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GHC Commentary: The Compiler

The compiler itself is written entirely in Haskell, and lives in the many sub-directories of the compiler directory. Here is a block diagram of its top-level structure:


The GHC API is the interface exported by compiler/main/GHC.hs. To compile a Haskell module that uses the GHC API, use the flag -package ghc (in GHC 6.6 and later). GHC itself contains a few front-ends:

  • The "one-shot" mode, where GHC compiles each file on the command line separately (eg. ghc -c Foo.hs). This mode is implemented directly on top of HscMain, since it compiles only one file at a time. In fact, this is all that GHC consisted of prior to version 5.00 when GHCi and --make were introduced.

Note that since GHC is packaged as a single binary, all of these front-ends are present, and there is a single command-line interface implemented in compiler/main/Main.hs.

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