pipes-parse-3.0.8: Parsing infrastructure for the pipes ecosystem

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pipes-parse builds upon pipes to add several missing features necessary to implement Parsers:

  • End-of-input detection, so that Parsers can react to an exhausted input stream
  • Leftovers support, which simplifies several parsing problems
  • Connect-and-resume, to connect a Producer to a Parser and retrieve unused input



pipes-parse centers on three abstractions:

There are four ways to connect these three abstractions:

runStateT  :: Parser a m r -> Producer a m x -> m (r, Producer a m x)
evalStateT :: Parser a m r -> Producer a m x -> m  r
execStateT :: Parser a m r -> Producer a m x -> m (   Producer a m x)
zoom :: Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer b m y)
     -> Parser b m r
     -> Parser a m r
(^.) :: Producer a m x
     -> Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer b m y)
     -> Producer b m y
  • Connect Lens'es to Lens'es using (.) (i.e. function composition):
(.) :: Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer b m y)
    -> Lens' (Producer b m y) (Producer c m z)
    -> Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer c m z)

You can obtain the necessary lens utilities from either:

  • The lens-family-core library, importing Lens.Family (for (^.) / view and over) and Lens.Family.State.Strict (for zoom), or:
  • The lens library, importing Control.Lens (for (^.) / view, over and zoom)

This tutorial uses Lens.Family since it has fewer dependencies and simpler types.


Parsers handle end-of-input and pushback by storing a Producer in a StateT layer:

type Parser a m r = forall x . StateT (Producer a m x) m r

To draw a single element from the underlying Producer, use the draw command:

draw :: Monad m => Parser a m (Maybe a)

draw returns the next element from the Producer wrapped in Just or returns Nothing if the underlying Producer is empty. Here's an example Parser written using draw that retrieves the first two elements from a stream:

import Pipes.Parse

drawTwo :: Monad m => Parser a m (Maybe a, Maybe a)
drawTwo = do
    mx <- draw
    my <- draw
    return (mx, my)

-- or: drawTwo = liftM2 (,) draw draw

Since a Parser is just a StateT action, you run a Parser using the same run functions as StateT:

-- Feed a 'Producer' to a 'Parser', returning the result and leftovers
runStateT  :: Parser a m r -> Producer a m x -> m (r, Producer a m x)

-- Feed a 'Producer' to a 'Parser', returning only the result
evalStateT :: Parser a m r -> Producer a m x -> m  r

-- Feed a 'Producer' to a 'Parser', returning only the leftovers
execStateT :: Parser a m r -> Producer a m x -> m (   Producer a m x)

All three of these functions require a Producer which we feed to the Parser. For example, we can feed standard input:

>>> evalStateT drawTwo Pipes.Prelude.stdinLn
(Just "Pink",Just "Elephants")

The result is wrapped in a Maybe because draw can fail if the Producer is empty:

>>> evalStateT drawTwo (yield 0)
(Just 0,Nothing)

Parsing might not necessarily consume the entire stream. We can use runStateT or execStateT to retrieve unused elements that our parser does not consume:

>>> import Pipes
>>> (result, unused) <- runStateT drawTwo (each [1..4])
>>> -- View the parsed result
>>> result
(Just 1,Just 2)
>>> -- Now print the leftovers
>>> runEffect $ for unused (lift . print)


pipes-parse also provides a convenience function for testing purposes that draws all remaining elements and returns them as a list:

drawAll :: Monad m => Parser a m [a]

For example:

>>> import Pipes
>>> import Pipes.Parse
>>> evalStateT drawAll (each [1..10])

However, this function is not recommended in general because it loads the entire input into memory, which defeats the purpose of streaming parsing.

You can instead use foldAll if you wish to fold all input elements into a single result:

>>> evalStateT (foldAll (+) 0 id) (each [1..10])

You can also use the foldl package to simplify writing more complex folds:

>>> import Control.Applicative
>>> import Control.Foldl as L
>>> evalStateT (purely foldAll (liftA2 (,) L.sum L.maximum)) (each [1..10])
(55,Just 10)

But what if you wanted to draw or fold just the first three elements from an infinite stream instead of the entire input? This is what lenses are for:

import Lens.Family
import Lens.Family.State.Strict
import Pipes
import Pipes.Parse

import Prelude hiding (splitAt, span)

drawThree :: Monad m => Parser a m [a]
drawThree = zoom (splitAt 3) drawAll

zoom lets you delimit a Parser using a Lens'. The above code says to limit drawAll to a subset of the input, in this case the first three elements:

>>> evalStateT drawThree (each [1..])

splitAt is a Lens' with the following type:

    :: Monad m
    => Int -> Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer a m (Producer a m x))

The easiest way to understand splitAt is to study what happens when you use it as a getter:

view (splitAt 3) :: Producer a m x -> Producer a m (Producer a m x) 

In this context, (splitAt 3) behaves like splitAt from the Prelude, except instead of splitting a list it splits a Producer. Here's an example of how you can use splitAt:

outer :: Monad m => Producer Int m (Producer Int m ())
outer = each [1..6] ^. splitAt 3

The above definition of outer is exactly equivalent to:

outer = do
    each [1..3]
    return (each [4..6])

We can prove this by successively running the outer and inner Producer layers:

