ghcid: GHCi based bare bones IDE

[ bsd3, development, library, program ] [ Propose Tags ]

Either "GHCi as a daemon" or "GHC + a bit of an IDE". A very simple Haskell development tool which shows you the errors in your project and updates them whenever you save. Run ghcid --topmost --command=ghci, where --topmost makes the window on top of all others (Windows only) and --command is the command to start GHCi on your project (defaults to ghci if you have a .ghci file, or else to cabal repl).

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Versions [RSS] 0.1, 0.1.1, 0.1.3, 0.2, 0.3, 0.3.1, 0.3.2, 0.3.3, 0.3.4, 0.3.5, 0.3.6, 0.4, 0.4.1, 0.4.2, 0.5, 0.5.1, 0.6, 0.6.1, 0.6.2, 0.6.3, 0.6.4, 0.6.5, 0.6.6, 0.6.7, 0.6.8, 0.6.9, 0.6.10, 0.7, 0.7.1, 0.7.2, 0.7.3, 0.7.4, 0.7.5, 0.7.6, 0.7.7, 0.8, 0.8.1, 0.8.2, 0.8.3, 0.8.4, 0.8.5, 0.8.6, 0.8.7, 0.8.8, 0.8.9
Change log CHANGES.txt
Dependencies ansi-terminal, base (>=4.7 && <5), cmdargs (>=0.10), containers, directory (>=1.2), extra (>=1.6.20), filepath, fsnotify (>=0.4), process (>=1.1), terminal-size (>=0.3), time (>=1.5), unix, Win32 (>= [details]
License BSD-3-Clause
Copyright Neil Mitchell 2014-2023
Author Neil Mitchell <>, jpmoresmau
Maintainer Neil Mitchell <>
Category Development
Home page
Bug tracker
Source repo head: git clone
Uploaded by NeilMitchell at 2023-07-02T20:45:51Z
Distributions Fedora:0.8.9, LTSHaskell:0.8.9, NixOS:0.8.9, Stackage:0.8.9
Reverse Dependencies 7 direct, 8 indirect [details]
Executables ghcid
Downloads 38804 total (133 in the last 30 days)
Rating 2.5 (votes: 5) [estimated by Bayesian average]
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Status Docs available [build log]
Last success reported on 2023-07-02 [all 1 reports]

Readme for ghcid-0.8.9

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ghcid Hackage version Stackage version Build status

Either "GHCi as a daemon" or "GHC + a bit of an IDE". To a first approximation, it opens ghci and runs :reload whenever your source code changes, formatting the output to fit a fixed height console. Unlike other Haskell development tools, ghcid is intended to be incredibly simple. In particular, it doesn't integrate with any editors, doesn't provide access to the ghci it starts, doesn't depend on GHC the library and doesn't start web servers.

Acknowledgements: This project incorporates significant work from JPMoresmau, who is listed as a co-author.

Using it

Run stack install ghcid or cabal update && cabal install ghcid to install it as normal. Then run ghcid "--command=ghci Main.hs". The command is how you start your project in ghci. If you omit --command then it will default to stack ghci if you have the stack.yaml file and .stack-work directory, default to ghci if you have a .ghci file in the current directory, and otherwise default to cabal repl.

Personally, I always create a .ghci file at the root of all my projects, which usually reads something like:

:set -fwarn-unused-binds -fwarn-unused-imports
:set -isrc
:load Main

After that, resize your console and make it so you can see it while working in your editor. On Windows you may wish to pass --topmost so the console will sit on top of all other windows. On Linux, you probably want to use your window manager to make it topmost or use a tiling window manager.

What you get

On every save you'll see a list of the errors and warnings in your project. It uses ghci under the hood, so even relatively large projects should update their status pretty quickly. As an example:

    Not in scope: `verbosit'
    Perhaps you meant `verbosity' (imported from System.Console.CmdArgs)
Util.hs:18:1: Warning: Defined but not used: `foo'

Or, if everything is good, you see:

All good

Please report any bugs you find.

