1.6. Release notes for version 6.12.1

The significant changes to the various parts of the compiler are listed in the following sections. There have also been numerous bug fixes and performance improvements over the 6.10 branch.

1.6.1. Highlights

  • Considerably improved support for parallel execution. GHC 6.10 would execute parallel Haskell programs, but performance was often not very good. Simon Marlow has done lots of performance tuning in 6.12, removing many of the accidental (and largely invisible) gotchas that made parallel programs run slowly.

  • As part of this parallel-performance tuning, Satnam Singh and Simon Marlow have developed ThreadScope, a GUI that lets you see what is going on inside your parallel program. It's a huge step forward from "It takes 4 seconds with 1 processor, and 3 seconds with 8 processors; now what?". ThreadScope will be released separately from GHC, but at more or less the same time as GHC 6.12.

  • Dynamic linking is now supported on Linux, and support for other platforms will follow. Thanks for this most recently go to the Industrial Haskell Group who pushed it into a fully-working state; dynamic linking is the culmination of the work of several people over recent years. One effect of dynamic linking is that binaries shrink dramatically, because the run-time system and libraries are shared. Perhaps more importantly, it is possible to make dynamic plugins from Haskell code that can be used from other applications.

  • The I/O libraries are now Unicode-aware, so your Haskell programs should now handle text files containing non-ascii characters, without special effort.

  • The package system has been made more robust, by associating each installed package with a unique identifier based on its exposed ABI. Now, cases where the user re-installs a package without recompiling packages that depend on it will be detected, and the packages with broken dependencies will be disabled. Previously, this would lead to obscure compilation errors, or worse, segfaulting programs.

    This change involved a lot of internal restructuring, but it paves the way for future improvements to the way packages are handled. For instance, in the future we expect to track profiled packages independently of non-profiled ones, and we hope to make it possible to upgrade a package in an ABI-compatible way, without recompiling the packages that depend on it. This latter facility will be especially important as we move towards using more shared libraries.

1.6.2. Language changes

  • The new TupleSections language extension enables tuple sections, such as (, True). See Section 7.3.13, “Tuple sections” for more information.

  • The new MonoLocalBinds language extension disables type variable generalisation for bindings in let and where clauses.

  • It is now possible to derive instances for GADT datatypes, provided the standard instance code is valid for the datatype.

  • The new DeriveFunctor, DeriveFoldable and DeriveTraversable language extensions enable deriving for the respective type classes. See Section 7.5.3, “Deriving clause for extra classes (Typeable, Data, etc)” for more information.

  • The new NoNPlusKPatterns language extension disables n+k patterns. See Section 7.3.7, “n+k patterns” for more information.

  • The new ExplicitForAll language extension enables explicit forall's in types. See Section 7.8.1, “Explicit universal quantification (forall)” for more information.

  • The new DoRec language extension provides new syntax for recursive do-notation, and the old RecursiveDo language extension has been deprecated. See Section 7.3.8, “The recursive do-notation ” for more information.

  • Some improvements have been made to record puns:

    • C { A.a } now works, expanding to C { A.a = a }.

    • -fwarn-unused-matches no longer warns about bindings introduced by f (C {..}) = x.

    • The RecordWildCards language extension implies DisambiguateRecordFields.

  • Declarations such as

    data T a where
        MkT :: forall a. Eq a => { x,y :: !a } -> T a

    are now only accepted if the extension TypeOperators is on.

  • It is now possible to define GADT records with class constraints. The syntax is:

    data T a where
        MkT :: forall a. Eq a => { x,y :: !a } -> T a
  • You can now list multiple GADT constructors with the same type, e.g.:

    data T where
        A, B :: T
        C :: Int -> T
  • It is now possible to use GADT syntax for data families:

    data instance T [a] where
        T1 :: a -> T [a]

    and make data instances be GADTs:

    data instance T [a] where
        T1 :: Int -> T [Int]
        T2 :: a -> b -> T [(a,b)]
  • Record updates can now be used with datatypes containing existential type variables, provided the fields being altered do not mention the existential types.

  • The ImpredicativeTypes extension now imples the RankNTypes extension.

  • The ImpredicativeTypes extension is no longer enabled by -fglasgow-exts, and has been deprecated.

