Using Haskell in Rust

Published October 15th, 2016

After my article on putting Rust in Haskell I set out on getting Haskell into Rust as part of my test suite for curryrs which is supposed to make this much easier. I was having some trouble getting this to work because Haskell FFI only supports exporting for C. I tried to get this to work directly with Rust but it didn't work at all. The main issue being that we need to initialize and end the Haskell runtime when we use our Haskell functions and closing it when we're done. Linking libraries also ended up being a problem to overcome to get it done right. It is possible though! We're going to setup a program from scratch and we're going to use curryrs to make the types easier between the two.


This articles assumes you have the following installed:

Setting up the project

First we need to get our Rust code all set up! Initialize a new binary project like so:

cargo new rushs --bin

Inside the new rushs directory we need to create a new Haskell project. We'll call it hs2rs and you can initialize it like so:

stack new hs2rs simple-library

Alright let's get all of our Haskell code done first before we put it into our Rust code.


If you look inside src/Lib.hs in the hs2rs project directory you'll see that it looks like this:

module Lib
    ( someFunc
    ) where

someFunc :: IO ()
someFunc = putStrLn "someFunc"

We're going to change it so that it looks like this instead:

module Lib where

import Types

triple :: I32 -> I32
triple x = 3 * x

foreign export ccall triple :: I32 -> I32

We're importing the types from curryrs which contain aliases for all of the types making it easier to write code between both languages. In this case we're using the I32 type which is i32 in Rust and Int32 in Haskell. We've also defined a function triple that takes a value and multiplies it by 3. We've then exported it with the C calling convention for use in other languages.

Next up we need to import the Haskell FFI headers as part of the library so we can properly initialize and end the Haskell runtime in our C glue code.

Open up a file in src called wrapper.c and put this in it:

#include <HsFFI.h>

That's all we need here. Don't compile anything yet since none of this is truly ready for FFI. We'll need to modify our cabal file next. Open up hs2rs.cabal

It will look something like this:

name:                hs2rs
synopsis:            Initial project template from stack
description:         Please see
license:             BSD3
license-file:        LICENSE
author:              Author name here
copyright:           2016 Author name here
category:            Web
build-type:          Simple
-- extra-source-files:
cabal-version:       >=1.10

  hs-source-dirs:      src
  exposed-modules:     Lib
  build-depends:       base >= 4.7 && < 5
  default-language:    Haskell2010

source-repository head
  type:     git

We're going to add some options, import some dependencies, and make sure our c wrapper code is included. Your cabal file will look something like this when you modify it:

name:                hs2rs
synopsis:            Use Haskell in Rust!
description:         Please see
license:             BSD3
license-file:        LICENSE
author:              Michael Gattozzi
copyright:           2016 Michael Gattozzi
category:            FFI
build-type:          Simple
-- extra-source-files:
cabal-version:       >=1.10

  hs-source-dirs:      src
  exposed-modules:     Lib
  other-extensions:    ForeignFunctionInterface
  ghc-options:         -dynamic -fPIC -shared -lHSrts-ghc8.0.1 -o
  build-depends:       base >= 4.7 && < 5
                     , curryrs
  c-sources:           src/wrapper.c
  default-language:    Haskell2010

source-repository head
  type:     git

The important things to note here are that we need to set other-extensions to have the ForeignFunctionInterface used for GHC. Also look at the flags used:

Okay one last thing for the code to work. Open up stack.yaml and change the line extra-deps to the following:

extra-deps: [ "curryrs-" ]

This is so we can import the curryrs library since it's only on Hackage and not in the current stack LTS.

Now you can compile your code:

stack build

You should see a file show up! We now need to write some C code to act as our intermediary for Rust and Haskell. Open up a file in this directory called inter.c and place the following in it:

#include <HsFFI.h>

void init(void) {
  static char *argv[] = { "", 0 }, **argv_ = argv;
  static int argc = 1;

  hs_init(&argc, &argv_);

void fin(void) {

Now run the following:

gcc -shared -o inter.c -fPIC

This creates a shared library that we can use that's linked with using Position Independent Code. We compile it using gcc as a C compiler so that it can locate all the haskell runtime libraries. inter.c is just used as a wrapper around hs_init and hs_exit to make it easier to start and stop the Haskell runtime in Rust. Alright now let's write some Rust!


First up open up Cargo.toml and change it to have a build file and to add curryrs as a dependency:

name = "rushs"
version = "0.1.0"
authors = ["Michael Gattozzi <>"]
build = ""

curryrs = "^0.1.0"

Next up open up in the top level of the library and put the following in:

fn main() {

This tells cargo that Rust needs to look inside hs2rs for our and files! When we import them now we don't need to specify which files need to be linked specifically in the file. Alright we're finally ready to get our main file all setup. Open up src/ and change it to look like this:

extern crate curryrs;
use curryrs::types::I32;

extern {
    pub fn init();
    pub fn fin();
    pub fn triple(x: I32) -> I32;

fn main() {
    unsafe { init(); }
    println!("Tripled value: {}", unsafe{triple(50)});
    unsafe { fin(); }

We're first importing the I32 type from curryrs. We then import our functions we created earlier. This includes our initialization and exiting functions for the Haskell run time. These are absolutely necessary or the code won't work. Failure to close the runtime would be undefined behavior and could hog up resources. Make sure to close it up when you're done!

Now in our main function we initialize the runtime. We make our call to triple to make the number 150 then we end the runtime. Alright let's run the code!

cargo run

You should see "Tripled value: 150" printed out! Congrats you've now successfully run Haskell inside of Rust!


This is great but what about someone working on building the project? What about tests? If you try to run the code without having compiled anything else the whole thing fails. Let's set up a quick easy Makefile to avoid this problem:

build: hs cargo

	@(cd hs2rs && stack build && gcc -shared -o inter.c -fPIC)

	@cargo build

run: hs
	@cargo run

test: build
	@cargo test

	@cargo doc
	@(cd hs2rs && stack haddock)

	@cargo clean
	@(cd hs2rs && stack clean && rm *.so)

This is a pretty simple file and could easily be expanded to be more robust. Now you won't need to worry about it not working and can just get it running with make run! No more worrying about getting all the flags done right now.

Limitations of this example

This is only the most basic of examples. I'm still unsure of the best practices of getting data structures passed between the two. If you have examples of passing them between Rust and Haskell let me know! It would be great if curryrs could support passing more complex data rather than just basic primitives.


I've walked you through the basics of using Haskell in Rust. This includes the setup of your project, a little on how to use curryrs, how to setup the C files you'll need to interface with Rust and how to export functions for use in other languages. I've also shown you how to setup your Rust project, what you would need to include in a build script, as well as how to call Haskell properly from inside Rust. I also covered a basic Makefile you can use to make it easier to build the dependencies for your Rust code.

I'm hoping that examples like this will allow Rust users in the future to leverage the power Haskell has, such as infinite lists, in their code or vice versa and allowing Haskell to have a type safe fast language when speed truly is critical.

If you're interested on bridging that gap as well let me know!

Thanks to Caleb Jones for making some corrections to this article.