hydra: Type-aware transformations for data and programs

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Hydra is a transformation toolkit along the lines of Dragon (Uber), but open source, and with a more advanced type system and other new features. Hydra maps data and schemas between languages in a way which maintains type conformance. It will even map functional programs between selected languages, including parts of its own source code.

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Versions [RSS] 0.1.0, 0.1.1
Change log CHANGELOG.md
Dependencies aeson (>=2.0.0 && <2.2), aeson-pretty (>=0.8.9 && <0.9), base (>=4.16.3 && <4.17), bytestring (>=0.11.3 && <0.12), containers (>=0.6.5 && <0.7), directory (>=1.3.6 && <1.4), filepath (>=1.4.2 && <1.5), HsYAML (>=0.2.1 && <0.3), scientific (>=0.3.7 && <0.4), split (>=0.2.3 && <0.3), text (>=1.2.5 && <1.3), unordered-containers (>=0.2.19 && <0.3), vector (>=0.12.0 && <0.14) [details]
License Apache-2.0
Author Joshua Shinavier <josh@fortytwo.net>
Maintainer Joshua Shinavier <josh@fortytwo.net>
Category Data
Home page https://github.com/CategoricalData/hydra#readme
Bug tracker https://github.com/CategoricalData/hydra/issues
Source repo head: git clone https://github.com/CategoricalData/hydra
Uploaded by joshsh at 2022-12-04T22:13:43Z
Downloads 102 total (5 in the last 30 days)
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Status Docs available [build log]
Last success reported on 2022-12-04 [all 1 reports]

Readme for hydra-0.1.1

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Hydra is a type-aware data transformation toolkit which aims to be highly flexible and portable. It has its roots in graph databases and type theory, and provides APIs in Haskell and Java. See the main Hydra README for more details. This Haskell package contains Hydra's Haskell API and Haskell sources specifically.


Haskell is the current source-of-truth language for Hydra, which means that most of the Hydra implementation is written either in "raw" Haskell or in a Haskell-based DSL. You can find the DSL-based sources here; anything written in the DSL is also mapped into the generated Scala and Java sources. You can find the generated Haskell sources here. To build Hydra and enter the GHCi REPL, use:

stack ghci

To run tests, use:

stack test

Code generation

It is a long-term goal for Hydra to generate its own source code into various languages, producing nearly-complete Hydra implementations in those languages. Both Haskell are fully supported as target languages, which means that all of Hydra's type and programs currently specified in the Haskell DSL are mapped correctly to both Haskell and Java. Scala support, on the other hand, is partial and experimental at this time.

You can generate Hydra's Haskell sources by first entering the GHCi REPL as above, then:

writeHaskell allModules "/path/to/CategoricalData/hydra/hydra-haskell/src/gen-main/haskell"

The first argument to writeHaskell is the list of modules you want to generate (in this case, a special list containing all built-in modules), and the second is the base directory to which the generated files are to be written. For individual modules, use list syntax, e.g.

writeHaskell [rdfSyntaxModule, shaclModelModule] "/path/to/CategoricalData/hydra/hydra-haskell/src/gen-main/haskell"

Java generation is similar, e.g.

writeJava allModules "/path/to/CategoricalData/hydra/hydra-java/src/gen-main/java"

Scala generation has known bugs, but you can try it out with:

writeScala coreModules "/path/to/CategoricalData/hydra/hydra-scala/src/gen-main/scala"

There is also schema-only support for PDL:

writePdl coreModules "/tmp/pdl"

Haskell API


The most important structural types in Hydra are Type and Term (provided in the generated Hydra.Core module in Haskell), and Graph and Element (provided in the generated Hydra.Mantle module). Type provides a datatype, and a Term is an instance of a known Type. An Element is a named term together with its type, and a Graph is a collection of elements. A Module is a collection of elements in the same logical namespace, sometimes called a "model" if most of the elements represent type definitions. The main purpose of Hydra is to define and carry out transformations between graphs, where those graphs may be almost anything which fits into Hydra's type system -- data, schemas, source code, transformations themselves, etc. "Graphs" in the traditional sense are partially supported at this time, including property graphs and RDF graphs.

