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How to Learn Haskell

Do you ever wonder how large scale applications are developed? The size of such applications consumes time to get running. Tools and frameworks are extensively used to help decrease the amount of time spent in rolling out the first release. Haskell is one such language — it helps rapidly develop applications of all scales.

In this guide, we’re going to talk about how to learn Haskell and what resources you can use to master it.

What You Need to Know About Haskell

Haskell is a programming language with varied possibilities of use. It is a functional programming language, which means unlike Java, Haskell does not involve objects and classes. This, however, does not limit any of Haskell’s capabilities to create full-fledged applications. Some of the key highlights about the language that you should know are:

  • Functional. As mentioned previously, Haskell is a functional language. This means that the entire development is based on functions that get called and return values. Haskell also focuses on minimum side effects from functions. This helps simplify the program logic. Side effect refers to a situation in which a function changes some global variable outside of its scope during its execution.
  • Modular. Since Haskell is a functional programming language, one of the main features is its modularity. Instead of writing one single, huge file of source code, you can divide your code into smaller functions and files. This helps improve code readability.
  • Maintainable. Owing to the language’s modularity, Haskell applications are very easy and cost-effective to maintain.
  • Lazy. Haskell is a lazy language, which means that nothing in Haskell gets done until it is really needed to be done. The evaluation of an expression in Haskell happens only when it is required to do so.
  • Statically Typed. Haskell is a statically typed language, which means that there are several types defined for variables in the language. It is also a strongly typed language, which means you can not store a Boolean in a Char at any point in time.

These are only a few of the many things the language offers. As you learn more about Haskell, you’ll become aware of more things you can use to help speed up your application’s development.

Skills Needed to Learn Haskell

To learn Haskell, you should have a basic understanding of functional programming. 

You certainly do not need to be an expert in programming to understand Haskell, but having a preliminary understanding of the concept will help you easily get started. Having prior experience in application development is a bonus.

Why You Should Learn Haskell

Haskell is a great programming language for many tasks. Parallel programming has for long been a pain for developers. With multiple objects and CPUs, it can get tricky to increase the amount of data that gets processed as well as ensure that the data is consistent and not incorrectly modified.

Haskell’s functional paradigm helps resolve this issue and allows you to write thread-safe functional applications faster. On top of that, Haskell is a very good language to try out if you come from a Java/C++ background. This is so because there is a huge difference between the way applications are written in Haskell and in Java/C++. The Haskell experience helps you to think of new approaches when building applications in other languages.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Haskell?

The answer to this question depends on where you currently stand in programming. Surprisingly, having experienced object-oriented programming can slow you down when trying to learn Haskell, as your mind is accustomed to the way objects and classes help build applications.

All in all, you can expect to devote four to six hours daily for a period of four to six weeks to get a good grip on the language. Mastering any programming language is no easy task, and the same goes for Haskell. To start building real-life applications with Haskell, you can expect to spend about two to three months working on the ins and outs of the language.

Learning Haskell: A Study Guide

You will find plenty of Haskell learning resources online. With so much information available, you may be wondering where exactly you should start. We have compiled a list of five learning resources to help you learn what you need to know about the Haskell platform.

Haskell Wikibook

  • Resource Type: Written tutorial
  • Price: Free
  • Prerequisites: None

The Haskell Wikibook is the perfect way to start your Haskell journey, as recommended by the Haskell organization themselves. The Wikibook has a collection of chapters on the language’s concepts, grouped together under two tracks — beginner and advanced. 

In the end, the tutorial contains a practice section, which houses a number of examples to help you get started using Haskell in practical situations. The beginner track is sufficient to help you begin with the practice section.

Learn You a Haskell For Great Good!

  • Resource Type: E-book
  • Price: Free (Online)
  • Prerequisites: None

This book takes a beginner-first approach and is a popular choice for developers who are completely new to the idea of functional programming. Written in a jargon-less, easy language, this book is a great alternative for learning Haskell from scratch. It is serious enough to not sound like a “for dummies” book, but fun and creative at the same time too.

