# What's new in Cabal/cabal-install 2.0 — improved new-build, Backpack, foreign libraries and more!

A couple of weeks ago we’ve quietly released versions 2.0 of both Cabal and cabal-install after approximately a year of development. The 2.0 release incorporates more than 1500 commits by 64 different contributors. This post serves as a formal release announcement and describes what’s new and improved in version 2.0.

There is a number of backwards-incompatible Cabal library API changes in this release that affect packages with Custom setup scripts. Therefore cabal-install will by default use a previous version of Cabal to build setup scripts that don’t explicitly declare compatibility with Cabal 2.0. The 2.0 migration guide gives advice for package authors on how to adapt Custom setup scripts to backwards-incompatible changes in this release.

## Major new features

• Much improved new-build feature (also known as nix-style local builds), that solves many long-standing problems and is going to become the default mode of operation of cabal-install in version 3.0 (tentative release date: Autumn 2018). Killer features of new-build are reproducible isolated builds with global dependency caching and multi-package projects. For a more extensive introduction to new-build, see this blog post by Edward Z. Yang.

• Support for Backpack, a new system for mix-in packages. See this article by Edward Z. Yang for an introduction to Backpack and its features.

• Native suport for foreign libraries: Haskell libraries that are intended to be used by non-Haskell code. See this section of the user guide for an introduction to this feature.

• Convenience/internal libraries are now supported (#269). An internal library is declared using the stanza library 'libname' and can be only used by other components inside a package.

• Package components can be now built and installed in parallel. This is especially handy when compiling packages with large numbers of independent components (usually those are executables). As a consequence, the Setup.hs command-line interface now allows to specify the component to be configured.

• New cabal-install command: outdated, for listing outdated version bounds in a .cabal file or a freeze file (#4201). Work on this feature was sponsored by Scrive AB.

• New cabal-install command reconfigure, which re-runs configure with the most recently used flags (#2214).

• Package repos are now assumed to be hackage-security-enabled by default. If a remote-repo section in ~/.cabal/config doesn’t have an explicit secure field, it now defaults to secure: True, unlike in cabal-install 1.24. See this post on the Well-Typed blog for an introduction to hackage-security and what benefits it brings.

• New caret-style version range operator ^>= (#3705) that is equivalent to >= intersected with an automatically inferred major upper bound. For example, foo ^>= 1.3.1 is equivalent to foo >= 1.3.1 && < 1.4. Besides being a convenient syntax sugar, ^>= allows to distinguish “strong” and “weak” upper bounds: foo >= 1.3.1 && < 1.4 means “I know for sure that my package doesn’t work with foo-1.4”, while foo ^>= 1.3.1 means “I don’t know whether foo-1.4, which is not out yet, will break my package, but I want to be cautious and follow PVP”. In the future, this feature will allow to implement automatic version bounds relaxation in a formally sound way (work on this front is progressing on matrix.hackage.haskell.org). See this section of the manual for more information.

• Changed cabal upload to upload a package candidate by default (#3419). Same applies to uploading documentation. Also added a new cabal upload flag --publish for publishing a package on Hackage instead of uploading a candidate (#3419).

• Support for --allow-older (dual to --allow-newer) (#3466).

• New build-tool-depends field that replaces build-tools and has a better defined semantics (#3708, #1541). cabal-install will now install required build tools and add them to PATH automatically.

• New autogen-modules field for automatically generated modules (like Paths_PACKAGENAME) that are not distributed inside the package tarball (#3656).

• Added a new scope field to the executable stanza (#3461). Executable scope can be either public or private; private executables are those that are expected to be run by other programs rather than users and get installed into $libexecdir/$libexecsubdir. Additionally, $libexecdir now has a subdir structure similar to $lib(sub)dir to allow installing private executables of different packages and package versions alongside one another.

• New --index-state flag for requesting a specific version of the package index (#3893, #4115).

