`IO`

transformerIt has been
claimed
that there is no `IO`

transformer in Haskell. This seems overly
pessimistic. The obvious approach is to use

`newtype IOT m a = IOT (m (IO a))`

However, we get stuck when we try to define

`join :: Monad m => m (IO (m (IO a))) -> m (IO a)`

The typical approach would be to try to commute the `IO (m ...)`

to `m (IO ...)`

but there’s just no way to do that. We can’t even do it for
some simple choices of `m`

like `Maybe`

let alone uniformly for all
`Monad`

s `m`

.

But there’s a another way. If we can turn all the `m`

s into `IO`

then
we can just join them all together into one `IO`

action. This
suggests an `IO`

transformer like

`newtype IOT m a = IOT ((forall a. m a -> IO a) -> IO a)`

In fact, it’s just a use of the `Reader`

transformer.

```
newtype Morph f g = Morph { runMorph :: forall a. (f a -> g a) }
newtype IOT m a = IOT { runIOT :: ReaderT (Morph m IO) IO a }
```

Using `ReaderT`

here is just a convenience that means we automatically
get a `Monad`

instance cheaply. It doesn’t play a role of any substance.

```
instance Monad (IOT m) where
return = IOT . return
m >>= f = IOT (runIOT m >>= (runIOT . f))
```

The `MonadTrans`

instance is

```
instance MonadTrans IOT where
lift act = IOT $ do
f <- ask
lift (runMorph f act)
```

That is, we just convert all the `m`

actions into `IO`

actions. (Note
that the latter `lift`

is in `ReaderT`

). Does it satisfy the
`MonadTrans`

laws?
Well (eliding `runMorph`

and `IOT`

wrapping/unwrapping for notational
convenience),

```
lift (return x) = do
f <- ask
lift (f (return x))
```

which is

```
lift (return x) = do
f <- ask
return x
```

in the case where `f (return x)`

= `return x`

, i.e. `lift . return = return`

. Additionally

```
lift (m >>= g) = do
f <- ask
lift (f (m >>= g))
```

which is

```
lift (m >>= g) = do
f <- ask
x <- lift (f m)
f' <- ask
lift (f' (g x))
```

i.e.

`lift m >>= \x -> lift (g x)`

that is

`lift m >>= (lift . g)`

in the case where `f (m >>= g) = f m >>= (f . g)`

. So `lift (m >>= g) = lift m >>= (lift . g)`

.

Thus we see that `IOT`

is a monad transformer *if the reader
environment is a monad morphism* `f`

satisfying

`f (return x) = return x`

`f (m >>= g) = f m >>= (f . g)`

`IOT`

You can run an `IOT m`

action by providing a way of interpreting an
`m`

action in `IO`

. (Remember the interpretation has to be a monad
morphism for the monad laws to hold).

```
runIOT' :: (forall a. m a -> IO a) -> IOT m a -> IO a
runIOT' f m = runReaderT (runIOT m) (Morph f)
```

It seems that there are several uses of this transformer.

`Maybe`

For `m = Maybe`

we can throw an error for `Nothing`

.

```
handleMaybe :: Maybe a -> IO a
handleMaybe Nothing = error "Nothing"
handleMaybe (Just a) = return a
maybeExample :: IO ()
maybeExample = runIOT' handleMaybe $ do
liftIO (putStrLn "Hello")
lift Nothing
liftIO (putStrLn "Goodbye")
> maybeExample
Hello
*** Exception: Nothing
```

`Either`

For `m = Either e`

we can throw an error which depends on the
`Left`

value.

```
handleEither :: Show e => Either e a -> IO a
handleEither (Left e) = error (show e)
handleEither (Right a) = return a
eitherExample :: IO ()
eitherExample = runIOT' handleEither $ do
liftIO (putStrLn "Hello")
lift (Left 1234)
liftIO (putStrLn "Goodbye")
> eitherExample
Hello
*** Exception: 1234
```

