Use Stackage for docs

December 20, 2014

GravatarMichael Snoyman

I'm writing this blog post to address a personal annoyance of mine as the maintainer of a large number of Haskell packages. Very often, I get bug reports about lack of documentation on Hackage. This has occurred for years. Most people who file these issues are not aware of the fact that lack of documentation error is more often than not a problem with Hackage. Some people are aware of this, and are asking me to start running a separate tool every time I upload a package to generate the documentation locally.

I have another annoyance with documentation on Hackage: I'm forced to write my package's description in a very strange Haddock-inside-cabal format in the cabal file itself. I need to write a description in any event in a README for users on Github, so this is purely wasted efforted.

To address both of these issues at the same time, I've started modifying the description field in my package's to give a link to their Stackage address. I'm doing this out of laziness on my part: I can now feel confident that documentation will be available at pages where people will be pointed to, I will hopefully get less needless issues opened about "Hackage documentation is broken," and I don't need to keep two meaningful descriptions of all of my packages written (one in the weird cabal/Haddock format, one in much nicer Markdown).

Others are clearly welcome to do this as well, but my main motivation here is explaining my reasoning for these changes, so I don't get a flood of new inquiries as to "why do you have such a strange description field in all your packages?" For those wishing to emulate this, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your package has a good README or README.md file with a description.
  2. Include the README or README.md file in the extra-source-files field of your cabal file.
  3. Update your description field with text like: "Hackage documentation generation is not reliable. For up to date documentation, please see: http://www.stackage.org/package/*name*."

UPDATE See my next blog post for aftermath of this.

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