>>> -- Print all the elements in the outer layer and return the inner layer
>>> inner <- runEffect $ for outer (lift . print)
>>> -- Now print the elements in the inner layer
>>> runEffect $ for inner (lift . print)

We can also uses lenses to modify Parsers, using zoom. When we combine zoom with (splitAt 3) we limit a parser to the the first three elements of the stream. When the parser is done zoom also returns unused elements back to the original stream. We can demonstrate this using the following example parser:

splitExample :: Monad m => Parser a m ([a], Maybe a, [a])
splitExample = do
    x <- zoom (splitAt 3) drawAll
    y <- zoom (splitAt 3) draw
    z <- zoom (splitAt 3) drawAll
    return (x, y, z)

The second parser begins where the first parser left off:

>>> evalStateT splitExample (each [1..])
([1,2,3],Just 4,[5,6,7])

span behaves the same way, except that it uses a predicate and takes as many consecutive elements as possible that satisfy the predicate:

spanExample :: Monad m => Parser Int m (Maybe Int, [Int], Maybe Int)
spanExample = do
    x <- zoom (span (>= 4)) draw
    y <- zoom (span (<  4)) drawAll
    z <- zoom (span (>= 4)) draw
    return (x, y, z)

Note that even if the first parser fails, subsequent parsers can still succeed because they operate under a different lens:

>>> evalStateT spanExample (each [1..])
(Nothing,[1,2,3],Just 4)

You can even nest zooms, too:

nestExample :: Monad m => Parser Int m (Maybe Int, [Int], Maybe Int)
nestExample = zoom (splitAt 2) spanExample

All the parsers from spanExample now only see a subset of the input, namely the first two elements:

>>> evalStateT nestExample (each [1..])


Not all transformations are reversible. For example, consider the following contrived function:

import Pipes
import qualified Pipes.Prelude as P

map' :: Monad m => (a -> b) -> Producer a m r -> Producer b m r
map' f p = p >-> P.map f

Given a function of type (a -> b), we can transform a stream of a's into a stream of b's, but not the other way around. Transformations which are not reversible and cannot be modeled as Pipes can only be modeled as functions between Producers. However, Pipes are preferable to functions between Producers when possible because Pipes can transform both Producers and Consumers.

If you prefer, you can use lens-like syntax for functions between Producers by promoting them to Getters using to:

import Lens.Family

example :: Monad m => Producer Int m ()
example = each [1..3] ^. to (map' (*2))

However, a function of Producers (or the equivalent Getter) cannot be used transform Parsers (using zoom or otherwise) . This reflects the fact that such a transformation cannot be applied in reversed.

Building Lenses

Lenses are very easy to write if you are willing to depend on either the lens-family or lens library. Both of these libraries provide an iso function that you can use to assemble your own lenses. You only need two functions which reversibly transform back and forth between a stream of as and a stream of bs:

-- "Forward"
fw :: Producer a m x -> Producer b m y

-- "Backward"
bw :: Producer b m y -> Producer a m x

... such that:

fw . bw = id

bw . fw = id

You can then convert them to a Lens' using iso:

import Lens.Family2 (Lens')
import Lens.Family2.Unchecked (iso)

lens :: Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer b m y)
lens = iso fw bw

You can even do this without incurring any dependencies if you rewrite the above code like this:

-- This type synonym requires the 'RankNTypes' extension
type Lens' a b = forall f . Functor f => (b -> f b) -> (a -> f a)

lens :: Lens' (Producer a m x) (Producer b m y)
lens k p = fmap bw (k (fw p))

This is what pipes-parse does internally, and you will find several examples of this pattern in the source code of the Pipes.Parse module.

Lenses defined using either approach will work with both the lens and lens-family libraries.

You can even use Parsers to build a function between Producers. For example, a very common idiom is to define a function of type:

example :: Monad m => Producer a m r -> Producer b m (Producer a m r)

... which parses as many 'b's as possible from the input stream of 'a's, returning the remainder of the stream if parsing fails.

You can define that in terms of a parser of type:

parser :: Monad m => StateT (Producer a m x) (Producer b m) r

example = execStateT parser

However, writing a parser of that type requires a few changes for everything to type-check. For example, the draw function does not have the correct type for the above parser:

draw :: StateT (Producer a m x) m (Maybe a)

... but (hoist lift draw) does have the correct type, where hoist comes from the mmorph library and is re-exported by pipes:

hoist lift draw :: StateT (Producer a m x) (Producer b m) (Maybe a)

Similarly, yield does not have the right type when you want to emit an element of type 'b':

yield :: Monad m => b -> Producer b m ()

... but (lift . yield) does have the right type:

lift . yield :: Monad m => b -> StateT (Producer a m x) (Producer b m) ()


pipes-parse introduces core idioms for pipes-based parsing. These idioms reuse Producers, but introduce two new abstractions: Lens'es and Parsers.

This library is very minimal and only contains datatype-agnostic parsing utilities, so this tutorial does not explore the full range of parsing tricks using lenses. For example, you can also use lenses to change the element type.

Several downstream libraries provide more specific functionality, including:

  • pipes-binary: Lenses and parsers for binary values
  • pipes-attoparsec: Converts attoparsec parsers to pipes parsers
  • pipes-aeson: Lenses and parsers for JSON values
  • pipes-bytestring: Lenses and parsers for byte streams
  • pipes-text: Lenses and parsers for text encodings

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