Making a Read instance in Haskell

I have a data type

data Time = Time {hour :: Int,
                  minute :: Int
                 }

for which i have defined the instance of Show as being

instance Show Time where
  show (Time hour minute) = (if hour > 10
                             then (show hour)
                             else ("0" ++ show hour))
                            ++ ":" ++
                            (if minute > 10
                             then (show minute)
                             else ("0" ++ show minute))

which prints out times in a format of 07:09.

Now, there should be symmetry between Show and Read, so after reading (but not truly (i think) understanding) this and this, and reading the documentation, i have come up with the following code:

instance Read Time where
  readsPrec _ input =
    let hourPart = takeWhile (/= ':')
        minutePart = tail . dropWhile (/= ':')
    in (\str -> [(newTime
                  (read (hourPart str) :: Int)
                  (read (minutePart str) :: Int), "")]) input

This works, but the "" part makes it seem wrong. So my question ends up being:

Can anyone explain to me the correct way to implement Read to parse "07:09" into newTime 7 9 and/or show me?

Answers


I'll use isDigit and keep your definition of Time.

import Data.Char (isDigit)

data Time = Time {hour :: Int,
                  minute :: Int
                 }

You used but didn't define newTime, so I wrote one myself so my code compiles!

newTime :: Int -> Int -> Time
newTime h m | between 0 23 h && between 0 59 m = Time h m
            | otherwise = error "newTime: hours must be in range 0-23 and minutes 0-59"
     where between low high val = low <= val && val <= high

Firstly, your show instance is a little wrong because show $ Time 10 10 gives "010:010"

instance Show Time where
  show (Time hour minute) = (if hour > 9       -- oops
                             then (show hour)
                             else ("0" ++ show hour))
                            ++ ":" ++
                            (if minute > 9     -- oops
                             then (show minute)
                             else ("0" ++ show minute))

Let's have a look at readsPrec:

*Main> :i readsPrec
class Read a where
  readsPrec :: Int -> ReadS a
  ...
    -- Defined in GHC.Read
*Main> :i ReadS
type ReadS a = String -> [(a, String)]
    -- Defined in Text.ParserCombinators.ReadP

That's a parser - it should return the unmatched remaining string instead of just "", so you're right that the "" is wrong:

*Main> read "03:22" :: Time
03:22
*Main> read "[23:34,23:12,03:22]" :: [Time]
*** Exception: Prelude.read: no parse

It can't parse it because you threw away the ,23:12,03:22] in the first read.

Let's refactor that a bit to eat the input as we go along:

instance Read Time where
  readsPrec _ input =
    let (hours,rest1) = span isDigit input
        hour = read hours :: Int
        (c:rest2) = rest1
        (mins,rest3) = splitAt 2 rest2
        minute = read mins :: Int
        in
      if c==':' && all isDigit mins && length mins == 2 then -- it looks valid
         [(newTime hour minute,rest3)]
       else []                      -- don't give any parse if it was invalid

Gives for example

Main> read "[23:34,23:12,03:22]" :: [Time]
[23:34,23:12,03:22]
*Main> read "34:76" :: Time
*** Exception: Prelude.read: no parse

It does, however, allow "3:45" and interprets it as "03:45". I'm not sure that's a good idea, so perhaps we could add another test length hours == 2.


I'm going off all this split and span stuff if we're doing it this way, so maybe I'd prefer:

instance Read Time where
  readsPrec _ (h1:h2:':':m1:m2:therest) =
    let hour   = read [h1,h2] :: Int  -- lazily doesn't get evaluated unless valid
        minute = read [m1,m2] :: Int
        in
      if all isDigit [h1,h2,m1,m2] then -- it looks valid
         [(newTime hour minute,therest)]
       else []                      -- don't give any parse if it was invalid
  readsPrec _ _ = []                -- don't give any parse if it was invalid

Which actually seems cleaner and simpler to me.

This time it doesn't allow "3:45":

*Main> read "3:40" :: Time
*** Exception: Prelude.read: no parse
*Main> read "03:40" :: Time
03:40
*Main> read "[03:40,02:10]" :: [Time]
[03:40,02:10]

If the input to readsPrec is a string that contains some other characters after a valid representation of a Time, those other characters should be returned as the second element of the tuple.

So for the string 12:34 bla, the result should be [(newTime 12 34, " bla")]. Your implementation would cause an error for that input. This means that something like read "[12:34]" :: [Time] would fail because it would call Time's readsPrec with "12:34]" as the argument (because readList would consume the [, then call readsPrec with the remaining string, and then check that the remaining string returned by readsPrec is either ] or a comma followed by more elements).

To fix your readsPrec you should rename minutePart to something like afterColon and then split that into the actual minute part (with takeWhile isDigit for example) and whatever comes after the minute part. Then the stuff that came after the minute part should be returned as the second element of the tuple.


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