A command line program for managing the bounds/versions of the dependencies in a cabal file.

Latest on Hackage:2.0.0

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BSD3 licensed by Daniel Trstenjak


A command line program for managing the bounds/versions of the dependencies in a cabal file.

cabal-bounds is able to do these things with the bounds of the dependencies in the cabal file:

  • drop them
  • update them by the library versions of the current cabal build
  • update them by the library versions of a haskell platform release
  • update them by the library versions specified by a file
  • dump the libraries/dependencies and their lower bound versions from the cabal file(s) into a file

Example: Initialize Bounds

If you have started a new project, created a cabal file, added dependencies to it, build it, and now want to set the lower and upper bounds of the dependencies according to the currently used versions of the build, then you can just call:

$> cabal-bounds update

This call will update the bounds of the dependencies of the cabal file in the working directory.

Example: Raise the Upper Bounds

If you have several cabalized projects, then it can be quite time consuming to keep the bounds of your dependencies up to date. Especially if you’re following the package versioning policy, then you want to raise your upper bounds from time to time, to allow the building with newer versions of the dependencies.

cabal-bounds tries to automate this update process to some degree. So a typical update process might look like:

# update the version infos of all libraries
$> cabal update

# create a cabal sandbox for building your project, this ensures that you're really using
# the newest available versions of the dependencies, otherwise you would be constraint
# to the already installed versions
$> cabal sandbox init
# build your project and allow newer library versions used as specified by the cabal file.
$> cabal install --allow-newer

# update the upper bound of all dependencies of the cabal file in the working directory
# if their upper bound is lower then the version used by the build
$> cabal-bounds update --upper

If you’re leaving out the --upper flag then update will widen the bounds on both directions. So the upper bound will only be updated it it’s lower and the lower bound only if it’s greater.

Example: Update Bounds by Haskell Platform

Ensuring that your project builds with the current haskell platform - or perhaps the last two ones - can make it, especially for beginners, a lot easier to build your project.

cabal-bounds supports the updating of the bounds by the library versions of a specific haskell platform release.

To update the bounds to the haskell platform 2013.2.0.0:

$> cabal-bounds update --haskell-platform=2013.2.0.0

There’re two additional symbolic names for specifying a haskell platform release: current and previous.

So one use case might be to initialize the bounds to library versions used by a haskell platform release, test if your project builds and works with these, and then raise the upper bounds to the newest available versions:

# intialize the bounds to the previous haskell platform release
$> cabal-bounds update --haskell-platform=previous

# build and test the project

# initialize the bounds not present in the haskell platform
$> cabal-bounds update

Example: Update Bounds by File

It’s also possible to update the bounds by library versions specified in a file:

$> cabal-bounds update --fromfile=libs.hs

The libs.hs file has to be of the format:

[ ("libA", [0,2,1]), ("libB", [2,1]), ("libC", [1]) ]

If you specify a library file and a haskell platform release at once, then first the haskell platform libraries and versions are considered and then the library file.

The library file can be created by the dump command:

$> cabal-bounds dump --output=libs.hs

The dump command will dump dependencies with their lower bound version. The command can take multiple cabal files. If the same dependencies is present in multiple files, then the lowest lower bound version is taken.

Example: Bound Changes

The => shows what the result is of the operation for every dependency. Left is the dependency before calling the command, right the one after calling.

$> cabal-bounds drop
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens

$> cabal-bounds drop --upper
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1

If the cabal build (the setup-config) uses lens 4.1.2, then the results of the update command would be:

$> cabal-bounds update
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <4.2
lens                   =>   lens >=4.1.2 && <4.2

$> cabal-bounds update --lower
lens >=4.0.1 && <5     =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <5
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1
lens <4.1              =>   lens >=4.1.2
lens                   =>   lens >=4.1.2

$> cabal-bounds update --upper
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <4.2
lens >=4.0.1           =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <4.2
lens                   =>   lens <4.2

You can also specify which component of the version number should be updated:

$> cabal-bounds update --lowercomp=major1
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4 && <4.1

$> cabal-bounds update --uppercomp=minor
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1.3

$> cabal-bounds update --uppercomp=major2
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <4.2

$> cabal-bounds update --uppercomp=major1
lens >=4.0.1 && <4.1   =>   lens >=4.0.1 && <5


You can restrict the modification to certain sections in the cabal file by specifing the type and the name of the section:

  • --library
  • --executable=name
  • --testsuite=name
  • --benchmark=name

If you omit these options, then all sections are considered and modified.

You can also restrict the modification of dependencies by specifing which dependencies should only or shouldn’t be modified:

  • --only=name
  • --ignore=name

You can also only update the dependencies without a bound by specifying the --missing flag. If you omit these options, then all dependencies are considered and modified.

All options taking a name can be specified multiple times: e.g. --executable=exe1 --executable=exe2 or --ignore=base --ignore=whatever

Please consult cabal-bounds --help for a complete list of options.


You have to ensure, that the Cabal library of cabal-bounds matches the one used by the cabal binary:

$> cabal --version
cabal-install version
using version 1.18.1 of the Cabal library 

$> cabal install --constraint="Cabal == 1.18.1" cabal-bounds

If you update the cabal binary and the used Cabal library changes, then you have to rebuild cabal-bounds.


Perhaps the currently most annoying thing is, that you have to live with the reformating of your cabal file done by the pretty printer of the Cabal library.

To only reformat your cabal file you can call cabal-bounds format.


* Migrate from EitherT to ExceptT

* Support Cabal 2.2
* Tested with GHC 8.4.2
* Added cabal-bounds command 'format', for just reformating the cabal file

* Support Cabal 2.1

* Don't ignore the 'base' library anymore
* Bug fix parsing of 'cabal new-build' plan file

* Support 'cabal new-build'
* Add 'libs' subcommand for outputing the libs used by an 'update' run
* Bugfix for missing upper/lower bounds

* By default 'update' now only widens the lower and upper bounds.
So it's easier to raise the upper bounds by just calling
'cabal install --allow-newer' and then 'cabal-bounds update'.

* Raise upper bounds of dependencies
* Support GHC 8.0.1

* Raise upper bounds of dependencies

* Make tests less dependent on the cabal/ghc version

* Automatically find the cabal and setup-config file
* Ignore the base library by default
* Add the only/ignore options to the 'dump' command

* Support Haskell Platform 7.10.2
* Raise upper bounds of dependencies

* Fix misbehaving argument handling of 'dump' command

* Support GHC 7.10.1

* fix bugs introduced with 0.9.1

* Updates for Cabal 1.22.1
* Ensure that cabal files end with a newline
* Don't unnecessarly add '0' to lower bound versions

* Updates for Cabal 1.22

0.8.8, 0.8.9
* Raise upper bounds of dependencies

* Fixing build failure of tasty

* Build/tested with GHC 7.8.3
* Simplified implementation

* Raise upper bounds of dependencies

* Minor changes regarding tests

* Automatically build the setup-config file for the tests

* Add command 'cabal-bounds dump'
* Add option 'fromfile' to command 'cabal-bounds update'
* Support Haskell Platform 2014.2.0.0
* Bugfix for increasing the upper bounds version number
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