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License: BSD 3-clause "New" or "Revised" License
Tags: Web     Webcrank    

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Webcrank is an ambitious project to build a fast, reliable and correct, HTTP toolkit.

Heavily inspired by the approach that Webmachine takes, this project aims to fulfill a similar goal, to fit somewhere above bit and string twiddling at a HTTP primitive level, but below colour-by-numbers (and likely with broken HTTP semantics) web framework du jour.

Webcrank shall provide a suite of tools that enable plumbing of your well architected software into the horrors of HTTP, importantly these tools should make it easy to produce a well behaving HTTP application that is easy to implement, test and debug.


This is where things get slightly interesting. The plan is to build both a Scala and Haskell version in parallel. It would be nice, but not necessary, if the implementations end up being pretty close, but it should be possible to leverage testing, docs and other resources across both implementations.



Everyone who is interested should feel welcome to contribute, and we would like as many people as possible to get involved. There are a number of people who strongly believe we need a strong implementation of this type of toolkit in a functional, typed language (or even two), and it won't happen without a number of people working together.

At the moment, I am organising things myself, so ping me on twitter (@markhibberd), email ([email protected]), or just create an issue on github.


The development approach and techniques that we use should set this project apart from others. Over time this list should grow, it could be filled with a bunch of personal grievances against code, but instead it has been seeded with the two over arching goals, and two technical considerations.


  1. Correctness
  2. Reliability

Technical considerations

  1. Types
  2. No reflection. Ever. (See goal 1)

Prior Art

This is obviously a well explored space. As stated, significant insight has been taken from Basho's Webmachine, but there are a few other attempts in Scala and other typed languages worth mentioning (raise pull request if you want to add something to the list, a complete list will be helpful).

  1. Basho's Webmachine
  2. Webmachine HTTP Diagram
  3. Stackmob's Scalamachine
  4. @purefn's webapparatus

Issues with the above libraries (and other HTTP stacks in Scala and Haskell), the desire for a particularly coherent development approach, etc... have led to the drive for this clean room implementation. But while this is a fresh start, it would be unwise to ignore other implementations. Ideally, we will be able to share ideas and even code as things progress and reach a level of maturity.


This is the result of hard questions, complaints and prodding after a twitter conversation between @markhibberd @jedws @possiblywrong @dibblego @neutralthoughts @gersei @purefn and possibly a few others that spewed over onto #scalaz.

On HTTP, and worse is worse

When this originally came up, there was a side discussion echoed a few times, that can be paraphrased as "HTTP is shit, who cares, why bother" (This sounds harsher than it actually was, but it summarises the point nicely), and I even agree to some extent with this sentiment. But it ignores an important point that is missed too often in technology discussions: it really is 'turtles all the way down', and by turtles I obviously mean total rubbish.

Examining this, say we ignore HTTP; we have sockets - again total rubbish as a programming model; files - derp; tcp - blurg; hardware - arghhhh!!!; these are not technologies we should be happy about, but here we are programming against them. And this is why we need tools and techniques that let us deal with the unreliable, the horrible, the nasty bug-enabling technology of our industry and turn it something that we can reason about, and use reliably.

This is why this project should exist, for those times when the intolerable technology you are dealing with happens to be HTTP.