The ins and outs of Clean I/O
Peter Achten, Rinus Plasmeijer
Journal of functional programming
AbstractFunctional programming languages have banned assignment because of its undesirable properties. The reward of this rigorous decision is that functional programming languages are side-effect free. There is another side to the coin: because assignment plays a crucial role in Input/Output (I/O), functional languages have a hard time dealing with I/O. Functional programming languages have therefore often been stigmatised asinferior to imperative programming languages because they cannot deal
... with I/O very well. In this paper, we show that I/O can be incorporated in a functional programming language without loss of any of the generally accepted advantages of functional programming languages. This discussion is supported by an extensive account of the I/O system offered by the lazy, purely functional programming language Clean. Two aspects that are paramount in its I/O system make the approach novel with respect to other approaches. These aspects are the technique ofexplicit multiple environment passing, and theEvent I/O frameworkto program Graphical User I/O in a highly structured and high-level way. Clean file I/O is as powerful and flexible as it is in common imperative languages (one can read, write, and seek directly in a file). Clean Event I/O provides programmers with a high-level framework to specify complex Graphical User I/O. It has been used to write applications such as a window-based text editor, an object based drawing program, a relational database, and a spreadsheet program. These graphical interactive programs are completely machine independent, but still obey the look-and-feel of the concrete window environment being used. The specifications are completely functional and make extensive use of uniqueness typing, higher-order functions, and algebraic data types. Efficient implementations are present on the Macintosh, Sun (X Windows under Open Look) and PC (OS/2).