Fun, functional, and teachable?

Can Elixir bring functional programming to a much wider audience?

I was delighted to talk with Dave Thomas, co-founder of the The Pragmatic Programmers and author of their in-progress Programming Elixir. I’m writing Introducing Elixir for O’Reilly, and we both seem to be enjoying the progress of the language.

I caught up with Dave last month at Erlang Factory, right after he’d delivered a remarkable keynote challenging the Erlang Community to remove barriers to adoption with Jose Valim. (I also interviewed Jose, the creator of Elixir.)

Apart from the sheer joy of writing about this topic, in a community that’s eager to get things right, we talked about:

  • How “not knowing anything about publishing was a strength in this particular case.” [4:25]
  • “pretty clear that as we move to the future, we’re going to be living in a multi-core, distributed, concurrent – all the buzzwords – world. The conventional models we’ve been doing, the OO stuff we’ve been doing, is not going to survive in that kind of environment. [7:17]
  • The search for a functional language that enables teaching [8:34]
  • “I went back to the room, downloaded the latest Elixir, and was still playing with it until two in the morning… that’s the feeling I had when I started with Ruby.” [10:10]
  • “Why try to replace Erlang?” [12:50]
  • Working with Jose Valim and the community to fix issues [13:50]
  • “picture of a language that is approachable and easy yet incredibly powerful.” [15:28]
  • Writing about moving targets – Elixir moves less than Rails, with fewer bumps. [18:57]
  • “Elixir is a gateway drug into the functional world… and has things that go beyond what many functional languages give you.” [20:06]

I share Dave’s excitement about Elixir, and fear that it’s set a high bar for my enjoyment of other languages.

tags: , , , ,