Every time I build a Haskell package—whether using
cabal-dev, whether something from Hackage or a development version of my own package—I always do a
--dry-run first, and inspect the install plan to make sure it looks reasonable. I’m sure I’m not the only person who does this (in fact, if you don’t do this, perhaps you should).
But what is meant by "reasonable"? Really, what I look for are versions of packages being installed which are not the latest versions available on Hackage. Sometimes this is fine, if the package I am installing, or one of its dependencies, legitimately can’t use the most cutting-edge version of some package. But sometimes it indicates a problem—the upper bound on some dependency needs to be updated. (Note that I’m not trying to get into the upper bounds vs. no upper bounds debate here; just stating facts.)
To help automate this process, I threw together a little tool that I’ve just uploaded to Hackage: highlight-versions. If you take an install plan generated by
--dry-run (or any output containing package identifiers like
foo-0.3.2) and pipe it through
highlight-versions, it will highlight any packages that don’t correspond to the latest version on Hackage.
For example, suppose running
cabal-dev install --dry-run generates the following output:
$ cabal-dev install --dry-run Resolving dependencies... In order, the following would be installed (use -v for more details): Boolean-0.0.1 NumInstances-1.0 colour-2.3.3 dlist-0.5 data-default-0.5.0 glib-0.12.3.1 newtype-0.2 semigroups-0.8.4 split-0.1.4.3 transformers-0.2.2.0 cmdargs-0.9.7 comonad-22.214.171.124 contravariant-0.2.0.2 mtl-126.96.36.199 cairo-0.12.3.1 gio-0.12.3 pango-0.12.3 gtk-0.12.3.1 semigroupoids-3.0 void-0.5.7 MemoTrie-0.5 vector-space-0.8.2 active-0.1.0.2 vector-space-points-0.1.1.1 diagrams-core-0.5.0.1 diagrams-lib-0.5.0.1 diagrams-cairo-0.5.1
This is a big wall of text, and nothing is obvious just from staring at it. But piping the output through
highlight-versions gives us some helpful information:
$ cabal-dev install --dry-run | highlight-versions Resolving dependencies... In order, the following would be installed (use -v for more details): Boolean-0.0.1 NumInstances-1.0 colour-2.3.3 dlist-0.5 data-default-0.5.0 glib-0.12.3.1 newtype-0.2 semigroups-0.8.4 split-0.1.4.3 (0.2.0.0) transformers-0.2.2.0 (0.3.0.0) cmdargs-0.9.7 (0.10) comonad-188.8.131.52 contravariant-0.2.0.2 mtl-184.108.40.206 (2.1.2) cairo-0.12.3.1 gio-0.12.3 pango-0.12.3 gtk-0.12.3.1 semigroupoids-3.0 void-0.5.7 MemoTrie-0.5 vector-space-0.8.2 active-0.1.0.2 vector-space-points-0.1.1.1 diagrams-core-0.5.0.1 diagrams-lib-0.5.0.1 diagrams-cairo-0.5.1 (0.5.0.2)
We can immediately see that there are newer versions of the
mtl packages (and precisely what those newer versions are). We can also see that the version of
diagrams-cairo to be installed is newer than the version on Hackage (since this is a development version). These aren’t necessarily problems in and of themselves, but in my experience, if you don’t know why
cabal-dev have chosen outdated versions of some packages, it’s probably worth investigating. (
--dry-run -v3 can help here.) This is also useful when uploading new versions of packages, to make sure they work with the latest and greatest stuff on Hackage. In this case the problems are just because of some changes I made to the
.cabal file for the purposes of this blog post, making some upper bounds too restrictive, but in general it could be due to other dependencies as well.