Difference between revisions of "Xmonad/Guided tour of the xmonad source"
(additional content: notes on other functions in StackSet.hs) 
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+  [[Category:XMonad]] 

+  
== Introduction == 
== Introduction == 

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You'll want to have your own version of the xmonad source code to refer to as you read through the guided tour. In particular, you'll want the latest 
You'll want to have your own version of the xmonad source code to refer to as you read through the guided tour. In particular, you'll want the latest 

−  [ 
+  [https://gitscm.com/ git] version, which you can easily download by issuing the command: 
−  +  git clone https://github.com/xmonad/xmonad 

⚫  
+  I intend for this guided tour to keep abreast of the latest changes; if you see something which is out of sync, report it on the xmonad mailing list, or  even better  fix it! 

−  runhaskell Setup haddock 

⚫  You may also want to refer to the [http://www.haskell.org/haddock/ Haddock]generated documentation (it's all in the source code, of course, but may be nicer to read this way). XMonad uses [https://docs.haskellstack.org/en/stable/README/ stack] which can be used to build the documentation. Go to the root of the xmonad source directory and issue the command: 

⚫  
+  stack haddock 

+  
⚫  
+  
+  Of course, the documentation of the latest release can also be found [https://hackage.haskell.org/package/xmonad online]. 

Without further ado, let's begin! 
Without further ado, let's begin! 

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== StackSet.hs == 
== StackSet.hs == 

−  StackSet.hs is the pure, functional heart of xmonad. Far removed from 

⚫  StackSet.hs is the pure, functional heart of xmonad. Far removed from corrupting pollutants such as the IO monad and the X server, it is a beautiful, limpid pool of pure code which defines most of the basic data structures used to store the state of xmonad. It is heavily validated by [http://www.cs.chalmers.se/~rjmh/QuickCheck/ QuickCheck] tests; the combination of good use of types and QuickCheck validation means that we can be very confident of the correctness of the code in StackSet.hs. 

−  corrupting pollutants such as the IO monad and the X server, it is 

−  a beatiful, limpid pool of pure code which defines most of the basic 

−  data structures used to store the state of xmonad. It is heavily 

⚫  
−  
−  ===<hask>StackSet</hask>=== 

−  
−  The <hask>StackSet</hask> data type is the mothertype which stores (almost) all 

−  of xmonad's state. Let's take a look at the definition of the 

−  <hask>StackSet</hask> data type itself: 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  data StackSet i l a sid sd = 

−  StackSet { current :: !(Screen i l a sid sd)  ^ currently focused workspace 

−  , visible :: [Screen i l a sid sd]  ^ nonfocused workspaces, visible in xinerama 

−  , hidden :: [Workspace i l a]  ^ workspaces not visible anywhere 

−  , floating :: M.Map a RationalRect  ^ floating windows 

−  } deriving (Show, Read, Eq) 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  First of all, what's up with <hask>i l a sid sd</hask>? These are ''type parameters'' to <hask>StackSet</hask>five types which must be provided to form a concrete instance of <hask>StackSet</hask>. It's not obvious just from this definition what they represent, so let's talk about them first, so we have a better idea of what's going on when they keep coming up later. 

−  
−  * The first type parameter, here represented by <hask>i</hask>, is the type of ''workspace tags''. Each workspace has a tag which uniquely identifies it (and which is shown in your status bar if you use the DynamicLog extension). At the moment, these tags are simply <hask>String</hask>sbut, as you can see, the definition of <hask>StackSet</hask> doesn't depend on knowing exactly what they are. If, in the future, the xmonad developers decided that <hask>Complex Double</hask>s would make better workspace tags, no changes would be required to any of the code in StackSet.hs! 

−  
−  * The second type parameter <hask>l</hask> is somewhat mysteriousthere isn't much code in StackSet.hs that does much of anything with it. For now, it's enough to know that the type <hask>l</hask> has something to do with layouts; <hask>StackSet</hask> is completely independent of particular window layouts, so there's not much to see here. 

−  
−  * The third type parameter, <hask>a</hask>, is the type of a single window. 

−  
−  * <hask>sid</hask> is a screen id, which identifies a physical screen; as we'll see later, it is (essentially) <hask>Int</hask>. 

−  
−  * <hask>sd</hask>, the last type parameter to <hask>StackSet</hask>, represents details about a physical screen. 

−  
−  Although it's helpful to know what these types represent, it's 

−  important to understand that as far as <hask>StackSet</hask> is concerned, the 

−  particular types don't matter. A <hask>StackSet</hask> simply organizes data 

−  with these types in particular ways, so it has no need to know the 

−  actual types. 