Introduction to Haskell Programming

  • Resource Type: Course
  • Platform: EdX
  • Price: Free
  • Prerequisites: None

This course is targeted at teaching functional programming to learners and utilizes Haskell in the process. This makes the course a perfect starter for people who love to understand the “why” behind a technology before diving right into it.

Haskell is used as the medium of showing practical examples for theoretical concepts explained by this course. Any other functional programming language can interchangeably be used, but the use of Haskell adds a nice icing to the cake.

Haskell Fundamentals Part 1 & 2 on PluralSight

  • Resource Type: Course
  • Platform: PluralSight
  • Price: Requires PluralSight subscription
  • Prerequisites: Some hands-on experience with functional programming

Haskell Fundamentals by PluralSight is a two-part course on some of the core topics of the language that includes higher-order functions, types, and input-output.

If you have some prior experience with either Haskell or any other functional programming language, this course is one of the best ways to build on your knowledge. It contains ample practice resources and tutorials to help you solidify your understanding of the subject.

Hitchhikers Guide to Haskell

  • Resource Type: Written Tutorial
  • Price: Free
  • Prerequisites: Some prior experience with functional programming or Haskell

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Haskell is one of the best tutorials that you can take after you have gotten familiar with the language. Its style of writing ensures that the readers are hooked throughout, and they are constantly provided with quality pieces of advice on how to tackle Haskell’s problems well.

This tutorial covers a small section of topics in great detail, which includes IO, Monads, and the famous knapsack problem in Haskell. Feel free to check it out after you have taken one of the more basic courses from the list.

Communities for People Studying Haskell

Communities are an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn Haskell. By joining a community, you can quickly find help. You can also learn more about how other people use Haskell, which may inform how you use the tool.

Below we have created a list of some top communities for people studying Haskell that you may want to look at in more detail.

Haskell Community

Run by the Haskell team, the Haskell community is a hub of knowledge. You will find a list of resources to connect with the folks working with Haskell and a collection of sites where you can post your questions and get answers from experienced users. There is also a user group directory. You can use this directory to find people using Haskell for the same purposes as you.

Haskell Discourse

Haskell has a dedicated discourse community for users to ask and answer questions. The questions are sorted by their difficulty as well as activity on the platform. This serves as a great resource for folks who are new to the language and are looking for a targeted platform for resolving their queries.

How Hard is It to Learn Haskell?

Haskell is an easy language to start using. You could feasibly put together a simple application using Haskell within the very first week of learning. But to build more complex applications, you will need to devote a month or two to understand the fundamentals of the language.

Will Learning Haskell Help Me Find a Job?

Haskell is a highly sought-after skill in the technology industry. Employers hiring for software development positions like an associate or a senior software engineer often list Haskell as an essential skill or an important qualification. To help you understand the value of learning Haskell for your career, we have compiled a few job and salary statistics.

  • Salaries. PayScale reports that jobs that use Haskell pay, on average, $123,585 per year. Positions that use this skill include software engineer, software developer, senior software engineer, and principal software engineer.
  • Industry Growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developer positions will grow at a rate of 22% between 2019 and 2029. While not all of these positions will use Haskell, a considerable number of these professionals are likely to use functional programming languages.

Conclusion: Should You Learn Haskell?

Haskell is a programming language that makes it easy for developers to solve modern problems related to concurrency and parallelism. Using Haskell, developers can create large-scale applications rapidly.

Haskell is useful no matter what career in development you aim to pursue. It provides you with an alternate approach to programming, which can give you better ideas on how to solve conventional problems. It will come in handy no matter how senior of a software developer you currently are.

With attractive salaries, strong growth projections, and a relatively easy learning curve, Haskell has the potential to add a lot of value to your career.

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