Extensible Effects -- An Alternative to Monad Transformers, by Oleg Kiselyov, Amr Sabry and Cameron Swords:
We design and implement a library that solves the long-standing problem of combining effects without imposing restrictions on their interactions (such as static ordering). Effects arise from interactions between a client and an effect handler (interpreter); interactions may vary throughout the program and dynamically adapt to execution conditions. Existing code that relies on monad transformers may be used with our library with minor changes, gaining efficiency over long monad stacks. In addition, our library has greater expressiveness, allowing for practical idioms that are inefﬁcient, cumbersome, or outright impossible with monad transformers.
Our alternative to a monad transformer stack is a single monad, for the coroutine-like communication of a client with its handler. Its type reﬂects possible requests, i.e., possible effects of a computation. To support arbitrary effects and their combinations, requests are values of an extensible union type, which allows adding and, notably, subtracting summands. Extending and, upon handling, shrinking of the union of possible requests is reﬂected in its type, yielding a type-and-effect system for Haskell. The library is lightweight, generalizing the extensible exception handling to other effects and accurately tracking them in types.
A follow-up to Oleg's delimited continuation adaptation of Cartwright and Felleisen's work on Extensible Denotational Language Specifications, which is a promising alternative means of composing effects to the standard monad transformers.
This work embeds a user-extensible effect EDSL in Haskell by encoding all effects into a single effect monad using a novel open union type and the continuation monad. The encoding is very similar to recent work on Algebraic Effects and Handlers, and closely resembles a typed client-server interaction ala coroutines. This seems like a nice convergence of the topics covered in the algebraic effects thread and other recent work on effects, and it's more efficient than monad transformers to boot.