The Design of a Pretty-printing Library
Much of the power of functional programming languages depends on the support
they offer for software reuse. To take full advantage of it, the
functional programmer should approach a new application area by identifying
the programming idioms common in that area, and defining them as
(probably) higher-order functions. Each particular application program can
then be built largely by combining these functions, rather than writing `new
code'. Programming with such an approach is very rapid once the library of
combinators is defined, and programs are often correct first time since they
are built by assembling correct components.
The question addressed in this paper is: how should libraries of
combinators be designed? Our goal is to show how we can use formal
specification of the combinators, and a study of their algebraic properties,
to guide both the design and implementation of a combinator library. Our case
study is a library for pretty-printing. But the methods we present are of
wider applicability, and we also show how they can be used to develop a number
of different monads.
The paper is available here, and here is a bibtex entry.
Last modified: Fri Aug 9 10:42:27 MET DST 1996