capability- Extensional capabilities and deriving combinators
Safe HaskellSafe-Inferred



A capability is a type class over a monad which specifies the effects that a function is allowed to perform. Capabilities differ from traditional monad transformer type classes in that they are completely independent of the way the monad is constructed. A state capability can for instance be implemented as a lens on a field in a larger state monad, or an error capability could provide for throwing only a subset of the errors of an error monad.

This library defines several standard, reusable capabilities that replace the mtl's monad-transformer type classes. Because capabilities are not tied to a particular implementation of the monad, they cannot be discharged by instance resolution. Instead this library provides combinators in the form of newtypes with instances, to be used with deriving-via. To learn about deriving via, watch Baldur Blondal's introductory video

By way of comparison, with the mtl you would write something like

foo :: (MonadReader E, MonadState S) => a -> m ()

You can use foo at type a -> ReaderT E (State S). But you can't use foo with the ReaderT pattern With this library, you would instead have:

foo :: (HasReader "conf" E, HasState "st" S) => a -> m ()

Where "conf" and "st" are the names (also referred to as tags) of the capabilities demanded by foo. Contrary to the mtl, capabilities are named, rather than disambiguated by the type of their implied state, or exception. This makes it easy to have multiple state capabilities.

To provide these capabilities, for instance with the ReaderT pattern, do as follows (for a longer form tutorial, check the README):

newtype MyM a = MyM (ReaderT (E, IORef s))
  deriving (Functor, Applicative, Monad)
  deriving (HasState "st" Int) via
    ReaderIORef (Rename 2 (Pos 2 ()
    (MonadReader (ReaderT (E, IORef s) IO))))
  deriving (HasReader "conf" Int) via
    (Rename 1 (Pos 1 ()
    (MonadReader (ReaderT (E, IORef s) IO))))

Then you can use foo at type MyM. Or any other type which can provide these capabilites.

Functional capabilities

When writing applications, as opposed to libraries, a capability name often determines its type parameters. It can be tiresome to write

f :: HasReader "config" Config m => …

over and over again.

To avoid this, each capability comes with a functional—here HasReader'—variant (in this terminology HasReader is relational). Where the type is deduced from the capability's name. The mapping from name to type is done with the TypeOf family, which is re-exported by every capability module.

type instance TypeOf Symbol "config" = Config

f :: HasReader' "config" m => …

Module structure

Each module introduces a capability type class (or several related type classes). Each class comes with a number of instances on newtypes (each newtype should be seen as a combinator to be used with deriving-via to provide the capability). Many newtypes come from the common Capability.Accessors module (re-exported by each of the other modules), which in particular contains a number of ways to address components of a data type using the generic-lens library.

The effects are not all independent:

    Source   Sink
    /   \    /   \
   /     \  /     \
Reader   State    Writer

Capability.Source and Capability.Sink have just a method each, and no laws. The bottom three, familiar from mtl, add methods and laws relating them. The use of tags allows one to have independent effects that share a superclass. E.g. HasState "foo" Int and HasWriter "bar" String.

Some of the capability modules have a “discouraged” companion (such as Capability.Writer.Discouraged). These modules contain deriving-via combinators which you can use if you absolutely must: they are correct, but inefficient, so we recommend that you do not.

Finally there are

  • Capability.Derive Which exports a (still experimental) derive function, which lets you run a computation which requires capabilities which are not directly provided by the ambient monad, but can be derived from the capabilities provided by the ambient monad.
  • Capability.Reflection Which exports interpret_ and interpret, which let you define an ad-hoc interpretation of a capability based on the capabilities provided by the ambient monad.

Further considerations

The tags of capabilities can be of any kind, they are not restricted to symbols. When exporting functions demanding capabilities in libraries, it is recommended to use a type as follows:

data Conf

foo :: HasReader Conf C => m ()

This way, Conf can be qualified in case of a name conflict with another library.