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> The choice of a pure functional language like Haskell to do lots of IO seems like a strange choice given that Haskell makes side effects like IO more difficult than other languages. I'm curious to know how that affected the implementation. I'd like to use more functional languages, but since my job is primarily IO of some sort, watching people struggle with writing to sockets leaves me more than a little hesitant.

Disclaimer: I haven't read this yet, but your comment above caught my eye and what I'm about to comment applies regardless.

Maybe it makes IO slightly more difficult to begin with, but you can be sure that your all cases are handled after that. Plus once you know about fmap and >>= you can apply pure functions to monadic functions (functions of type IO are monadic because they implement the Monad typeclass (think of it as an interface for now)).

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