−  
−  The <hask>StackSet</hask> data type has four members: <hask>current</hask> stores the 

−  currently focused workspace; <hask>visible</hask> stores a list of those 

−  workspaces which are not focused but are still visible on other 

−  physical screens; <hask>hidden</hask> stores those workspaces which are, well, 

−  hidden; and <hask>floating</hask> stores any windows which are in the floating 

−  layer. 

−  
−  A few comments are in order: 

−  
−  * <hask>visible</hask> is only needed to support multiple physical screens with Xinerama; in a nonXinerama setup, <hask>visible</hask> will always be the empty list. 

−  
−  * Notice that <hask>current</hask> and <hask>visible</hask> store <hask>Screen</hask>s, whereas <hask>hidden</hask> stores <hask>Workspace</hask>s. This might seem confusing until you realize that a <hask>Screen</hask> is really just a glorified <hask>Workspace</hask>, with a little extra information to keep track of which physical screen it is currently being displayed on: 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  data Screen i l a sid sd = Screen { workspace :: !(Workspace i l a) 

−  , screen :: !sid 

−  , screenDetail :: !sd } 

−  deriving (Show, Read, Eq) 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  * A note about those exclamation points, as in <hask>workspace :: !(Workspace i l a)</hask>: they are ''strictness annotations'' which specify that the fields in question should never contain thunks (unevaluated expressions). This helps ensure that we don't get huge memory blowups with fields whose values aren't needed for a while and lazily accumulate large unevaluated expressions. Such fields could also potentially cause sudden slowdowns, freezing, etc. when their values are finally needed, so the strictness annotations also help ensure that xmonad runs smoothly by spreading out the work. 

−  
−  * The <hask>floating</hask> field stores a <hask>Map</hask> from windows (type <hask>a</hask>,remember?) to <hask>RationalRect</hask>s, which simply store x position, y position, width, and height. Note that floating windows are still stored in a <hask>Workspace</hask> in addition to being a key of <hask>floating</hask>, which means that floating/sinking a window is a simple matter of inserting/deleting it from <hask>floating</hask>, without having to mess with any <hask>Workspace</hask> data. 

−  
−  ===<hask>StackSet</hask> functions=== 

−  
−  StackSet.hs also provides a few functions for dealing directly with 

−  <hask>StackSet</hask> values: <hask>new</hask>, <hask>view</hask>, and <hask>greedyView</hask>. For example, 

−  here's <hask>new</hask>: 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  new :: (Integral s) => l > [i] > [sd] > StackSet i l a s sd 

−  new l wids m  not (null wids) && length m <= length wids = StackSet cur visi unseen M.empty 

−  where (seen,unseen) = L.splitAt (length m) $ map (\i > Workspace i l Nothing) wids 

−  (cur:visi) = [ Screen i s sd  (i, s, sd) < zip3 seen [0..] m ] 

−   now zip up visibles with their screen id 

−  new _ _ _ = abort "nonpositive argument to StackSet.new" 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  If you're <hask>new</hask> (haha) to Haskell, this might seem dauntingly complex, 

−  but it isn't actually all that bad. In general, if you just take 

−  things slowly and break them down piece by piece, you'll probably be 

−  surprised how much you understand after all. 

−  
−  <hask>new</hask> takes a layout thingy (<hask>l</hask>), a list of workspace tags (<hask>[i]</hask>), 

−  and a list of screen descriptors (<hask>[sd]</hask>), and produces a new 

−  <hask>StackSet</hask>. First, there's a guard, which requires <hask>wids</hask> to be 

−  nonempty (there must be at least one workspace), and <hask>length m</hask> to be 

−  at most <hask>length wids</hask> (there can't be more screens than workspaces). 

−  If those conditions are met, it constructs a <hask>StackSet</hask> by creating a 

−  list of empty <hask>Workspace</hask>s, splitting them into <hask>seen</hask> and <hask>unseen</hask> 

−  workspaces (depending on the number of physical screens), combining 

−  the <hask>seen</hask> workspaces with screen information, and finally picking the 

−  first screen to be current. If the conditions on the guard are not 

−  met, it aborts with an error. Since this function will only ever be 

−  called internally, the call to <hask>abort</hask> isn't a problem: it's there 

−  just so we can test to make sure it's never called! If this were a 

−  function which might be called by users from their xmonad.hs configuration file, 

−  aborting would be a huge nono: by design, xmonad should never crash 

−  for ''any'' reason (even user stupidity!). 

