Install Haskell and Emacs on macOS

Haskell is a purely functional programming language. I learned how to use it in my Programming Language Concepts class. Our professor asked us to use Emacs to edit all the Haskell and Agda code since there are plugins such as Haskell Mode that can let Emacs highlight Haskell code and compile them when needed.

In this blog post, I will talk about how to install Haskell and Emacs on Mac. There are some tricky things we need to notice in order to be able to use Haskell Mode on Mac. If you are using Windows, you can download the single installer for everything provided by my professor Aaron Stump from here.

We will also use Homebrew to install Haskell and Emacs here. If you have not installed Homebrew yet, please copy and past the following code to terminal to install Homebrew:

$ /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Install Haskell

I recommend installing Haskell Platform directly. It includes GHC, Cabal, and some other tools we may need to use later.

Copy and past the following code to Terminal to install Haskell Platform:

$ brew cask install haskell-platform

To make sure that Haskell is working correctly, we need to try ghci in terminal. Open a new terminal and type ghci. You should see something like this:

$ ghci
GHCi, version 8.2.2:  :? for help

Now let’s try some command:

Prelude> 1 + 2
Prelude> 2 * 3

In the end, you can type :q to quit:

Prelude> :q
Leaving GHCi.

Install Emacs

There are two ways to install Emacs.

The Emacs download page recommends using Homebrew:

$ brew install emacs --with-cocoa

To open and test Emacs, type emacs & in the terminal to open it.

However, if you install Emacs through Homebrew, it will take about five to ten minutes to compile. If you do not want to wait for the compiling time, you can download a compiled version from Emacs For Mac OS X website and move it to /Applications.

To open a compiled Emacs, type /Applications/ & in the terminal to open it. Although we can find Emacs logo in launchpad, I would not recommend to open it through launchpad. If you open Emacs through launchpad, it will use a different shell environment from the system shell and you will not be able to set up Haskell Mode in the next section.

Install and Set Up Haskell Mode

Create a file named .emacs in your home directory (~/) and put the following code in the file. If ~/.emacs is already existed, just edit it and put the following code at the end of the file.

    (("gnu" . "")
     ("melpa-stable" . "")))))
(eval-after-load "haskell-mode"
   '(define-key haskell-mode-map (kbd "C-c C-y") 'haskell-compile))

Now, restart Emacs. DO NOT open it through launchpad. Use the command I provided in the previous section.

Press Alt-x (Alt is ⌥ / opetion on Mac, Alt-x means pressing ⌥ / option and x at the same time) and type package-refresh-contents and then press return. Don’t worry if you see an error on the screen.

Next press Alt-x and typr package-install, and then press return, then type haskell-mode and press return again.

When the install finish, close Emacs. Add the following code to the end of ~/.emacs:

(require 'haskell-interactive-mode)
(require 'haskell-process)
(add-hook 'haskell-mode-hook 'interactive-haskell-mode)

Now, restart Emacs and open a Haskell file, you should be able to see the code is highlighted . You should also see (Haskell Interactive) in the Emacs mode line.