I also blog frequently on the Yesod Web Framework blog, as well as the FP Complete blog.

Some Upcoming Crazy Thoughts

July 16, 2017

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I didn't mention it on my blog, but I put it on Twitter, so it's probably not a surprise to most. About five months ago, we had a baby boy (yay!). As you can imagine, new babies take a lot of energy, especially when it's your first baby of four to have colic. Many nights were spent walking Lavi around the block singing. I'm actually pretty lucky none of the neighbors called the cops, my singing definitely counts as disturbing the peace.

Pro tip to any new parents even a little bit superstitious: never say “We've been through all of this before, this baby can't surprise us.”

Anyway, I'm not wont to share personal anecdotes on this blog, but I mention this because I've obviously been pretty distracted with baby things. Fortunately, the baby is just about done with colic (just in time to start teething of course). Between that extra energy drain evaporating, having had lots of time to let my mind wander while walking a crying baby, and a few other things I'll detail at the end of this post, I've gotten to mentally explore some crazier ideas.

I've already been blogging a bit on fpcomplete.com about monad transformers. Expect some similar things on streaming data and polymorphism (perhaps) in the next few weeks. Also, I'll probably talk more about exceptions, though the thoughts there are less crazy and more reaffirming previous things.

A good question is why am I bothering with this blog post at all. I actually drafted most of it and then decided not to publish it for about a week. My thinking here is I don't want anyone taking my crazy thoughts too seriously. I like to explore ideas, and I explore ideas best by actually writing libraries and blog posts about them. In other words, I throw things at the wall and see what sticks. I usually buy into the idea completely for a bit to avoid second-guessing derailing an idea, and then take a step back afterwards to see if I like it.

Besides having reduced keyboard time for the past five months, here are some of the other stimuli leading to some of the ideas I'll be sharing:

  • I've spent considerably more effort on training. I've been doing documentation and tutorial writing for a while, but I've had multiple opportunities recently to train in a more direct setting. This has helped remind me of some of the newcomer experiences I've forgotten.

  • Similar to this, my time at LambdaConf earlier this year was great. My conference experiences usually are either non-functional programming conferences where I'm the Haskell anomaly, or advanced functional crowds. The huge mixture of experience levels with FP and Haskell at LambdaConf was wonderful and eye-opening (or perhaps reopening).

  • I've been working on a few projects where my major focus is on review and debugging, which forces me to focus less on making it easy to write code the first time, and more on writing code for maintainability and robustness (yeah, vague terms, don't beat me up over it).

  • Most recently, I did a major 10-day-straight hacking fest on the Stack code base, after not having seriously touched it for months (and the parts in question for over a year). I got to play with major refactorings and focuses on readability and future extensibility.

  • And in addition to all of this Haskell stuff, I've finally forced myself to start learning a new language for the first time in ten years. I went through quite the journey through programming languages before I hit on Haskell, and since then I've been so happy with it that I haven't wanted to touch anything else. But in the past half year, I've gotten into two languages to various extents:

    • PureScript This honestly wasn't much of a learning experience, since it's close enough to Haskell. I think GHCJS is a great project, and have enjoyed both Reflex and various React layers in it. But the smaller output and strict nature of PureScript make it something I wanted to experience for front end development.

    • Rust As I said on Twitter: "Rust is the first language I've learned in ten years (since Haskell) that both teaches new concepts and does stuff Haskell can't." Rust is an interesting language, promotes safety in a way that I like (the main reason I love Haskell to be honest), and has a really well designed community experience around it.

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