The Haskell School of Expression: Learning Functional Programming through Multimedia 4th Edition
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In agreement with other reviewers, this is not an optimal first Haskell book. The approach that worked best for me when ramping-up with Haskell was to use this text in combination with online tutorials and the O'Reilly "Real World Haskell" volume. This provided a good balance of essence, philosophy, coverage and practicality.
This book might have been a good contender for the title of "The Joy of Haskell". I enjoyed it and will keep referring back in moments when I want to recapture core functional programming concepts that apply not only to Haskell but to the functional programming genre as a whole.
That being said, the quality of the book construction itself is terrible. I know this is a paperback; I shouldn't expect too much. The paper is fairly dark, as standard for recycled paper. However, the ink is very faded. Sometimes letters or whole words are not fully inked and you have to guess what symbol was there. The little "Detail" boxes which aim to highlight asides are especially hard to read since the background is a medium gray, the washed-out text barely contrasts, and to make matters worse: these elements seem pixelated and blurred.
Overall: I wish I just bought the eBook version and printed it out myself. It would be better than this copy which seems to have been printed out of a 30 year old Xerox machine with a toner cartridge composed of pencil shavings. I'm never buying a physical copy of a Cambrige Press book again.
The cover is cool and trippy though
This book is a unique attempt to teach the reader the Haskell programming language by demonstrating how to write programs that perform interesting tasks such as animation, graphics, robot control, and functional music composition. The book succeeds at introducing the reader to the Haskell language and the idea of functional programming, and the book is a fascinating read with unique projects performed in the Haskell language. This is particularly true if you are interested in multimedia programming. However, intermediate features of the language are brushed over. If you are already familiar with Haskell, this book will teach you interesting ways to look at functional programming and give you some ideas for some interesting projects. If you are new to Haskell, you are going to find yourself somewhat confused when you get to the more advanced material. I therefore recommend that you read this book along with "Haskell:The Craft of Functional Programming" by Thompson. That book is not nearly as interesting as this book, but it fills in all of the intermediate details that are missing in a very detailed manner.
A generation ago, Abelson and Sussman wrote "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs," which brought world-shaping clarity to programming in the form of a generic, functional approach. In the time since then, "types" and "lazy evaluation" have fundamentally improved that overall approach, and Haskell is the rightful successor to Scheme as the best-of-breed of functional programming languages. That said, types and lazy evaluation are somewhat tricky to learn, and this book offers a fun and easy way to do it.
The software needed to run the samples in the book is free and works on Windows platforms (and possibly some others).
Buy it, work through every word of it, you won't regret it :)