I attended BayHac over the weekend. There were a bunch of interesting impromptu talks. Notes on all those I recall follow, with other observations at the end.

  • The first talk encouraged people to get up, and demonstrated some hand stretches. Although almost everyone knows sitting hunched up all day is harmful, almost everyone needs an occasional reminder. A mention at any conference is well worthwhile for the individuals and community in question.
  • Plush is a POSIX shell server (in Haskell) with a web UI (Javascript; communication between them with JSON, session initiated with an unguessable URL), which already provides some nice context and control over display not available in a usual table, e.g., the output of each command is collapsible, pieces of the current path are clickable, and there are tooltips for each command argument.
  • You currently have to register (no verification) to see anything, but GitStar is a GitHub clone built on Hails, a framework for hosting mutually untrusted web applications (eg project wiki and source browser in case of GitStar), at least with respect to access to each others’ data, which is controlled via “Labeled IO”, with labels specifying policy around data based on Information Flow Control, a subject I had not heard of. GitStar and Hails source is mirrored on GitHub. An initial research paper and promise of more at the bottom of a README.
  • Visi is a language implemented in Haskell that seems somewhere between a spreadsheet and a traditional programming language read-eval-print-loop (ad hoc, immediate recalculation, but no grid). Spreadsheet programming is something I know almost nothing about, and ought to.
  • Composable Pipes. For readers who care about such things, note author dissuaded from using GPL in linked thread.
  • Something about typesafe reuse of types extending Agda’s typesystem. I understood very little (my fault).
  • cabal branch will checkout source for any Haskell package with source repository annotations — source of the specific version you’re using, if annotation specifies source-repository this.
  • A talk about Lift, a Scala web framework, mostly concerning the benefits of passing around a DOM representation rather than treating templates as blobs of text. I’m impressed by Lift, and played a bit with it a couple years ago, but was in no place to spend time to develop any real application.
  • Implementations of Paxos and parallel builds.
  • Interacting with DBUS (eg GNOME and KDE applications) from Haskell.
  • Shelly, a library for shell scripting in Haskell. Side point made that scripting languages, including Ruby, find initial popularity through scripting by sysadmins, not developer frameworks — true to my experience.
  • Visualizing n-gram relationships with SVG output.
  • Translating simple art pieces in Forth to C.
  • Pingwell is creating apps to bring pricing and other information to consumers when they can act on it, eg in a grocery store. I’m pretty sure this scenario has been imagined thousands of times over the past few decades, good that it will come to exist soon. The talk was mostly about using a Haskell computer vision library.

Other observations:

  • Macbooks in majority, but lower proportion than usual — and many, perhaps a majority, of people with Macbooks seemed to be developing on Linux in a virtual machine.
  • 100% male attendees, which is a bit disturbing, but I detected zero brogrammer vibe.
  • The first day was hosted at Hacker Dojo, which I had heard of but never visited. I was surprised at how large and quiet it was. At least during the day, it seems dozens of people use as a coworking space.
  • Web application development, Yesod in particular, is attracting more people to Haskell (I can’t find a reference, but recall that #haskell and/or /r/haskell watchers increased substantially on the day Yesod 1.0 was released). Newbie attendees (me included) leaning Haskell and Yesod further evidence.
  • Lots of anguish and anguished cries about dependency hell.

Thanks to BayHac organizer Mark Lentczner (also Plush developer and haskell-patform release manager; watch his intro to Haskell video) for putting together such a well run and friendly event. I felt some trepidation about attending, knowing that almost everyone would be both smarter and more experienced than me, but everyone was helpful and patient. I’m glad I went.

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