breakpoint: Set breakpoints using a GHC plugin

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A plugin that allows you to set breakpoints for debugging purposes.

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Dependencies ansi-terminal (>=1.0 && <2.0), base (>= && <, containers (>=0.6.5 && <0.8), deepseq (>=1.0 && <1.6), ghc (>=9.4.0 && <9.11), haskeline (>=0.8.2 && <0.9), mtl (>=2.2.2 && <2.4), pretty-simple (>=4.1.2 && <4.2), template-haskell (>=2.18.0 && <2.23), text (>=1.2.5 && <2.2), transformers (>=0.5.6 && <0.7) [details]
License MIT
Author Aaron Allen
Category Development
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Uploaded by aaronallen8455 at 2024-05-20T21:54:08Z
Distributions Arch:, Fedora:, LTSHaskell:, NixOS:, Stackage:
Reverse Dependencies 3 direct, 6 indirect [details]
Downloads 893 total (53 in the last 30 days)
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Status Docs available [build log]
Last success reported on 2024-05-20 [all 1 reports]

Readme for breakpoint-

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The ability to set breakpoints in a program can provide valuable insights when debugging. While GHCi has built-in support for setting breakpoints, it is not actively maintained and suffers from several critical limitations:

  • It's prohibitively buggy when used with concurrent programs, such as web servers.
  • Breakpoints can only be set in interpreted code.
  • Occasionally it simply doesn't work at all.

The breakpoint library solves these problems by implementing breakpoints as a GHC plugin.


Add breakpoint as a dependency to your project then enable breakpoints in a module by adding {-# OPTIONS_GHC -fplugin Debug.Breakpoint #-} to the top of the file and importing the Debug.Breakpoint module. You can then use the breakpoint, breakpointIO, or breakpointM functions as appropriate to set a breakpoint.

  • breakpoint :: a -> a is for use in pure code. Apart from the side-effect of setting a breakpoint, it is the identity function. The value passed to breakpoint will appear as a variable called *result in the output.
  • breakpointIO :: MonadIO m => m () is for monadic code that can perform IO.
  • breakpointM :: Applicative f => f () is for arbitrary Applicative contexts.

breakpoint and breakpointM both use unsafePerformIO which means they are at the mercy of the simplifier and all the other pitfalls of lazy IO. For this reason, it's generally preferable to use breakpointIO in contexts that support it.

Here's an example module:

{-# OPTIONS_GHC -fplugin Debug.Breakpoint #-}

import Debug.Breakpoint

main :: IO ()
main = do
  x <- getLine
  let y = 2 :: Int
      z = id :: Bool -> Bool
  pure ()

When the breakpoint expression gets evaluated, you will see terminal output such as

### Breakpoint Hit ###
x =

y =

z =
  <Bool -> Bool>

Press enter to continue

showing the location of the breakpoint and the free variables that are visible from the callsite, this includes function arguments, let bindings, where binds, monadic binds, pattern binds, etc.

If the type of a value has a Show instance then that will be used to generate the printed value, otherwise the output will contain the type of the value within angle brackets.

Execution of the program effectively halts on waiting for user input. In concurrent programs, all threads will be stopped, not just the one executing the breakpoint.

Querying variables

In contrast to the standard breakpoint functions which print out the values for all current variables, the queryVars, queryVarsM, and queryVarsIO functions first print the variables names and then initiate a prompt where you can enter a specific variable name to have its value printed.

This is useful if you are only interested in certain values or if printing one or more values would result in a non-terminating process (an infinite data structure for example).

You can tab-complete variable names at the query prompt. Only the current thread is blocked while the prompt is active. To resume execution, press enter with a blank line.


  • Currently supports GHC version 9.2.x - 9.8.x
  • Printing values may cause thunks to be evaluated earlier than they otherwise would which could be problematic for programs that rely heavily on laziness.
  • ApplicativeDo can sometimes cause variables that are in scope to not be traced.
  • Implicit params are not currently supported
  • RecursiveDo binds aren't visible before they are bound, despite being in scope.
  • If there is anything buffered in stdin then that will interfere with the blocking mechanism.
  • On Windows or when using the non-threaded runtime, calls to threadDelay are not suspended by breakpoints in the sense that time continues to elapse, however they won't unblock until the breakpoint finishes.
  • Variables being traced cannot have a type that contains type variables with class constraints, otherwise you get a compiler error. This happens most commonly with a where clause binding that lacks a type signature. You can deal with this by using excludeVars or giving a type signature to the binding that doesn't introduce such type variables.