  • You can now give multi-line DEPRECATED and WARNING pragmas:

    {-# DEPRECATED defaultUserHooks
         ["Use simpleUserHooks or autoconfUserHooks, unless you need Cabal-1.2"
         , "compatibility in which case you must stick with defaultUserHooks"]
  • The -#include flag and INCLUDE pragma are now deprecated and ignored. Since version 6.10.1, GHC has generated its own C prototypes for foreign calls, rather than relying on prototypes from C header files.

  • The threadsafe foreign import safety level is now deprecated; use safe instead.

  • There is a new FFI calling convention called prim, which allows calling C-- functions (see Section 8.1.3, “Primitive imports”). Most users are not expected to need this.

1.6.3. Warnings

  • A warning is now emitted if an unlifted type is bound in a lazy pattern (in let or where clause, or in an irrefutable pattern) unless it is inside a bang pattern. This warning is controlled by the -fwarn-lazy-unlifted-bindings flag. In a future version of GHC this will be an error.

  • There are two new warnings if a monadic result of type other than m () is used in a do block, but its result is not bound. The flags -fwarn-unused-do-bind and -fwarn-wrong-do-bind control these warnings (see Section 4.7, “Warnings and sanity-checking”).

  • The new flag -fwarn-dodgy-exports controls whether an error is given for exporting a type synonym as T(..).

  • Name shadowing warnings are no longer given for variable names beginning with an underscore.

  • When -Werror is given, we now pass -Werror to cpp.

1.6.4. Runtime system

The following options are all described in Section 4.15.3, “RTS options to control the garbage collector”.

  • The flag +RTS -N now automatically determines how many threads to use, based on the number of CPUs in your machine.

  • The parallel GC now uses the same threads as the mutator, with the consequence that you can no longer select a different number of threads to use for GC. The -gn RTS option has been removed, except that -g1 is still accepted for backwards compatibility.

    The new flag +RTS -qggen sets the minimum generation for which parallel garbage collection is used. Defaults to 1. The flag -qg on its own disables parallel GC.

  • The new flag +RTS -qbgen controls load balancing in the parallel GC.

  • The new flag +RTS -qa uses the OS to set thread affinity (experimental).

  • If you link with the -eventlog flag, then the new flag +RTS -l generates prog.eventlog files, which tools such as ThreadScope can use to show the behaviour of your program (see Section 4.15.6, “Tracing”). The +RTS -D>x output is also sent to the eventlog file if this option is enabled. The +RTS -v flag sends eventlog data to stderr instead.

  • There is a new statistic in the +RTS -s output:

    SPARKS: 1430 (2 converted, 1427 pruned)

    This tells you how many sparks (requests for parallel execution, caused by calls to par) were created, how many were actually evaluated in parallel (converted), and how many were found to be already evaluated and were thus discarded (pruned). Any unaccounted for sparks are simply discarded at the end of evaluation.

1.6.5. Build system

  • We now require GHC >= 6.8 to build.

  • We now require that gcc is >= 3.0.

  • In order to generate the parsers, happy >= 1.16 is now required. The parsers are pre-generated in the source tarball, so most users will not need Happy.

  • It is now possible to build GHC with a simple, BSD-licensed Haskell implementation of Integer, instead of the implementation on top of GMP. To do so, set INTEGER_LIBRARY to integer-simple in mk/build.mk.

  • The build system has been rewritten for the 6.12 series. See the building guide for more information.

  • The build system now uses variables like bindir compatibly with the GNU standard.

1.6.6. Compiler

  • The "Interface file version" field of the ghc --info output has been removed, as it is no longer used by GHC.

  • There is a new "LibDir" field in the ghc --info output.

  • A field f in the ghc --info can now be printed with ghc --print-f, with letters lower-cased and spaces replaced by dashes.

  • GHC now works (as a 32bit application) on OS X Snow Leopard.

  • The native code generator now works on Sparc Solaris.

  • Haddock interface files are now portable between different architectures.

  • The new linker flag -eventlog enables the +RTS -l event logging features. The -debug flag also enables them.

  • There is a new flag -feager-blackholing which typically gives better performing code when running with multiple threads. See Section 4.13.1, “Compile-time options for SMP parallelism” for more information.

