Preface is an opinionated library designed to facilitate the handling of recurring functional programming idioms in OCaml. Many of the design decisions were made in an attempt to calibrate, as best as possible, to the OCaml language. Trying to get the most out of the module language. The name “preface” is a nod to “Prelude”.
When learning functional programming, one is often confronted with constructs derived (or not) from category theory. Languages such as Haskell offer very complete libraries to use them, and thus, facilitate their learning. In OCaml, it often happens that these abstractions are buried in the heart of certain libraries/projects (Lwt, Cmdliner,Bonsai, Dune etc.). This is why one of the objectives of Preface is to propose tools for concretising these abstractions, at least as a pedagogical tool.
Is Preface useful
Since OCaml allows for efficient imperative programming, Preface is probably not really useful for building software. However, we (the maintainers) think that Preface can be useful for a few things:
- technical experimentation with abstractions (especially those from the Haskell world) that allow programming in a fun style.
- As an educational tool. Many teaching aids generally only offer the minimal interfaces to these abstractions. Preface tries to be as complete as possible.
- It was a lot of fun to make. The last point is obviously the lightest but building Preface was really fun! So even if some people won’t see the point… we had fun making it!..
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