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11.4. Making DLLs to be called from other languages

If you want to package up Haskell code to be called from other languages, such as Visual Basic or C++, there are some extra things it is useful to know. The dirty details are in the Foreign Function Interface definition, but it can be tricky to work out how to combine this with DLL building, so here's an example:

  • Use foreign export declarations to export the Haskell functions you want to call from the outside. For example,
    module Adder where
    adder :: Int -> Int -> IO Int  -- gratuitous use of IO
    adder x y = return (x+y)
    foreign export stdcall adder :: Int -> Int -> IO Int

  • Compile it up:
    ghc -c adder.hs -fglasgow-exts
    This will produce two files, adder.o and adder_stub.o

  • compile up a DllMain() that starts up the Haskell RTS-––a possible implementation is:
    #include <windows.h>
    #include <Rts.h>
    static char* args[] = { "ghcDll", NULL };
                           /* N.B. argv arrays must end with NULL */
       ( HANDLE hModule
       , DWORD reason
       , void* reserved
      if (reason == DLL_PROCESS_ATTACH) {
          /* By now, the RTS DLL should have been hoisted in, but we need to start it up. */
          startupHaskell(1, args, __stginit_Adder);
          return TRUE;
      return TRUE;
    Here, Adder is the name of the root module in the module tree (as mentioned above, there must be a single root module, and hence a single module tree in the DLL). Compile this up:
    ghc -c dllMain.c

  • Construct the DLL:
    ghc ––mk-dll -o adder.dll adder.o adder_stub.o dllMain.o

  • Start using adder from VBA-––here's how I would Declare it:
    Private Declare Function adder Lib "adder.dll" Alias "adder@8"
          (ByVal x As Long, ByVal y As Long) As Long
    Since this Haskell DLL depends on a couple of the DLLs that come with GHC, make sure that they are in scope/visible.

    Building statically linked DLLs is the same as in the previous section: it suffices to add -static to the commands used to compile up the Haskell source and build the DLL.