`Writer`

For `m = Writer [w]`

we can print a log message.

```
handleWriter :: Show w => Writer [w] a -> IO a
handleWriter m = mapM_ print ws >> return a
where (a, ws) = runWriter m
writerExample :: IO ()
writerExample = runIOT' handleWriter $ do
liftIO (putStrLn "Hello")
lift (tell ["log1", "log2"])
liftIO (putStrLn "Goodbye")
lift (tell ["log3"])
> writerExample
Hello
"log1"
"log2"
Goodbye
"log3"
```

`State s`

For `m = State s`

we can use an `IORef`

to hold the state.

```
stateExample :: IO ()
stateExample = do
ref <- newIORef 0
let handleState :: State Integer a -> IO a
handleState m = do
s <- readIORef ref
let (a, s') = runState m s
writeIORef ref s'
return a
runIOT' handleState $ do
x <- lift get
liftIO (print x)
lift (modify (+1))
y <- lift get
liftIO (print y)
> stateExample
0
1
```

`IO`

transformer?Firstly note that `IOT Maybe`

, `IOT (Either e)`

and `IOT (State s)`

seem to give strictly less power than `MaybeT IO`

, `EitherT e IO`

and
`StateT s IO`

respectively. `IOT (Writer [w])`

does seem to be
different to `WriterT [w] IO`

in that it preserves the ordering of
`IO`

and `Writer`

actions.

But is there some definition for “`M`

transformer”, for an arbitrary
monad `M`

? And what is the justification for saying that Haskell has
no `IO`

transformer? Even though it may not be especially useful,
this `IOT`

seems like a reasonable candidate for one.

```
{-# LANGUAGE Rank2Types #-}
import Control.Monad.Trans.Reader
import Control.Monad.Trans.Writer
import Control.Monad.Trans.State
import Control.Monad.Trans.Class
import Data.IORef
newtype Morph f g = Morph { runMorph :: forall a. (f a -> g a) }
newtype IOT m a = IOT { runIOT :: ReaderT (Morph m IO) IO a }
instance Monad (IOT m) where
return = IOT . return
m >>= f = IOT (runIOT m >>= (runIOT . f))
instance MonadTrans IOT where
lift act = IOT $ do
f <- ask
lift (runMorph f act)
liftIO :: IO a -> IOT m a
liftIO = IOT . lift
handleMaybe :: Maybe a -> IO a
handleMaybe Nothing = error "Nothing"
handleMaybe (Just a) = return a
runIOT' :: (forall a. m a -> IO a) -> IOT m a -> IO a
runIOT' f m = runReaderT (runIOT m) (Morph f)
maybeExample :: IO ()
maybeExample = runIOT' handleMaybe $ do
liftIO (putStrLn "Hello")
lift Nothing
liftIO (putStrLn "Goodbye")
handleEither :: Show e => Either e a -> IO a
handleEither (Left e) = error (show e)
handleEither (Right a) = return a
eitherExample :: IO ()
eitherExample = runIOT' handleEither $ do
liftIO (putStrLn "Hello")
lift (Left 1234)
liftIO (putStrLn "Goodbye")
handleWriter :: Show w => Writer [w] a -> IO a
handleWriter m = mapM_ print ws >> return a
where (a, ws) = runWriter m
writerExample :: IO ()
writerExample = runIOT' handleWriter $ do
liftIO (putStrLn "Hello")
lift (tell ["log1", "log2"])
liftIO (putStrLn "Goodbye")
lift (tell ["log3"])
stateExample :: IO ()
stateExample = do
ref <- newIORef 0
let handleState :: State Integer a -> IO a
handleState m = do
s <- readIORef ref
let (a, s') = runState m s
writeIORef ref s'
return a
runIOT' handleState $ do
x <- lift get
liftIO (print x)
lift (modify (+1))
y <- lift get
```