When comparing Haskell vs Clojure, the Slant community recommends Clojure for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Clojure is ranked 14th while Haskell is ranked 22nd. The most important reason people chose Clojure is:
Clojure programmers are highly encouraged to use immutable data in their code. Therefore, most data will be immutable by default. State change is handled by functions (for transformations) and atoms (an abstraction that encapsulates the idea of some entity having an identity).
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Forces you to learn pure functional programming
It is pure and does not mix other programming paradigms into the language. This forces you to learn functional programming in its most pure form. This avoids you falling back on old habits and learn an entirely new way to program.
Pro Open source
All Haskell implementations are completely free and open source.
Pro Highly transferable concepts
Haskell's referential transparency, consistency, mathematics-oriented culture, and heavy amount of abstraction encourage problem solving at a very high level. The fact that this is all built upon little other than function application means that not only is the thought process, but even concrete solutions are very transferable to any other language. In fact, in Haskell, it's quite common for a solution to simply be written as an interpreter that can then generate code in some other language. Many other languages employ language-specific features, or work around a lack of features with heavy-handed design patterns that discourage abstraction, meaning that a lot of what is learned, and a lot of code that is needed to solve a particular problem just isn't very applicable to any other language's ecosystem.
Pro Referentially transparent
Haskell's Purely Functional approach means that code is referentially transparent. This means that to read a function, one only needs to know its arguments. Code works the same way that expressions work in Algebra class. There's no need to read the whole source code to determine if there's some subtle reference to some mutable state, and no worries about someone writing a "getter" that also mutates the object it's called on. Functions are all directly testable in the REPL, and there's no need to remember to call methods in a certain order to properly initialize an object. No breakage of encapsulation, and no leaky abstractions.
Pro Mathematical consistency
As Haskell lends itself exceedingly well to abstraction, and borrows heavily from the culture of pure mathematics, it means that a lot more code conforms to very high-level abstractions. You can expect code from vastly different libraries to follow the same rules, and to be incredibly self-consistent. It's not uncommon to find that a parser library works the same way as a string library, which works the same way as a window manager library. This often means that getting familiar and productive with new libraries is often much easier than in other languages.
Pro Very few language constructs
The base language relies primarily on function application, with a very small amount of special-case syntax. Once you know the rules for function application, you know most of the language.
Pro Quick feedback
It's often said that, in Haskell, if it compiles, it works. This short feedback loop can speed up learning process, by making it clear exactly when and where mistakes are made.
Pro Easy to read
Haskell is a very terse language, particularly due to its type inference. This means there's nothing to distract from the intent of the code, making it very readable. This is in sharp contrast to languages like Java, where skimming code requires learning which details can be ignored. Haskell's terseness also lends itself to very clear inline examples in textbooks, and makes it a pleasure to read through code even on a cellphone screen.
Pro Functions curry automatically
Every function that expects more than one arguments is basically a function that returns a partially applied function. This is well-suited to function composition, elegance, and concision.
Pro Easy syntax for people with a STEM degree
Since the basic syntax is very similar to mathematics, Haskell syntax should be easy for people who have taken higher math courses since they would be used to the symbols used in maths.
Pro Hand-writeable concise syntax
Conciseness of Haskell lets us to write the expression on the whiteboard or paper and discuss with others easily. This is a strong benefit to learn FP over other languages.
Pro Popular in teaching
Haskell is really popular in universities and academia as a tool to teach programming. A lot of books for people who don't know programming are written around Haskell. This means that there are a lot of resources for beginners in programming with which to learn Haskell and functional programming concepts.
Pro Immutability is the default
Clojure programmers are highly encouraged to use immutable data in their code. Therefore, most data will be immutable by default.
State change is handled by functions (for transformations) and atoms (an abstraction that encapsulates the idea of some entity having an identity).
Pro Minimal syntax
Being a LISP, programs are simple: they're just functions and data. That it doesn't get bogged down with syntax or the loftier FP concepts like monads makes it one of most approachable functional languages for beginners.
Pro Tries to solve problems as simply as possible
Simplicity is one of the pillars on which Clojure is built. Clojure tries to solve many problems in software development as simply as possible. Instead of building complex interfaces, objects or factories, it uses immutability and simple data structures.
Pro Good for writing concurrent programs
Since Clojure is designed for concurrency, it offers things like Software Transaction Memory, functional programming without side-effects and immutable data structures right out of the box. This means that the development team can focus their energies on developing features instead of concurrency details.