  • There is a new flag -fbuilding-cabal-package which signals to GHC that it is being run by a build system, rather than invoked directly. This currently means that GHC gives different error messages in certain situations.

  • The following flags were static, but are now dynamic: -fext-core, -fauto-sccs-on-all-toplevs, -auto-all, -no-auto-all, -fauto-sccs-on-exported-toplevs, -auto, -no-auto, -fauto-sccs-on-individual-cafs, -caf-all and -no-caf-all.

1.6.7. GHCi

  • If the argument to :set prompt starts with a double quote then it is read with Haskell String syntax, e.g.:

    Prelude> :set prompt "Loaded: %s\n> "
    Loaded: Prelude
  • The arguments to :set set and :set show can now be tab completed.

  • We inherit some benefits from an upgraded version of haskeline:

    • A multitude of new emacs and vi commands.

    • New preference 'historyDuplicates' to prevent storage of duplicate lines.

    • Support PageUp and PageDown keys.

1.6.8. Template Haskell

  • You can now omit the splice notation for top-level declaration splices, e.g.:

    data T = T1 | T2
    deriveMyStuff ''T
  • Splices are now nestable, e.g. you can say f x = $(g $(h 'x)).

  • It is now possible to splice in types.

1.6.9. Package Handling

  • Shared libraries are now supported on x86 and x86_64 Linux. To use shared libraries, use the -dynamic flag. See Section 4.11, “Using shared libraries” for more information.

  • The new -fno-shared-implib flag can be used to stop GHC generating the .lib import library when making a dynamic library. This reduces the disk space used when you do not need it.

  • Packages can now be identified by a "package ID", which is based on a hash of the ABIs. The new flag -package-id allows packages to be selected by this identifier (see Section 4.8.5, “Package IDs, dependencies, and broken packages”). Package IDs enable GHC to detect potential incompatibilities between packages and broken dependencies much more accurately than before.

  • The new flag --abi-hash, used thus:

    ghc --abi-hash M1 M2 ...

    prints the combined hash of all the modules listed. It is used to make package IDs.

  • You can now give ghc-pkg a -v0 flag to make it be silent, -v1 for normal verbosity (the default), or -v2 or -v for verbose output.

  • Rather than being a single package.conf file, package databases now consist of a directory containing one file per package, and a binary cache of the information. GHC should be much faster to start up when the package database grows large.

  • There is a new command ghc-pkg init to create a package database.

  • There is a new command ghc-pkg dot to generate a GraphViz graph of the dependencies between installed packages.

  • There is a new command ghc-pkg recache to update the package database cache should it become out of date, or for registering packages manually.

1.6.10. Libraries

GHC no longer comes with any extralibs; instead, the Haskell Platform will provide a consistent set of additional libraries. array

  • Version number (was

  • The Data.Array.Diff module has been moved to its own package. base

  • Version number (was

  • We also ship a base version (was, so legacy code should continue to work. This package is now deprecated, and will be removed in a future version of GHC.

  • Handle IO now supports automatic character set encoding and newline translation. For more information, see the "Unicode encoding/decoding" and "Newline conversion" sections in the System.IO haddock docs.

  • Lazy I/O now throws an exception if an error is encountered, in a divergence from the Haskell 98 spec which requires that errors are discarded (see Section 21.2.2 of the Haskell 98 report). The exception thrown is the usual IO exception that would be thrown if the failing IO operation was performed in the IO monad, and can be caught by System.IO.Error.catch or Control.Exception.catch.

  • It is now possible to create your own handles. For more information, see the GHC.IO.Handle haddock docs.

  • System.IO now exports two new functions, openTempFileWithDefaultPermissions and openBinaryTempFileWithDefaultPermissions.

  • Data.Fixed now provides Data and Typeable instances for Fixed, and exports a number of new types: E0, Uni, E1, Deci, E2, Centi, E3, Milli, E9 and Nano.

  • In Control.Exception, BlockedOnDeadMVar has been renamed to BlockedIndefinitelyOnMVar and BlockedIndefinitely has been renamed to BlockedIndefinitelyOnSTM.

  • The Control.OldException module has been deprecated.

