Opened 7 years ago

Closed 3 years ago

#4429 closed feature request (fixed)

Ability to specify the namespace in mkName

Reported by: reinerp Owned by: reinerp
Priority: low Milestone:
Component: Template Haskell Version: 6.12.3
Keywords: Cc: haskell@…, andy.adamsmoran@…
Operating System: Unknown/Multiple Architecture: Unknown/Multiple
Type of failure: None/Unknown Test Case: th/TH_lookupName
Blocked By: Blocking:
Related Tickets: Differential Rev(s):
Wiki Page:

Description (last modified by simonpj)


data Foo
data Bar = Foo

If we do reify (mkName "Foo") then we get the information about "Foo the type", and not about "Foo the constructor".

(This is problematic, say, for a quasiquoter

[qq| ... Foo ... |] 

because the quasiquoter is forced to use mkName "Foo" as the Name for reify -- the forms 'Foo and ''Foo are unavailable to it.)

I would like a way around this problem. It seems like it would be enough to communicate the namespace to mkName, so that the ambiguity no longer exists.

Attachments (3)

0001-Test-4429-5406.patch (9.7 KB) - added by reinerp 6 years ago. (121.3 KB) - added by reinerp 6 years ago.
New haddock docs
0001-First-effort-on-documentation.patch (26.1 KB) - added by reinerp 6 years ago.

Download all attachments as: .zip

Change History (38)

comment:1 Changed 7 years ago by simonpj

Description: modified (diff)

I think mkName is the wrong thing for you here. Fundamentally, you want to get the TH.Name of the data type called "Foo" that is currently in scope, yes? You could give that Name to reify, or you could use it in a type. Suppose we had

lookupType  :: String -> Q Name 
lookupValue :: String -> Q Name 

that were like mkName except that (a) they are monadic, and (a) they expect the string to be in scope. The would be the precise monadic equivalents of 'Foo and ''Foo. Would that do the job?

Anyone else have comments?


comment:2 Changed 7 years ago by reinerp

Yes, that would solve my problem.

comment:3 Changed 7 years ago by igloo

Milestone: 7.2.1

comment:4 Changed 6 years ago by benmachine

Cc: haskell@… added

comment:5 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

Here's an alternative signature, for which the above could be wrappers

lookupName :: TH.NameSpace -> String -> Q Name

And if the String looks like "M.x" then it should be treated as a qualified name, just as in source code.

Finally, the environment in which the name is looked up is the environment at splice point: it reads the environment captured in the monad. So for example:

module M where
  muggle :: Int
  muggle = 3       -- This binding is ignored

  foo :: Q Exp
  foo = do { n <- lookupName VarName "muggle"
           ; return (AppE (VarE 'negate) (VarE n) ) }

  bar :: Q Exp
  bar = [| \muggle -> muggle + $foo |]

module N where
  import M

  muggle :: Int
  muggle = 5

  test1 = $foo   -- Expands to (negate muggle)
  test2 = $bar   -- Expands to (\muggle' -> muggle' + muggle)

The splice $foo will run the code for foo, which consults N's environment (not M's!), to get the Name for N.muggle. The net result is very similar as if you'd used mkName "muggle", except that it still works if there is an intervening binding that accidentally has the same name, as in test. Subtle stuff.

comment:6 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Would you perhaps consider adding some way to recover from failed lookups? For instance, by returning a Maybe:

lookupName :: TH.NameSpace -> String -> Q (Maybe Name)

or alternatively somehow via qRecover?

The reason I ask this is that it should be possible for ordinary Template Haskell users to implement the "totally fresh" semantics I was looking for in #5375 using lookupName, as follows:

  • generate a long string at random
  • look it up with lookupName. If the lookup fails, then we have a fresh name, otherwise loop.

comment:7 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

Yes of course. I was thinking that the lookup would fail, and you could catch the exception with qRecover. But perhaps a Maybe is better because it signals more explicitly that the lookup might fail.

comment:8 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

I'm about to commit a patch implementing this change. In the end I did not give a NameSpace argument because NameSpace is currently an opaque type. Really what we want is just to say "type namspace" or "value namespace", so I ended up with two functions

lookupTypeName  :: String -> Q (Maybe Name)
lookupValueName :: String -> Q (Maybe Name)

Both end up mapping to the same method of the Quasi class

class Quasi m where
 lookupName :: Bool -> String -> m (Maybe Name)

The Bool is True for the type namespace, and False for values. Not beautiful, but most users will use the lookupTypeName and lookupValueName interfaces.

