Mundane Utility: A Functional Shell

Functional programming is a useful technique. We spend a lot of time discussing it in the context of hard, challenging or interesting problems, but no where nearly enough in the context of mundane problems.

The UNIX shell, or command line interpreter. A simple, but useful program too often mistaken as complex, or mysterious. Almost every programmer is exposed to shells from a users perspective, but far fewer have ever implemented one, or even know where to start.

This talk aims to be a fun look at using functional programming in and around a traditional, some would say mundane, system utility. We will work through the concepts involved with implementing your own shell, and live code our way to a basic functional shell implemented in Haskell.

From this talk, attendees will walk a way with a better understanding of a program they use every day, as well as ideas and inspiration around using functional programming to solve mundane programming problems.


Time to get hands-on. In the talk ‘Mundane Utility: A Functional Shell’ we learned the basic responsibilities and structure of a shell, now is the opportunity to build a shell optimized for you.

In this jam, you will be asked to build up your own shell. There will be a starting structure in Haskell, but the problem can be approached in almost any language with decent Unix and process management APIs.

To solve the problem, you will need to tackle: command parsing and validation; concurrent process management; and input/output handling. Throughout the jam we will work through neat functional solutions for each of these, as well as looking at the overall approach to designing a robust functional program.

At the conclusion of the jam we will compare the solutions and the potentially unique features that appear from people tackling this problem in a novel, functional, manner.


Target Audience


schedule Submitted 7 months ago