Parsec is a library for writing parsers in Haskell. It is based on higher-order parser combinators, so a complicated parser can be made out of many smaller ones. It has been reimplemented in many other languages, including Erlang, Elixir, OCaml, and F#, as well as imperative languages such as C#, and Java.
Because a parser combinator-based program is generally slower than a parser generator-based program, Parsec is normally used for small domain-specific languages, while Happy is used for compilers such as GHC.
Parsers written in Parsec start with simpler parsers, such as ones that recognize certain strings, and combine them to build a parser with more complicated behavior. For example,
digit parses a digit, and
string parses a specific string (like
Parser combinator libraries like Parsec provide utility functions to run the parsers on real values. A parser to recognize a single digit from a string can be split into two functions: one to create the parser, and a
main function that calls one of these utility functions (
parse in this case) to run the parser:
import Text.Parsec -- has general parsing utility functions import Text.Parsec.Char -- contains specific basic combinators type Parser = Stream s m Char => ParsecT s u m String parser :: Parser parser = string "hello" main :: IO () main = print (parse parser "<test>" "hello world") -- prints 'Right "hello"'
We define a
Parser type to make the type signature of
parser easier to read. If we wanted to alter this program, say to read either the string
"hello" or the string
"goodbye", we could use the operator
<|>, provided by the
Alternative typeclass, to combine two parsers into a single parser that tries either:
parser = string "hello" <|> string "goodbye"
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- "megaparsec: Monadic parser combinators". Hackage. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
- "attoparsec: Fast combinator parsing for bytestrings and text". Hackage. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
- "Parsec". 25 October 2021.
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