Any objections yell now!


comment:9 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Fine by me. Thanks for implementing this.


comment:10 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj@…

commit 10c882760aea96a679a98bf76a603c1eeb99ecb8

Author: Simon Peyton Jones <>
Date:   Tue Aug 23 13:46:43 2011 +0100

    Implement lookupTypeName/lookupValueName, and reification of type family instances
    This patch (and its TH counterpart) implements
       Trac #4429 (lookupTypeName, lookupValueName)
       Trac #5406 (reification of type/data family instances)
    See detailed discussion in those tickets.
    TH.ClassInstance is no more; instead reifyInstances returns a [Dec],
    which requires fewer data types and natuarally accommodates family
    'reify' on a type/data family now returns 'FamilyI', a new data
    constructor in 'Info'

 compiler/typecheck/TcHsType.lhs |    2 +-
 compiler/typecheck/TcSplice.lhs |  163 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++----------
 2 files changed, 121 insertions(+), 44 deletions(-)

comment:11 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

Status: newinfoneeded

Done. Reiner: could you supply a regression test, please?

Thanks, Simon

comment:12 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

The patches for the template-haskell library appear to be missing. Should I do more than just sync-all pull?

comment:13 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

Sorry my fault. Now pushed.

comment:14 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

I've attached a patch with regression tests for this and #5406.

I'd appreciate it if you had a look at the shadowing tests in TH_lookupName.hs. I'm not sure if the current behaviour is correct.

My specific question is what should this do:

{-# LANGUAGE TemplateHaskell #-}
import Language.Haskell.TH

f = "global"

main = print [
  $( [| let f = "local" in $(do { Just n <- lookupValueName "f"; varE n }) |] ),
  $( [| let f = "local" in $(varE 'f) |] ),
  let f = "local" in $(do {Just n <- lookupValueName "f"; varE n }),
  let f = "local" in $(varE 'f)

This currently prints ["global","local","local","local"]. Should the first two really give different results?

Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Attachment: 0001-Test-4429-5406.patch added

comment:15 Changed 6 years ago by igloo

Status: infoneededpatch

comment:16 in reply to:  14 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

Status: patchinfoneeded

Replying to reinerp:

This currently prints ["global","local","local","local"]. Should the first two really give different results?

Well, yes, that's the current deal. All reify operations consult the environment at the point of the enclosing top-level splice. For a more extreme example, consider

module M where
  funny :: Q Exp
  funny = do { Just n <- lookupValueName "f"; varE n }
  f :: Int
  f = 3

module Top where
  import M
  me = $(funny)

  f :: Bool
  f = True

Here the lookupValueName consults the environment at the top-level splice, which in this case in in module Top, not in M. So the expanded code will bind to Top.f not to M.f.

Doing anything else would be hard, and this is consistent with what happens for all other reification.

None of this is documented. If I could ask one last favour, would you feel able to expand (or re-structure) the user manual section about Template Haskell This could range from no-op, through at least documenting the key operations (like reify).

Hmm. A complementary (and perhpas better) alternative would be to look at the ridiculously scanty Haddock documentation in Language.Haskell.TH: Simply documenting the types and operations properly would be a huge step forward.

Thanks for considering this. Needless to say I'd be more than happy to answer queries that arise when doing so.


comment:17 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

PS I pushed the testsuite patch, thank you!

comment:18 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Alright, I'm working on documentation. My first effort is on improving the Haddock documentation for Language.Haskell.TH. I'll keep you posted.

comment:19 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Status: infoneedednew

comment:20 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Owner: set to reinerp

comment:21 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

I'm wondering about the Maybe Dec field in the VarI constructor of Info. Is it ever a Just? My understanding is that reify should return a Just when the RHS is available, but I can't get this to happen. For example, this code:

f = 0
$( do { inf <- reify (mkName "f"); runIO (print inf); [d| |] })


VarI ReifyVar.f (VarT a_1946157057) Nothing (Fixity 9 InfixL)

comment:22 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Here's the complete code for the above example:

{-# LANGUAGE TemplateHaskell #-}
module ReifyVar where
import Language.Haskell.TH

f = 0
$( do { inf <- reify (mkName "f"); runIO (print inf); [d| |] })

comment:23 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

I've got a similar question, this time about TyVarI. Consider this example:

