on Apr 25, 2018 3:45:30 PM