Types, terms, graphs, elements, and many other things are parameterized by an annotation type, so you will usually see Type m, Term m, Context m, etc. The most common annotation type is called Meta (which is just a map of string-valued keys to terms), so you will also encounter Type Meta, etc.


Transformations in Hydra take the form of simple functions or, more commonly, expressions involving the Flow monad (a special case of the State monad, which has been implemented in many programming languages) as well as a bidirectional flow, called Coder and a two-level transformation (types and terms) called Adapter. All of these constructs are provided in the generated Hydra.Evaluation module in Haskell, along with the Context type which you will see almost everywhere in Hydra; a Context provides a set of graphs and their elements, a set of primitive functions, an evaluation strategy, and other constructs which are needed for computation. A context is part of the state which flows through a graph transformation as it is being applied.

In Haskell, you will often see Flow and Context combined as the GraphFlow alias:

type GraphFlow m = Flow (Context m)

There are two helper types, FlowWrapper and Trace, which are used together with Flow; a FlowWrapper is the result of evaluating a Flow, while Trace encapsulates a stack trace and error or logger messages. Since Flow is a monad, you can create a GraphFlow with f = pure x, where x is anything you would like to enter into a transformation pipeline. The transformation is actually applied when you call unFlow and pass in a graph context and a trace, i.e.

unFlow f cx emptyTrace

This gives you a flow wrapper, which you can think of as the exit point of a transformation. Inside the wrapper is either a concrete value (if the transformation succeeded) or Nothing (if the transformation failed), a stack trace, and a list of messages. You will always find at least one message if the transformation failed; this is analogous to an exception in mainstream programming languages.

A Coder, as mentioned above, is a construct which has a Flow in either direction between two types. As a trivial example, consider this coder which serializes integers to strings using Haskell's built-in show function, then reads the strings back to integers using read:

intStringCoder :: Coder () () Int String
intStringCoder = Coder {
  coderEncode = pure . show,
  coderDecode = pure . read}

The ()'s indicate that this coder is stateless in both directions, which makes the use of Coder overkill in this case. For a more realistic, but still simple example, see the JSON coder, which makes use of state for error propagation. For a more sophisticated example, see the Haskell coder or the Java coder; these make use of all of the facilities of a graph flow, including lexical lookups, type decoding, annotations, etc.


Constructing types and terms directly from the Type and Term APIs mentioned above is perfectly correct, but not very convenient. For example, the type of all lists of strings may be expressed as TypeList $ TypeLiteral LiteralTypeString, and a specific instance of that type (a term) may be expressed as TermList [TermLiteral $ LiteralString "foo", TermLiteral $ LiteralString "bar"].

Since all of the work of defining transformations in Hydra consists of specifying types and terms, we make the task (much) easier using domain-specific languages (DSLs). These DSLs are specific to the host language, so we have Haskell DSLs in hydra-haskell, and (similar, but distinct) Java DSLs in hydra-java. For example, the type of a list of strings is just list string if you include the Types DSL, and the specific list of strings we mentioned is just list [string "foo", string "bar"], or (better yet) list ["foo", "bar"]. There is additional syntactic sugar in Haskell which aim to make defining models and transformations as easy as possible; see the Sources directory for many examples.

Phantom types

A minority of Hydra's primary sources, rather than providing models (type definitions), provide collections of functions. For example, look at Basics.hs or Utils.hs. There are not many of these files because the syntax for constructing transformations natively in Hydra DSLs is still in flux, but you will notice that the type signatures in these modules look very different. For example, you will see signatures like Definition (Precision -> String) which appear to use native Haskell types such as String, or generated types like Precision, rather than Hydra's low-level constructs (Type, Term, etc.). This is a convenience for the programmer which will will be expanded upon as more of Hydra's kernel (indispensable code which is needed in each host language) is pulled out of raw Haskell and into the DSLs. If you are curious how these types work, see the Phantoms model and these slides. Phantom types are available both in Haskell and Java.