This is an industrial-strength monadic parser combinator library. Megaparsec
is a feature-rich package that strikes a nice balance between speed,
flexibility, and quality of parse errors.
The project provides flexible solutions to satisfy common parsing needs. The
section describes them shortly. If you're looking for comprehensive
documentation, see the section about documentation.
The package is built around
MonadParsec, an MTL-style monad transformer.
All tools and features work with all instances of
MonadParsec. You can
achieve various effects combining monad transformers, i.e. building a
monadic stack. Since the common monad transformers like
ReaderT and others are instances of the
MonadParsec type class, you can
ParsecT in these monads, achieving, for example, backtracking
On the other hand
ParsecT is an instance of many type classes as well. The
most useful ones are
Megaparsec includes all functionality that is available in Parsec plus
features some combinators that are missing in other parsing libraries:
failure allows to fail reporting a parse error with unexpected and
fancyFailure allows to fail reporting custom error messages.
withRecovery allows to recover from parse errors “on-the-fly” and
continue parsing. Once parsing is finished, several parse errors may be
reported or ignored altogether.
observing allows to “observe” parse errors without ending parsing (they
are returned in
Left, while normal results are wrapped in
In addition to that, Megaparsec features high-performance combinators
similar to those found in Attoparsec:
tokens makes it easy to parse several tokens in a row (
string' are built on top of this primitive). This is about 100 times
faster than matching a string token by token.
tokens returns “chunk” of
original input, meaning that if you parse
Text, it'll return
without any repacking.
takeWhile1 are about 150 times faster than approaches
manyTill and other similar combinators.
takeP allows to grab n tokens from the stream and returns them as a
“chunk” of the stream.
Megaparsec is about as fast as Attoparsec if you write your parser carefully
(see also the section about performance).
Megaparsec can currently work with the following types of input stream
ByteString (strict and lazy)
Text (strict and lazy)
It's also simple to make it work with custom token streams, and Megaparsec
users have done so many times.
Megaparsec has well-typed error messages and the ability to use custom data
types to adjust the library to specific domain of interest. No need to use a
shapeless bunch of strings.
Megaparsec 7 introduced the
ParseErrorBundle data type that helps to
manage multi-error messages and pretty-print them easily and efficiently.
That version of the library also made the practice of displaying offending
line the default.
Megaparsec works well with streams of tokens produced by tools like Alex.
The design of the
Stream type class has been changed significantly in
versions 6 and 7, but user can still work with custom streams of tokens
Character and binary parsing
Megaparsec has decent support for Unicode-aware character parsing. Functions
for character parsing live in the
module. Similarly, there is
module for parsing streams of bytes.
is a module that should help you write your lexer. If you have used
in the past, this module “fixes” its particularly inflexible
Text.Megaparsec.Char.Lexer is intended to be imported using a qualified
import, it's not included in
Text.Megaparsec. The module doesn't impose
how you should write your parser, but certain approaches may be more elegant
than others. An especially important theme is parsing of white space,
comments, and indentation.
The design of the module allows you quickly solve simple tasks and doesn't
get in your way when you want to implement something less standard.
Since Megaparsec 5, all tools for indentation-sensitive parsing are
Text.Megaparsec.Char.Lexer module—no third party packages
Text.Megaparsec.Byte.Lexer is also available for users who wish to parse
Megaparsec is well-documented. See the current version of Megaparsec
documentation on Hackage.
You can find Megaparsec tutorials
should provide sufficient guidance to help you to start with your parsing
tasks. The site also has instructions and tips for Parsec users who decide
to migrate to Megaparsec.
Despite being flexible, Megaparsec is also fast. Here is how Megaparsec
7.0.0 compares to Attoparsec 0.13.2.2 (the fastest widely used parsing
library in the Haskell ecosystem):
The benchmarks were created to guide development of Megaparsec 6 and can be
If you think your Megaparsec parser is not efficient enough, take a look at
Comparison with other solutions
There are quite a few libraries that can be used for parsing in Haskell,
let's compare Megaparsec with some of them.
Megaparsec vs Attoparsec
Attoparsec is another prominent Haskell
library for parsing. Although the both libraries deal with parsing, it's
usually easy to decide which you will need in particular project:
Attoparsec is sometimes faster but not that feature-rich. It should be
used when you want to process large amounts of data where performance
matters more than quality of error messages.
Megaparsec is good for parsing of source code or other human-readable
texts. It has better error messages and it's implemented as monad
So, if you work with something human-readable where size of input data is
usually not huge, just go with Megaparsec, otherwise Attoparsec may be a
Since version 6, Megaparsec features the same fast primitives that
Attoparsec has, so in many cases the difference in speed is not that big.
