Import modules properly

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Revision as of 07:11, 28 May 2008 by Lemming (talk | contribs) (Prelude)
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Haskell has a lot of variants of importing identifiers from other modules. However not all of them are as comfortable as they seem to be at the first glance. We recommend to focus on the following two forms of import:

import qualified Very.Special.Module as VSM
import Another.Important.Module (printf)

instead of

import Very.Special.Module
import Another.Important.Module hiding (open, close)

Stylistic reason: If you read printf or in the program you can find out easily where the identifier comes from. In the second case you don't know if these identifiers are from Very.Special.Module, Another.Important.Module or even other modules. Mind you that grep won't help, because Very.Special.Module and Another.Important.Module might just re-export other modules.

Compatibility reason: In the second case, if new identifiers are added to the imported modules they might clash with names of other modules. Thus updating imported modules may break your code. It may also be that was deprecated when you hid it, and with a module update removing that identifier, your import fails. That is, an identifier that you never needed but only annoyed you, annoys you again, when it was meant to not bother you any longer! The first variant of import does not suffer from these problems.

Correctness reason: I once found a bug in the StorableVector package by converting anonymous imports to explicit imports. I found out that the function Foreign.Ptr.plusPtr was imported, although functions from this module always have to calcuate with unit "element" not "byte". That is, advancePtr must be used instead. Actually, the reverse function used plusPtr and this was wrong. A misbehaviour could only be observed for sub-vectors and elements with size greater than 1 byte. The test suite did miss that.

Exception from the rule

Since the Prelude is intended to be fixed for the future, it should be safe to use the hiding clause when importing Prelude. Actually if you do not mention Prelude it will be imported anonymously.

See also