−  
−  Now take a look at <hask>view</hask> and <hask>greedyView</hask>. <hask>view</hask> takes a workspace 

−  tag and a <hask>StackSet</hask>, and returns a new <hask>StackSet</hask> in which the given 

−  workspace has been made current. <hask>greedyView</hask> only differs in the way 

−  it treats Xinerama screens: <hask>greedyView</hask> will always swap the 

−  requested workspace so it is now on the current screen even if it was 

−  already visible, whereas calling <hask>view</hask> on a visible workspace will 

−  just switch the focus to whatever screen it happens to be on. For 

−  singlehead setups, of course, there isn't any difference in behavior 

−  between <hask>view</hask> and <hask>greedyView</hask>. 

−  
−  Note that <hask>view</hask>/<hask>greedyView</hask> do not ''modify'' a <hask>StackSet</hask>, but simply 

−  return a new one computed from the old one. This is a common purely 

−  functional paradigm: functions which would modify a data structure in 

−  an imperative/nonpure paradigm are recast as functions which take an 

−  old version of a data structure as input and produce a new version. 

−  This might seem horribly inefficient to someone used to a nonpure 

−  paradigm, but it actually isn't, for (at least) two reasons. First, a 

−  lot of work has gone into memory allocation and garbage collection, so 

−  that in a modern functional language such as Haskell, these processes 

−  are quite efficient. Second, and more importantly, the fact that 

−  Haskell is pure (modifying values is not allowed) means that when a 

−  new structure is constructed out of an old one with only a small 

−  change, usually the new structure can actually share most of the old 

−  one, with new memory being allocated only for the part that changed. 

−  In an impure language, this kind of sharing would be a big nono, 

−  since modifying the old value later would suddenly cause the new value 

−  to change as well. 

−  
−  ===<hask>Workspace</hask>=== 

−  
−  The <hask>Workspace</hask> type is quite simple. It stores a tag, a layout, and possibly a <hask>Stack</hask>: 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  data Workspace i l a = Workspace { tag :: !i, layout :: l, stack :: Maybe (Stack a) } 

−  deriving (Show, Read, Eq) 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  If there are no windows in a given workspace, <hask>stack</hask> will be <hask>Nothing</hask>; if there are windows, it will be <hask>Just s</hask>, where <hask>s</hask> is a nonempty <hask>Stack</hask> of windows. 

−  
−  There's not much else to say about it, which makes this a perfect chance to talk about record syntax. The basic way to define the <hask>Workspace</hask> type would be: 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  data Workspace i l a = Workspace i l (Maybe (Stack a)) 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  This simply specifies a single constructor for the <hask>Workspace</hask> type (perhaps somewhat confusingly, also called <hask>Workspace</hask>, although these are two different things) which has three components, of types <hask>i</hask>, <hask>l</hask>, and <hask>Maybe (Stack a)</hask>, respectively. The record syntax in the actual code wraps the components in curly braces, and adds a name associated with each component. These names automatically turn into accessor functions which allow us to extract the corresponding component from a value of type <hask>Workspace i l a</hask>. For example, <hask>tag</hask> becomes a function of type 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  tag :: Workspace i l a > i 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  Hence, we have two ways to get at the internals of any value whose type is defined using record syntax: patternmatching, or accessor functions. 

−  
−  === <hask>Stack</hask> === 

−  
−  The <hask>Stack</hask> type stores a list of the actual windows on a given workspace, along with a notion of the "current" window. Now, the "obvious" way to do this in an imperative language would be to store an array of windows along with an index into the array. However, this approach has several disadvantages: 

−  
−  * Creating a new window or deleting the current one would be O(n) operations, as all the windows to the right of the current location would have to be shifted by one in the array. 

−  * In Haskell, indexing into a list is O(n) anyway, and using an array library would be unwieldy here. 

−  * Much work must go into maintaining guarantees such as always having the current index be a valid index into the array, maintaining the ordering of the windows when shifting them around in the array, and so on. 

−  
−  Instead, a <hask>Stack</hask> uses an ingenious structure known as a ''list zipper'': 

−  
−  <haskell> 

−  data Stack a = Stack { focus :: !a  focused thing in this set 

−  , up :: [a]  clowns to the left 

−  , down :: [a] }  jokers to the right 

−  deriving (Show, Read, Eq) 

−  </haskell> 

−  
−  Instead of using a single list with some sort of index, the list is broken into three pieces: a current window (<hask>focus</hask>), the windows before that, in reverse order (<hask>up</hask>), and the windows after it (<hask>down</hask>). This has several nice properties: 

−  
−  * A <hask>Stack a</hask> cannot be empty, since it must always contain a current element. Remember, the possibility of an empty workspace is handled by the type of <hask>Workspace</hask>'s <hask>stack</hask> field, <hask>Maybe (Stack a)</hask>. 

−  * Shifting focus, adding a new window next to the current one, and reversing the window list are all simple O(1) operations. 

−  * There is not even the possibility of any sort of indexoutofbounds errors while keeping track of the current window. 