Megaparsec now aims to be “one size fits all” ultimate solution to parsing,
so it can be used even to parse low-level binary formats.
Megaparsec vs Parsec
Since Megaparsec is a fork of Parsec, we are bound to list the main
differences between the two libraries:
Better error messages. We test our error messages using numerous
QuickCheck (generative) tests. Good error messages are just as important
for us as correct return values of our parsers. Megaparsec will be
especially useful if you write a compiler or an interpreter for some
Megaparsec 6 can show the line on which parse error happened as part of
parse error. This makes it a lot easier to figure out where the error
Some quirks and “buggy features” (as well as plain bugs) of original
Parsec are fixed. There is no undocumented surprising stuff in Megaparsec.
Better support for Unicode parsing in
Megaparsec has more powerful combinators and can parse languages where
indentation matters out-of-the-box.
Comprehensive test suite covering nearly 100% of our code. Compare that to
We have benchmarks to detect performance regressions.
Better documentation, with 100% of functions covered, without typos and
obsolete information, with working examples. Megaparsec's documentation is
well-structured and doesn't contain things useless to end users.
Megaparsec's code is clearer and doesn't contain “magic” found in original
Megaparsec has well-typed error messages and custom error messages.
Megaparsec can recover from parse errors “on the fly” and continue
Megaparsec allows to conditionally process parse errors inside your
parser before parsing is finished. In particular, it's possible to define
regions in which parse errors, should they happen, will get a “context
tag”, e.g. we could build a context stack like “in function definition
foo”, “in expression x”, etc. This is not possible with Parsec.
Megaparsec is faster and supports efficient operations on top of
takeP like Attoparsec.
If you want to see a detailed change log,
CHANGELOG.md may be helpful.
Also see this original announcement for another
Megaparsec vs Trifecta
Trifecta is another Haskell
library featuring good error messages. It's probably good, but also
under-documented, and has unfixed bugs and
flaws. Other reasons one may
question choice of Trifecta is his/her parsing library:
Complicated, doesn't have any tutorials available, and documentation
doesn't help at all.
Trifecta can parse
ByteString natively, but not
Trifecta's error messages may be different with their own features, but
certainly not as flexible as Megaparsec's error messages in the latest
lens. This means you'll pull in half of Hackage as transitive
dependencies. Also if you're not into
lens and would like to keep your
code “vanilla”, you may not like the API.
Idris has recently switched from Trifecta to
Megaparsec which allowed it to have better error messages and fewer
Megaparsec vs Earley
Earley is a newer library that
allows to safely (it your code compiles, then it probably works) parse
context-free grammars (CFG). Megaparsec is a lower-level library compared to
Earley, but there are still enough reasons to choose it over Earley:
Megaparsec is faster.
Your grammar may be not context-free or you may want introduce some sort
of state to the parsing process. Almost all non-trivial parsers require
something of this sort. Even if your grammar is context-free, state may
allow to add some additional niceties. Earley does not support that.
Megaparsec's error messages are more flexible allowing to include
arbitrary data in them, return multiple error messages, mark regions that
affect any error that happens in those regions, etc.
The approach Earley uses differs from the conventional monadic parsing. If
you work not alone, people you work with, especially beginners, will be
much more productive with libraries taking more traditional path to
parsing like Megaparsec.
IOW, Megaparsec is less safe but also more powerful.
The following packages are designed to be used with Megaparsec (open a PR if
you want to add something to the list):
Prominent projects that use Megaparsec
The following are some prominent projects that use Megaparsec:
- Idris—a general-purpose
functional programming language with dependent types
- Hledger—an accounting tool
- MMark—strict markdown processor for
- Stache—Mustache templates for
- Language Puppet—library
for manipulating Puppet manifests
Links to announcements and blog posts
Here are some blog posts mainly announcing new features of the project and
describing what sort of things are now possible:
The project was started and is currently maintained by Mark Karpov. You can
find the complete list of contributors in the
AUTHORS.md file in the
official repository of the project. Thanks to all the people who propose
features and ideas, although they are not in
AUTHORS.md, without them
Megaparsec would not be that good.
Issues (bugs, feature requests or otherwise feedback) may be reported in
the GitHub issue tracker for this project.
Pull requests are also welcome (and yes, they will get attention and will be
merged quickly if they are good).
Copyright © 2015–2018 Megaparsec contributors
Copyright © 2007 Paolo Martini
Copyright © 1999–2000 Daan Leijen
Distributed under FreeBSD license.