Monday, November 4, 2013

haskintex: Haskell within LaTeX

I am here today to announce my new package: haskintex. Actually, the package has been around in Hackage for some time now, but I didn't want to announce it. Although everything was ready for this release some days (weeks?) ago, I have been waiting for the Hackage server to update its Cabal version (see #85@hackage-server) to the 1.18 branch. This is because haskintex depends on HaTeX >= 3.9, and the new version was failing to upload to Hackage due to an undefined cabal field (extra-doc-files) warning. This field was defined for the 1.18 version of Cabal and quickly used by HaTeX. HaTeX still builds with previous versions of Cabal, the only difference is that images in the documentation do not appear.

What is haskintex

haskintex is a tool that processes files, usually files that follow the LaTeX syntax. Although it has been programmed with LaTeX in mind, it was later clear that it can be used with other formats as well (with some restrictions). The purpose of haskintex is to include Haskell code within LaTeX files, and evaluate it or display it as desired. Therefore, it is similar in purpose to lhs2tex, but with a different approach. The input file is usually a .htex file, which is a LaTeX file plus some commands and environments like \evalhaskell{2+3}. haskintex would process these declarations running GHC on their argument and substituting the result in the output file. Something like \verb`5`. You can add things to the scope within a \begin{writehaskell}...\end{writehaskell} environment.

Calling HaTeX functions

However, the most interesting way to use Haskell within LaTeX is in combination with HaTeX. HaTeX is library that implements the LaTeX syntax in Haskell. Inside the \hatex{...} command, you can put any Haskell expressions of type LaTeX. When processed by haskintex, it will be type checked, evaluated and rendered as LaTeX code. This brings all the benefits from HaTeX without the need to write all the boilerplate HaTeX code for things that plain LaTeX would do just fine. For example, suppose you want to draw a logarithmic spiral. The code below will do the job for you.

\author{Daniel Díaz}
\title{Embedding HaTeX in \emph{haskintex}}
Below is the \emph{Spira Mirabilis} inserted using the HaTeX
import Text.LaTeX
import Text.LaTeX.Packages.TikZ.Simple

spiral :: Figure
spiral = LineWidth (Pt 2) $
    pathImage 0.01 (0,4) $
      \t -> ( a * exp t * cos (b*t)
            , a * exp t * sin (b*t)
    a = 0.1 ; b = 4
\hatex{center $ tikzpicture $ figuretikz spiral}

See the documentation of the TikZ.Simple module of HaTeX to understand the functions used above. You may want to use different HaTeX modules for other tasks.

More info about haskintex and its usage at the homepage of the project.

Thanks for reading,
Daniel Díaz.