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Real World Haskell: Code You Can Believe In

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  899 ratings  ·  33 reviews
This easy-to-use, fast-moving tutorial introduces you to functional programming with Haskell. You'll learn how to use Haskell in a variety of practical ways, from short scripts to large and demanding applications. Real World Haskell takes you through the basics of functional programming at a brisk pace, and then helps you increase your understanding of Haskell in ...more
Paperback, 720 pages
Published December 2nd 2008 by O'Reilly Media (first published October 15th 2008)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: Programmers looking to learn Haskell
I endorse this product and/or service.
Mark Seemann
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: software
This is both a great book, and a horrible book, for learning Haskell. In short, it's well-written, has good structure, and complete examples that enable you to follow along, but it's getting too old.

I feel I learned a lot from it, but it took a great deal of effort. Apart from breaks here and there, I started a year ago, and decided to devote one hour every morning to it. I also decide to rigorously type in everything in the book, in order to learn by doing.

What's good

The book introduces Haskell
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Finally done! I started reading this book before it was published. I stalled out several times, and restarted from the beginning, so some parts have been read 3 or 4 times. Eventually it became a proxy for learning Haskell. So it's hard to say I'm done.

I contributed a lot of stupid comments to the first several introductory chapters, and hopefully made them better. The book was reviewed on the web by many people, in a rather unique way, and I'm one of many proud to be listed as a reviewer in the
Hristo Deshev
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a book that was very, very hard to read. It took me several months. And frankly, with all the buzz about it, I was expecting a lot more.

Some of the chapters are brilliant. I really loved the ones about building a JSON serializer, parsing with Parsec, composing monads with monad transformers, and profiling memory and execution time.

Some of the chapters felt out of place. I am yet to find a reason for the barcode recognition chapter to exist. Same goes for the FFI chapter - do people need
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: tech
Unfortunately, this book was a disappointment for me. There are a lot of typos in the printed version, but it's not a biggest disadvantage. It was really hard to follow the book. I think that a lot of things are just in the wrong order. There are a lot of moments when you just get a lot of code in your face without any explanations. Also, I didn't really like that there are a lot of details about the domain of examples (barcodes, image formats etc.) that doesn't really help you in learning ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I've been reading this for nearly 6 months and have just finished. While very detailed and clear about some of the more complex areas of Haskell, I found some of the explanations a bit long winded. If you are looking for a good deep dive and already have some experience of Haskell I would recommend this book, but if you are new to it then I'd say to try Learn you a Haskell for great good first.
Bogdan Baranowicz
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: programming
There are two things that have to be separated: firstly, the book itself is written in a very decent way and guides you through the aspects of functional programming very nicely. As a result you can learn the theory in a pretty comprehensive way.

The other thing oscillates around Haskell itself - as a specific implementation and all the tools aimed at developing. While reading the books I was really amused with the potential hidden in the language, but everything disappeared during the coding. Ok
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: haskell
Don't try to read this book unless you have enough free time: it is too old and most of the examples are complete broken.

Anyways, four stars because it cover more than what I expected (actually I am trying to update the entire book. If you decide to spend time reading it would you lend me a hand?)
Antoine Savine
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: programming
A good book but not remotely as good as Programming in Haskell
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: software
For me, it was a very good introduction to the Haskell language and a good explanation of some questions I still had about some functional concepts.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book worked me over pretty hard. It covers the functional programming language Haskell, emphasizing its usage in real world applications. It really did a phenomenal job at this, despite the several times I could barely stop myself from throwing it across the room. But I kept chugging through it, no matter how bad it hurt. I did give up on it once, but picked it up again a few days later and kept going.

Many of the chapters I barely understood, but as the book progressed, they started feeling
Nov 27, 2015 rated it liked it
It took me forever to read this book from cover to cover. I've read it *very* sparingly, meaning that I read the first chapter in 2011 and only now, 2015, I'm done with it. I tried to study all the chapters very thoroughly and use other resources to complement my understanding.

I knew zero about Haskell and because this book focuses on practical (real world) examples, it's not the best choice for beginners. It's great for people intending to use Haskell professionally, but I'd recommend
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'll be brief. This is an excellent introduction to Haskell and functional programming. It doesn't waste space on trying to explain FP in terms of imperative or OO concepts, but makes the basic ideas very natural.

In particular, it has an excellent approach to monads, which succeeds in demystifying them. However, the explanation of monad transformers is less lucid and doesn't really get to the basic idea, which is just one type with the properties of more than one monad. As such it doesn't quite
Chris Maguire
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: back-burner
Ugh. I've tried to read this book five times. One day I'll get through it. It's fine (as far as I remember) until about one third or one half of the way through and then it gets really heavy and not well explained.

Update: Sept 7, 2014 - Attempt #6
Once again I'm reading "Learn You a Haskell For Great Good" as a primer.

Update: Feb 16, 2016 - Attempt #7
Starting reading it online at and found out I wasn't alone in some of my
Daniel Lyons
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book singlehandedly raised a generation of Haskell programmers. We went from writing Fibonacci sequence generators to writing web applications and systems utilities. I can't speak to whether this is a good introductory book, but it took me from beginner to intermediate/advanced and no book can take you further at this point. If you're curious about Haskell and don't need technical books to be cutesy, get this book.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Concepts are poorly explained, examples are confusing (sometimes broken). The website version of the book appears to have been abandoned by the authors too as none of the broken code/poor explanations have been updated.

After hearing so much good stuff about Real World Haskell, I'm *really* disappointed with this book so far (Just finished chapter 10).

Right now, I would recommend Learn You A Haskell instead (even though there are very little exercises).
Alain O'Dea
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This book made me think and made me solve problems myself, but I don't feel I came away from it with applicable skills. The topics were interesting and the examples were compelling, but I still wasn't able to "get" idiomatic Haskell after completing it. In fairness I was able to make some impactful Open Source contributions to GHC and Haskell libraries afterwards so perhaps my standards as too high.
Kostiantyn Rybnikov
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
It was good at its time, but now is rather outdated and still needs something to read before itself (like Learn You A Haskell).

Same as with LYAH book, instead of this one I will now recommend "Haskell Programming From First Principles" as the best book on learning Haskell.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Half of the chapters are really excellent while the rest were merely good.

If you found 'Learn you a Haskell for Great Good' to be too abstract, this book should make for a good followup for learning Haskell.

I'm really pleased that a beginner's book would discuss Monad Transformers and STM.
Zach May
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Clear and engaging, with useful examples. Somewhat more complete in terms of language features than The Haskell School of Expression, but both are worth having.
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Practical and a good beginner book.
Tim McGilchrist
Got bored with the pace of this book, instead I'm going to dive into the Learn You Some Haskell.
Fabian Linzberger
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
excellent overview about all the practical aspects of haskell programming
John Davis
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Much clearer and more immediately useful than Learn You A Haskell.
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
A thorough, and thoroughly excellent, introduction to the programming language Haskell.
Zach Moazeni
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are some issues with the text, however it's still overall the best Haskell resource I've found. The comments in were helpful too.
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I like the online version. Some code doesn't run though. The explaination is not complete. But the online commentary will help a lot!
Dave Thomas
Jan 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: programming
Never managed to get to the end, found it impenetrably boring.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is very hard to read but an excellent introduction to world of functional programming.
Anthony Grimes
Apr 16, 2013 rated it liked it
This is an excellent book to use as a reference. It's just so damned dry.
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