• Added CURRENT_PACKAGE_VERSION CPP constant to cabal_macros.h (#4319).

## Minor improvements and bug fixes

• Dropped support for versions of GHC earlier than 6.12 (#3111). Also, GHC compatibility window for the Cabal library has been extended to five years (#3838).

• Added a technical preview version of the ‘cabal doctest’ command (#4480).

• Cabal now invokes GHC with -Wmissing-home-modules, if that flag is supported (added in version 8.2). This means that you’ll get a warning if you forget to list a module in other-modules or exposed-modules (#4254).

• Verbosity -v now takes an extended format which allows specifying exactly what you want to be logged. The format is [silent|normal|verbose|debug] flags, where flags is a space separated list of flags. At the moment, only the flags +callsite and +callstack are supported; these report the call site/stack of a logging output respectively (these are only supported if Cabal is built with GHC 8.0/7.10.2 or greater, respectively).

• The -v/--verbosity option no longer affects GHC verbosity (except in the case of -v0). Use --ghc-options=-v to enable verbose GHC output (#3540, #3671).

• Packages which use internal libraries can result in multiple registrations; thus --gen-pkg-config can now output a directory of registration scripts rather than a single file.

• Changed the default logfile template from .../$pkgid.log to .../$compiler/\$libname.log (#3807).

• Macros in ‘cabal_macros.h’ are now #ifndef’d, so that they don’t cause an error if the macro is already defined (#3041).

• Added qualified constraints for setup dependencies. For example, --constraint="setup.bar == 1.0" constrains all setup dependencies on bar, and --constraint="foo:setup.bar == 1.0" constrains foo’s setup dependency on bar (part of #3502).

• Non-qualified constraints, such as –constraint=“bar == 1.0”, now only apply to top-level dependencies. They don’t constrain setup or build-tool dependencies. The new syntax --constraint="any.bar ==1.0" constrains all uses of bar.

• Added a new solver flag, --allow-boot-library-installs, that allows normally non-upgradeable packages like base to be installed or upgraded (#4209). Made the ‘template-haskell’ package non-upgradable again (#4185).

• Fixed password echoing on MinTTY (#4128).

• Added optional solver output visualisation support via the tracetree package (#3410). Mainly intended for debugging.

• New ./Setup configure flag --cabal-file, allowing multiple .cabal files in a single directory (#3553). Primarily intended for internal use.

• Removed the --check option from cabal upload (#1823). It was replaced by Hackage package candidates.

• Removed the --root-cmd parameter of the ‘install’ command and deprecated cabal install --global (#3356).

• Removed the top-down solver (#3598).

• Cabal no longer supports using a version bound to disambiguate between an internal and external package (#4020). This should not affect many people, as this mode of use already did not work with the dependency solver.

• Miscellaneous minor and/or internal bug fixes and improvements.

See the full Cabal 2.0 and cabal-install 2.0 changelogs for the complete list of changes in the 2.0 release.

## Acknowledgements

Thanks to everyone who contributed code and bug reports. Full list of people who contributed patches to Cabal/cabal-install 2.0 is available here.

## Looking forward

We plan to make a new release of Cabal/cabal-install before the end of the year – that is, around December 2017. We want to decouple the Cabal release cycle from the GHC one; that’ll allow us to release a new version of Cabal/cabal-install approximately every six months in the future. Main features that are currently targeted at the 2.2 milestone are:

We would like to encourage people considering contributing to take a look at the bug tracker on GitHub, take part in discussions on tickets and pull requests, or submit their own. The bug tracker is reasonably well maintained and it should be relatively clear to new contributors what is in need of attention and which tasks are considered relatively easy. Additionally, the list of potential projects from the latest hackathon and the tickets marked “easy” and “newcomer” can be used as a source of ideas for what to work on.

For more in-depth discussion there is also the cabal-devel mailing list and the #hackage IRC channel on FreeNode.