Typeable
in GHC 7.8
Kindpolymorphic The page describes an improved implementation of the Typeable
class, using polymorphic kinds, available from GHC 7.8. Technically it is straightforward, but it represents a nonbackwardcompatible change to a widely used library, so we had to make a plan for the transition.
Relevant tickets we fixed: #5391 (closed), #5863 (closed).
Typeable
class before 7.8
The Before 7.8, the Typeable
class was as follows:
class Typeable (a :: *) where
typeOf :: a > TypeRep
Because it was monokinded we also had
class Typeable1 (f :: *>*) where
typeOf1 :: f a > TypeRep
and so on up to Typeable7
. It was a mess, and we couldn't make Typeable
at all for
type constructors with higher kinds like
Foo :: (* > *) > *
See #5391 (closed).
Typeable
class, in GHC 7.8
The new Having polymorphic kinds lets us say this:
data Proxy t = Proxy
class Typeable t where
typeRep :: proxy t > TypeRep
Notice that

Typeable
has a polymorphic kind:Typeable :: forall k. k > Constraint

The method is called
typeRep
rather thantypeOf

One reason for the name change is that the argument is not a value of the type
t
, but a value of type(proxy t)
. We have to do this becauset
may have any kind, so we can't saytypeOf :: t > TypeRep

You can instantiate
proxy
to whatever you want; one common choice is the polykindedProxy
datatype:Proxy:: forall k. k > *
Now the base library code can have kindspecific instances:
instance Typeable Int where typeRep _ = ...
instance Typeable [] where typeRep _ = ...
instance (Typeable a, Typeable b) => Typeable (a b) where
typeRep _ = ...
A use of deriving( Typeable )
for a type constructor T
always generates
instance Typable T where typeRep _ = ....
i.e. an instance of T
itself, not applied to anything.
How to make your code compile again
If you have code involving Typeable
that fails to compile with 7.8, it might be due to the changes described above. Here's a few things to keep in mind in order to make your code compile again:

Users can no longer giving manual instances of
Typeable
; they must be derived. 
Manual instances were often written for datatypes with non kind
*
arguments. These can now be derived without problems. So if you had, for example:data Fix f = In (f (Fix f)) instance (Typeable1 f) => Typeable (Fix f) where typeOf = ...
you can now simply attach
deriving Typeable
toFix
. 
You can still use
typeOf1..7
; they are now just (deprecated) typespecific versions oftypeRep
. But keep in mind that they are no longer methods of a class, as the classesTypeable1..7
no longer exist. 
You can still use
Typeable1..7
; they are now just (deprecated) type synonyms forTypeable
, fixing the kind of their argument. But keep in mind that they are no longer classes, just type synonyms. 
If all else fails, you could just try replacing your
import Data.Typeable
withimport Data.OldTypeable
. But keep in mind thatOldTypeable
is distinct, and incompatible with the newTypeable
. 
If you want code that compiles with multiple versions of GHC, you should use CPP. The tagged package on Hackage is a good example of how to achieve this.
A changeover plan
In GHC 7.8:

Rename
Data.Typeable
toData.OldTypeable
and deprecate the whole module. 
Define a new library
Data.Typeable
with the new definitions in them. 
Include in
Data.Typeable
old methods for backward compatibility, but deprecate them:typeOf :: forall a. Typeable a => a > TypeRep typeOf _ = typeRep (Proxy :: Proxy a) typeOf1 :: forall t (a :: *). Typeable t => t a > TypeRep typeOf1 _ = typeRep (Proxy :: Proxy t) type Typeable1 (a :: * > *) = Typeable a type Typeable2 (a :: * > * > *) = Typeable a

Make
deriving( Typeable )
work with whateverTypeable
class is in scope. So what it does will be determined by whether you sayimport Data.Typeable
orimport Data.OldTypeable
.
In GHC 7.10:
 Remove
Data.OldTypeable
Aside
Open question: what are the corresponding changes to Data.Data
? See #4896 (closed).