Haskell is turning out to be a great match for OpenGL. Since we can offload a lot of the rendering to shader code, we can use mostly pure Haskell functions to update the game or simulation in response to user input. Over a few blog posts, I’m going to outline how I’ve been using OpenGL in Haskell.

First, to use OpenGL we need a way to open a window, get a context, and respond to user input. There are several different cross-platform libraries to do this, but for simple projects I prefer GLFW. The Haskell package GLFW-b has bindings for GLFW and exposes a more Haskellish API than the regular GLFW package.

This is some boilerplate code for setting up GLFW-b and running a main loop. It will open a window and draw a rotating square. There are inline comments explaining what is going on, but here is a summary of the main points.

  • GLFW-b lets us run our own main loop instead of requiring us to use callbacks like GLUT. However, there are still callbacks available for some things. The only one we’ll use is the window resize callback. We’ll use this to set the projection matrix and viewport when the window changes size.
  • The rough procedure for using GLFW-b is
    1. Call initialize
    2. Call openWindow with our window options. Start with defaultDisplayOptions and set what we care about. Remember to set num*Bits if you want color.
    3. Set the window size callback with setWindowSizeCallback
    4. Run our loop, calling swapBuffers after every frame
    5. Call closeWindow
    6. Call terminate
  • We can use finally to make sure that GLFW-b is terminated properly no matter how our main loop exits.
  • Calling swapBuffers polls for input, so inside our main loop we can use the GLFW-b input functions like keyIsPressed. We’ll also check windowIsOpen to exit the main loop when the window closes.

span class="co1">-- initialize has to come first. If it doesn't return True,
  -- this crashes with a pattern match error.
-- Set the RGB bits to get a color window.
  -- See the GLFW-b docs for all the options
-- Use `$=` for assigning to GL values, `get` to read them.
  -- These functions basically hide IORefs.
  GL.depthFunc $= Just GL.Less

  -- Use `finally` so that `quit` is called whether or
  -- not `mainLoop` throws an exception
-- | Resize the viewport and set the projection matrix
-- These are all analogous to the standard OpenGL functions
-- | Close the window and terminate GLFW
-- | This will print and clear the OpenGL errors
-- | Draw the window and handle input
-- Input is polled each time swapBuffers is called
-- Sleep for the rest of the frame
-- maximum frame rate
-- | Draw a frame
-- Again, the functions in GL almost all map to standard OpenGL functions
-- renderPrimitive wraps the supplied action with glBegin and glEnd.
  -- We'll stop using this when we switch to shaders and vertex buffers.
  GL.renderPrimitive GL.Quads $
    -- Draw a unit square centered on the origin
-- Note that we have to explicitly type Vertex* and Vector*, because
        -- they are polymorphic in number field.
-- GL.rotate takes the angle in degrees, not radians