Abandoning Hakyll

Posted on by Chris Warburton

For a while I've been using Hakyll to manage this site, but I've recently switched over to Make.

Whilst Hakyll's use of Haskell certainly makes it nice to abstract over and compose common functionality, I've found that pretty much all of that functionality is boilerplate; trivially expressed in other ways, eg. shell commands. For example, Hakyll uses Pandoc to render pages, which is an excellent choice. However, since making my Pandoc-based active code system, I've replaced Hakyll's use of Pandoc with a shell invocation. Likewise, every other feature of Hakyll I was using turns out to be a boilerplate-heavy reimplementation of tasks which are trivial to perform with shell commands; especially so considering that I can use PanPipe to run shell commands during rendering (that's how pages like my blog post listing are now implemented).

The only feature that's non-trivial is the cache used for deciding when to build/rebuild something. However, there's already a widely used, dedicated tool for doing exactly that, which integrates well with shell commands: Make. I know it's clunky and awkward at times, but I figured I'd go with the most widely-used Free Software implementation to start with, and only switch to something else if I deem it necessary. So far, the dependency ordering of Make is much more reliable than Hakyll's (I'd usually do a full rebuild with Hakyll; not so with Make).

I've not quite ported everything over; for example, I need to put some scripts in the RSS and ATOM templates to scan for blog posts, but it certainly seems much nicer and more self-contained to embed scripts where they're needed, rather than setting up elaborate template systems.