Editor integration

There are a few plugins that integrate Ghcid into editors, notably:

Usage tips

In general, to use ghcid, you first need to get ghci working well for you. In particular, craft a command line or .ghci file such that when you start ghci it has loaded all the files you care about (check :show modules). If you want to use --test check that whatever expression you want to use works in that ghci session. Getting ghci started properly is one of the hardest things of using ghcid, and while ghcid has a lot of defaults for common cases, it doesn't always work out of the box.


Using the ghci session that ghcid manages you can also evaluate expressions:

  • You can pass any ghci expression with the --test flag, e.g. --test=:main, which will be run whenever the code is warning free (or pass --warnings for when the code is merely error free).

  • If you pass the --allow-eval flag then comments in the source files such as -- $> expr will run expr after loading - see this blog post for more details. Multiline comments are also supported with the following syntax:

    {- $>
    <$ -}

Expressions that read from standard input are likely to hang, given that Ghcid already uses the standard input to interact with Ghci.


This isn't as good as full IDE

I've gone for simplicity over features. It's a point in the design space, but not necessarily the best point in the design space for you. Other points in the design space include:

If I delete a file and put it back it gets stuck.

Yes, that's a bug in GHCi. If you see GHCi getting confused just kill ghcid and start it again.

I want to run arbitrary commands when arbitrary files change.

This project reloads ghci when files loaded by ghci change. If you want a more general mechanism, consider:

I want syntax highlighting in the error messages.

One option is to use Neovim or Emacs and run the terminal in a buffer whose file type is set to Haskell. Another option is to pipe ghcid through source-highlight (ghcid | source-highlight -s haskell -f esc).

I'm not seeing pattern matching warnings.

Ghcid automatically appends -fno-code to the command line, which makes the reload cycle about twice as fast. Unfortunately GHC 8.0 and 8.2 suffer from bug 10600 which means -fno-code also disables pattern matching warnings. On these versions, either accept no pattern match warnings or use -c to specify a command line to start ghci that doesn't include -fno-code. From GHC 8.4 this problem no longer exists.

I get "During interactive linking, GHCi couldn't find the following symbol"

This problem is a manifestation of GHC bug 8025, which is fixed in GHC 8.4 and above. Ghcid automatically appends -fno-code to the command line, but for older GHC's you can supress that with --test "return ()" (to add a fake test) or -c "ghci ..." to manually specify the command to run.

I only see source-spans or colors on errors/warnings after the first load.

Due to limitations in ghci, these flags are only set after the first load. If you want them to apply from the start, pass them on the command line to ghci with something like -c "ghci -ferror-spans -fdiagnostics-color=always".

I want to match on the file/line/column to get jump-to-error functionality in my editor.

You will variously see file:line:col:message, file:line:col1-col2:msg and file:(line1,col1)-(line2,col2):message, as these are the formats GHC uses. To match all of them you can use a regular expression such as ^(\\S*?):(?|(\\d+):(\\d+)(?:-\\d+)?|\\((\\d+),(\\d+)\\)-\\(\\d+,\\d+\\)):([^\n]*).

What if the error message is too big for my console?

You can let ghcid print more with --no-height-limit. The first error message might end up outside of the console view, so you can use --reverse-errors to flip the order of the errors and warnings. Further error messages are just a scroll away. Finally if you're going to be scrolling, you can achieve a cleaner experience with the --clear flag, which clears the console on reload.

I use Alex (.x) and Happy (.y) files, how can I check them?

Ghcid only notices when the .hs files change. To make it respond to other files you can pass the .x and .y files to --restart, e.g. --restart=myparser.y. As long as you set the initial command to something that runs Happy/Alex (e.g. cabal repl) then when those files change everything will restart, causing the initial command to be rerun.

How do I run pass command arguments with --test?

ghcid ... --test Main.main --setup ":set args myargs"

Why do I get "addWatch: resource exhausted (No space left on device)" or "openFile: resource exhausted (Too many open files)" on my Mac?

The Mac has a fairly low limit on the number of file handles available. You can increase it with: sudo sysctl -w fs.inotify.max_user_watches=262144; sudo sysctl -p