Pro Huge ecosystem of libraries to work with
There's a very large ecosystem of high-quality Clojure libraries which developers can use. One example is Incanter. It's a great data analytics library and a very powerful tool for dealing with matrices, datasets and csv files.
Pro Cross platform
Clojure compiles to JVM bytecode and runs inside the JVM. This means that applications written in Clojure are cross-platform out of the box.
Pro Rich Hickey
The creator is so awesome, he's a feature. Just look up his talks and see why.
Clojure has an elegant macro system which enables language additions, Domain-specific languages (DSLs), to be created much easier than most other languages (with the exception of Racket, perhaps).
Pro Dynamic language
A superb data processing language. While rich type and specification systems are available they are optional.
Pro Great tool used in automating, configuring and managing dependencies available
Leiningen is a very useful tool for Clojure developers. It helps wiht automation, configuration and dependency management. It's basically a must for every Clojure project.
Pro Game is available with which you can learn Clojure
Nightmod is a tool used to make "live-moddable" games. It displays the game's code while you are playing and allows you to inject new code using Clojure. This can be a fun and useful experience for people trying to learn Clojure.
Pro No C/Java syntax
Con Difficult learning curve
Haskell lends itself well to powerful abstractions - the result is that even basic, commonly used libraries, while easy to use, are implemened using a vocabularly that requires a lot of backround in abstract mathematics to understand. Even a concept as simple as "combine A and B" is often, both in code and in tutorials, described in terms of confusing and discouraging terms like "monad", "magma", "monoid", "groupoid", and "ring". This also occasionally bears its ugly head in the form of complicated error messages from type inference.
Con Language Extensions lead to unfamiliar code
Haskell's language extensions, while making the language incredibly flexible for experienced users, makes a lot of code incredibly unfamiliar for beginners. Some pragmas, like NoMonomorphismRestriction, have effects that seem completely transparent in code, leading beginners to wonder why it's there. Others, like ViewPatterns, and particularly TemplateHaskell, create completely new syntax rules that render code incomprehensible to beginners expecting vanilla function application.
Con Symbols everywhere
Haskell allows users to define their own infix operators, even with their own precedence. The result is that some code is filled with foreign looking operators that are assumed to be special-case syntax. Even for programmers who know they're just functions, operators that change infix precedence can potentially break expectations of how an expression is evaluated, if not used with care.
Con Package manager is unstable & lacking features
Cabal (There are other choices but this is the most popular) can not uninstall a package. Also working at a few locations it is difficult to have the same environment for each one be the same.
Con You need some time to start seeing results
Haskell's static typing, while helpful when building a project, can be positively frustrating for beginners. Quick feedback for errors means delaying the dopamine hit of code actually running. While in some languages, a beginner's first experience may be their code printing "Hello World" and then crashing, in Haskell, similar code would more likely be met with an incomprehensible type error.
Con You have to learn more than just FP
Haskell is not only a functional language but also a lazy, and statically typed one. Not only that but it's almost necessary to learn about monads before you can do anything useful.
Con Documentation for most packages is short and lacking
A few Haskell packages are well documented but this is the exception, not the rule.
Most of the time a list of function signatures is what passes for documentation.
Con Too academic, hard to find "real world" code examples
Con Curried type signatures obfuscate what were the in and out types originally
Con Lazily Evaluated
Haskell's lazy evaluation implies a level of indirection - you're not passing a value, you're passing a thunk. This is often difficult to grasp not just for beginners, but for experienced programmers coming from strictly evaluated languages. This also means that, since for many, strict evaluation is their first instinct, initial expectations of a function's performance and complexity are often broken.
Con Confusing error messages
Clojure's error messages more often than not are very confusing. They usually involve stack traces that do not thoroughly explain where the error was caused or what caused it.
Con Tied to the JVM and it's limitations.
Some language constructs were obviously created as workarounds for JVM limitations. This makes the language much less elegant than it could have been.
Also, the JVM has a very cumbersome FFI.
Con Dynamic types
You can put anything in. This makes reasoning about code after a time has passed very hard.
Con Syntax can be alien / jarring for those used to other Lisps
Perhaps some may consider this attribute an advantage, but I do not. Clojure does not attempt to maintain significant compatibility with other Lisps. So, if you already know a Lisp or are used to the way Lisp works in general, you'll probably be confused if you take a look at Clojure. See these resources for more details on this subject: