Joachim Breitner

ZuriHac 2014

Published 2014-06-08 in sections English, Haskell.

I’m writing this on the train back from the ZuriHac Haskell Hackathon in Zürich, generously sponsored by Better and Google. My goal for this event was to attract new people to work on GHC, the Haskell compiler, so I announced a „GHC bugsquashing project“. I collected a few seemingly simple ticket that have a good effort/reward ratio for beginners and encouraged those who showed up to pick one to work on.

Roughly six people started, and four actually worked on GHC on all three days. The biggest hurdle for them was to get GHC built for the first time, especially those using a Mac or Windows. They also had to learn to avoid recompilation of the whole compiler, which takes an annoying amount of time (~30 minutes for most people). But once such hurdles weren taken all of them managed to find their way around the source code to the place they need to touch and were able to produce a patch, some of which are already merged into GHC master. When I wasn’t giving tips and hints I was working on various small tickets myself, but nothing of great impact. I very much hope that this event will pay off and one or two of the newcomers end up being regular contributors to GHC.

We took breaks from our respective projects to listen to interesting talks by Edward Kmett and Simon Marlow, and on Saturday evening we all went to the shores of the Zurisee and had a nice Barbecue. It was a good opportunity to get into contact with more of the attendees (the hacking itself was separated in multiple smaller office rooms) and I was happy to hear about people having read my recent Call Arity paper, and even found it valuable.

Thanks to the organizers and sponsors for this nice opportunity!

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