{-# LANGUAGE TemplateHaskell, ScopedTypeVariables, TypeFamilies #-}
module ReifyTyVar where

import Language.Haskell.TH

f :: forall a. a -> a
f x = $( do { inf <- reify (mkName "a"); runIO (print inf); [| x |] })

g :: forall b. (b ~ Int) => b -> b
g x = $( do { inf <- reify (mkName "b"); runIO (print inf); [| x |] })

The following is printed at compile time:

TyVarI b_1627390992 (VarT b_1627391179)
TyVarI a_1627390993 (VarT a_1627393676)

In both of these cases, the Type field of TyVarI is just a VarT of the Name field.

Are there any examples where this is not the case? I thought that g might be such an example, because the type coercion b ~ Int is available, but apparently not.

comment:24 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

It looks as if I never implemented the Just dec part of VarI! It's not straightforward

  • We don't have source-code defintions for imported Ids. They've all been converted to Core, and even the Core may not be available if the defn is big.
  • In principle we do have source code for local-defined Ids, but at the moment we don't carry around a mapping from Ids to their definitions.

So currently you always get Nothing. I don't want to change that until it becomes a pressing need for someone, but you are dead right that it should be documented. Just say "always Nohthing" for now!

For TyVarI, the situation is this: there is a lexically-scoped, source-code type variable name that maps to an internal type variable, of the sort that appears in types. In principle, you could imagine a system in which a lexically scoped type varaible maps to a type not a type variable:

f :: Int -> Int
f (x::a) = 3::a

Here 'a' maps to 'Int'. Now in fact GHC's design insists that source-language type varaibles map to internal variables, but I didn't want to bake that in too much. And I'm not certain that I guarantee they map to distinct type variables.

This is all a bit confusing. I think a better design would indeed identify these internal and external type variables -- the distinction is confusing. But it's another swamp I don't want to enter just yet.

Does that help?

Thank you for doing the documentation!

comment:25 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Yep, that's what I wanted to know. Thanks for clarifying.

Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

Attachment: added

New haddock docs

Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

comment:26 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

I just attached the progress I've made so far (as a patch, and also as prebuilt html files), and I would appreciate some feedback.

I reordered a lot of the exports in Language.Haskell.TH and Language.Haskell.TH.Syntax to create an order which made more sense to me, and to break things up into sections.

My patch actually includes a few small changes to the API as well:

  • I added functions reportError = report True and reportWarning = report False, which I think are present a better API than report :: Bool -> String -> Q ()
  • I added some type synonyms, ParentName, Arity, Unlifted for Info type
  • I exported unboxedTupleTypeName and unboxedTupleDataName from Language.Haskell.TH, since it seems to have simply been an accident that they were omitted.

There were a few other changes I refrained from making, but have described at #5469.


comment:27 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

Great progress, thank you. I'm happy. Do you need any specific feedback?


comment:28 Changed 6 years ago by reinerp

I guess the main thing I'd like confirmation on is whether it's okay for me to make small API changes as I've been doing so far, or should I leave these out and just make documentation changes for now?

comment:29 Changed 6 years ago by simonpj

By all means propose API changes. The API benefits from the attention you are giving it.

comment:30 Changed 5 years ago by igloo

Priority: normallow

comment:31 Changed 5 years ago by simonpj

difficulty: Unknown

Reiner, I'm not sure what the status is on this ticket. Now that we've done #5469, do you want to revisit this?


comment:32 Changed 5 years ago by igloo


comment:33 Changed 4 years ago by morabbin

Cc: andy.adamsmoran@… added

comment:34 Changed 3 years ago by thoughtpolice


Moving to 7.10.1.

comment:35 Changed 3 years ago by thomie

Milestone: 7.10.1
Resolution: fixed
Status: newclosed
Test Case: th/TH_lookupName

It looks like work for this ticket was finished a long time ago. Actual changes in comment:10, documentation and test in the following 2 commits:

Commit d27c4541937219b60551a75662df805f0e6e54a1:

Author: Simon Peyton Jones <>
Date:   Mon Jul 16 17:42:49 2012 +0100

    Add documentation for Template Haskell functions
    Thanks to Reiner Pope for doing this

Commit dee226ccbaa091c9c8214f8764a6ebeaa0634587:

Author: Reiner Pope <>
Date:   Wed Aug 24 09:41:09 2011 +1000

    Test #4429, #5406
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