  • System.Posix.Internals.setNonBlockingFD now takes an additional Bool argument, so you can turn blocking back on again.

  • A new function eof has been added to Text.ParserCombinators.ReadP.

  • The Foreign.C.Types.CLDouble type has been removed. It was never correct, but just a duplicate of Foreign.C.Types.CDouble.

  • In Data.Data, the StringRep and StringConstr constructors have been removed. The CharRep and CharConstr constructors should be used instead.

  • In Data.Data, mkIntConstr has been deprecated in favour of the new mkIntegralConstr.

  • In Data.Data, mkFloatConstr has been deprecated in favour of the new mkRealConstr.

  • In Data.Data, mkNorepType has been deprecated in favour of the new mkNoRepType. bytestring

  • Version number (was Cabal

  • Version number (was

  • Many API changes. See the Cabal docs for more information. containers

  • Version number (was

  • mapAccumRWithKey has been added to Data.IntMap.

  • A Traversable instance has been added to Data.IntMap.IntMap.

  • The types of Data.IntMap.intersectionWith and Data.IntMap.intersectionWithKey have been changed from

    intersectionWith :: (a -> b -> a) -> IntMap a -> IntMap b -> IntMap a
    intersectionWithKey :: (Key -> a -> b -> a) -> IntMap a -> IntMap b -> IntMap a


    intersectionWith :: (a -> b -> c) -> IntMap a -> IntMap b -> IntMap c
    intersectionWithKey :: (Key -> a -> b -> c) -> IntMap a -> IntMap b -> IntMap c
  • The types of Data.IntMap.findMin and Data.IntMap.findMax have been changed from

    findMin :: IntMap a -> a
    findMax :: IntMap a -> a


    findMin :: IntMap a -> (Int,a)
    findMax :: IntMap a -> (Int,a)
  • Data.Map now exports mapAccumRWithKey, foldrWithKey, foldlWithKey and toDescList.

  • Data.Sequence now exports replicate, replicateA, replicateM, iterateN, unfoldr, unfoldl, scanl, scanl1, scanr, scanr1, tails, inits, takeWhileL, takeWhileR, dropWhileL, dropWhileR, spanl, spanr, breakl, breakr, partition, filter, sort, sortBy, unstableSort, unstableSortBy, elemIndexL, elemIndicesL, elemIndexR, elemIndicesR, findIndexL, findIndicesL, findIndexR, findIndicesR, foldlWithIndex, foldrWithIndex, mapWithIndex, zip, zipWith, zip3, zipWith3, zip4 and zipWith4. directory

  • Version number (was

  • A new function copyPermissions has been added to System.Directory.  dph (dph-base, dph-par, dph-prim-interface, dph-prim-par, dph-prim-seq, dph-seq)

  • All the dph packages are version 0.4.0. extensible-exceptions

  • Version number (was filepath

  • Version number (was

  • The list of characters that are invalid in filenames on Windows now includes \ (backslash). ghc-binary

  • This is an internal package, and should not be used. ghc-prim

  • Version number (was haskell98

  • Version number (was hpc

  • Version number (was integer-gmp

  • Version number (was called integer, version integer-simple

  • This is a new boot package, version old-locale

  • Version number (was

  • Date and time in ISO8601 format are now separated by T rather than a space. old-time

  • Version number (was packedstring

  • This is no longer a boot package. pretty

  • Version number (was process

  • Version number (was random

  • Version number (was syb

  • Version number (was template-haskell

  • Version number (was

  • Support for inline and specialise pragmas has been added.

  • Support for bang patterns has been added

  • Support for kind annotations has been added

  • Support for equality constraints has been added

  • Support for type family declarations has been added time

  • This is a new boot package, version 1.1.4. unix

  • Version number (was

  • System.Posix.IO now exports fdReadBuf and fdWriteBuf.

  • System.Posix.Process.executeFile now returns IO a instead of IO (). Win32

  • Version number (was

  • System.Win32.File now exports WIN32_FIND_DATA, FindData, getFindDataFileName, findFirstFile, findNextFile and findClose.

  • System.Win32.Info now exports getCurrentDirectory, getTemporaryDirectory, getFullPathName and searchPath.

  • System.Win32.Types now exports HRESULT.

  • There is a new module System.Win32.Shell.