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Greg Phillips is the CTO of Houwzer where he's reimagining and reinventing real estate brokerage using a data and technology-driven approach.

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Setting up a blog using Hakyll and GitHub

October 26, 2011

I first discovered Haskell in 2008, and I remember even then being quite impressed by the quality of the community, which has since grown substantially. There was enough buzz around it that I decided to jump in and try to learn some Haskell.

My first foray into Haskell (and functional programming in general) was hacking up some solutions to Project Euler problems in Haskell, and after solving just a few of them I noticed that the core Haskell paradigms (laziness, purity) really shifted my thinking about the practice of programming in general.

Since that initial discovery phase, I haven’t actually used Haskell much. I’ve learned quite a bit more about functional programming since then, but largely this has been through more thorough experimentation with Clojure over the last year or two.

I was recently reading a blog post by Chris Done that made the front page of Hacker News and caught my eye. The post discussed “value polymorphism” which reminded me how little that I actually know about Haskell, having just scratched the surface in my earlier exploration.

I also noticed that he was using Hakyll as his blogging engine, and I figured that since I was planning to start this blog, and I was feeling like I wanted to get back into some Haskell coding, that I could kill two birds with one stone.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I downloaded and installed the Haskell Platform for Mac OS X. I remember when trying to get Haskell set up in the past I always had a little bit of a hard time figuring it all out, but the Haskell Platform package has really improved that experience.

Next, I just ran:

 cabal install hakyll

I was hoping this would just work out of the box but unfortunately, this failed with a compiler error when it tried to build the library regex-pcre-0.94.2:

 Wrap.hsc:143:18: error: pcre.h: No such file or directory

I figured that I must be missing some regex library that didn’t come with the Haskell package, so after a little research I tried installing the “pcre” Homebrew package:

 brew install pcre

Sure enough, that did the trick and a second crack at: “cabal install hakyll” finished without any further issues. I later found that this issue is covered in the Hakyll FAQ here.

The next step was to work through the tutorial on the hakyll site in order to understand some of the general concepts. I ran into another obstacle during this step, trying to compile of some of the example code. Fortunately, this was also documented in the Hakyll FAQ so I was able to quickly resolve it.

Once I had the lay of the land, I copied the tagblog/ folder out of the hakyll-examples project and into my own git project. From there, I edited the files in the css/ and templates/ directory to my liking. For the duration of this step, I kept the sample blog posts around so I could see how they looked as I changed the templates and styles.

As soon as the site was looking good, I removed the extraneous files from the Hakyll sample blog and build the site using the Hakyll compiler. Since everything is statically compiled into the _site/ directory, you can just turn this into it’s own git repo (you’ll have to add “/_site" to your .gitignore if you want to put the rest of the project into git as well since that will be it’s own repo) and push it to a repository named “” and github pages will do the rest!

You can check out my github page for the source.

Tagged as: haskell, hakyll, github.

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