−  
−  For more information on zippers, the [http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/Zipper Zipper page on the Haskell wiki] and the [http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Haskell/Zippers chapter on zippers in the Haskell wikibook] are good starting places. 

−  ===Other functions=== 

+  [[/StackSet.hsContinue reading about StackSet.hs...]] 

−  At this point you should spend some time studying the rest of the functions in StackSet.hs, which provide various operations on <hask>Stack</hask>s and <hask>StackSet</hask>s. There are quite a few, but they are, for the most part, quite straightforward. Some general notes and commentary: 

+  == Core.hs == 

−  * The functions <hask>with</hask>, <hask>modify</hask>, and <hask>modify'</hask> are great examples of ''higherorder functions'', functions which take other functions as input. Haskell (and most functional languages) make such a thing easy and natural. For example, <hask>with</hask> applies a function to the current workspace's stack; <hask>modify</hask> essentially transforms a function on <hask>Stack</hask>s to a function on <hask>StackSet</hask>s, with some <hask>Maybe</hask> types thrown in to handle empty cases. 

+  The next source file to examine is Core.hs. It defines several core data types and some of the core functionality of xmonad. If StackSet.hs is the heart of xmonad, Core.hs is its guts. 

−  * The names of the functions <hask>integrate</hask> and <hask>differentiate</hask> may strike you as odd unless you know that there is an astonishing connection between derivatives (yes, from calculus) and zipper types. In short, finding the zipper of a given data type corresponds to finding a derivative. For more information, see the [http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Haskell/Zippers Haskell wikibook entry on zippers], or the paper by Conor McBride, [http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~ctm/diff.pdf The Derivative of a Regular Type is its Type of OneHole Contexts]. 

+  [[/Core.hsContinue reading about Core.hs...]] 

−  * Note how the implementation of functions such as <hask>focusUp</hask>/<hask>Down</hask>, <hask>swapUp</hask>/<hask>Down</hask>, and <hask>reverseStack</hask> are quite simple, thanks to higherorder functions and the zipper structure of <hask>Stack</hask>s. 

+  == Module structure of the core == 

−  * I sort of lied when I said that moving focus is O(1) with the zipper structure: in the one case that focus wraps around the end of the list, it is O(n). But it is still takes O(1) amortized time. 

+  [[Image:Xmonad2.svgThe module structure of the xmonad core]] 
Latest revision as of 09:09, 15 August 2017
Introduction
Do you know a little Haskell and want to see how it can profitably be applied in a realworld situation? Would you like to quickly get up to speed on the xmonad source code so you can contribute modules and patches? Do you aspire to be as cool of a hacker as the xmonad authors? If so, this might be for you. Specifically, this document aims to:
 Provide a readable overview of the xmonad source code for Haskell nonexperts interested in contributing extensions or modifications to xmonad, or who are just curious.
 Highlight some of the uniquenesses of xmonad and the things that make functional languages in general, and Haskell in particular, so ideally suited to this domain.
This is not a Haskell tutorial. I assume that you already know some basic Haskell: defining functions and data; the type system; standard functions, types, and type classes from the Standard Prelude; and at least a basic familiarity with monads. With that said, however, I do take frequent detours to highlight and explain more advanced topics and features of Haskell as they arise.
First things first
You'll want to have your own version of the xmonad source code to refer to as you read through the guided tour. In particular, you'll want the latest git version, which you can easily download by issuing the command:
git clone https://github.com/xmonad/xmonad
I intend for this guided tour to keep abreast of the latest changes; if you see something which is out of sync, report it on the xmonad mailing list, or  even better  fix it!
You may also want to refer to the Haddockgenerated documentation (it's all in the source code, of course, but may be nicer to read this way). XMonad uses stack which can be used to build the documentation. Go to the root of the xmonad source directory and issue the command:
stack haddock
which will generate HTML documentation in .stackwork/dist/<GHCVersion>/<CabalVersion>/doc/html/xmonad/.
Of course, the documentation of the latest release can also be found online.
Without further ado, let's begin!
StackSet.hs
StackSet.hs is the pure, functional heart of xmonad. Far removed from corrupting pollutants such as the IO monad and the X server, it is a beautiful, limpid pool of pure code which defines most of the basic data structures used to store the state of xmonad. It is heavily validated by QuickCheck tests; the combination of good use of types and QuickCheck validation means that we can be very confident of the correctness of the code in StackSet.hs.
Continue reading about StackSet.hs...
Core.hs
The next source file to examine is Core.hs. It defines several core data types and some of the core functionality of xmonad. If StackSet.hs is the heart of xmonad, Core.hs is its guts.
Continue reading about Core.hs...