Links, the Clojure edition

I'm wrapping up my current apprenticeship project, a simple HTTP server, which has exposed me to Clojure so that I have a functional programming language in my toolkit alongside an object-oriented one. I do find functional programming far more intuitive than object-oriented programming: a lot of the concepts have close parallels in mathematics, and at least on a naive level, it's much more similar to writing scripts in an imperative paradigm, which is where most of my experience with programming lies.

In addition to being an example of a functional programming language, Clojure also belongs to the Lisp family. So yes, it has a lot of nested parentheses, as well as as reverse Polish notation. I thought the latter would be hard to get used to, but once I started thinking of it as being similar to mathematical functional notation, it actually made a lot of sense and led to a very satisfying degree of consistency in syntax that is one of Clojure's (and Lisp's) main attractions.

Here are some interesting Clojure-related links:

Clojure Cheatsheet: Quickest way to navigate Clojure documentation and look up any function in the core.

clojure-bowling: Implementation of the bowling game kata in Clojure, using lazy sequences. Very slick and very true to Clojure idiom.

Clojure Style Guide: Style guide for Clojure code, which I still haven't fully digested...

How to ns: A whole article on specifically how to style namespace declarations, by Stuart Sierra, the same author for the above.

TDD in ClojureScript: I haven't really done anything in ClojureScript yet, but my mentor wrote this blog post about how to set up a good TDD environment for a ClojureScript project.

Tetris in ClojureScript: Speaking of ClojureScript, a really cool implementation of a browser-based Tetris game. The slides include the link to the Github repo with all the code.

SICP lecture videos: Not strictly Clojure, but since you can't mention Lisp without thinking of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs...As an alternative or supplementation to working your way through the text, here are uploaded lecture videos of the MIT course on which the book was based. Hat tip to the ChiPy mailing list, where I originally got the link.

...And not really to do with Clojure at all, but:

Vim anti-patterns: I've taken the tips in this article to heart as I continue in my quest to improve my Vim usage.1

Modern pandas: Better ways to use pandas. I have yet to fully delve into this post, but I listened to a talk last month on pandas best practices that was really mindblowing, and the speaker attributed most of his insights to this blog post by one of the main contributors to the package.

  1. Permit me to take a moment here to rant about the term "anti-pattern". It is really popular in tech/software circles, to the point where it's been applied to other contexts. E.g. "meeting anti-patterns" or "office layout anti-patterns". Let me just point out that when first faced with the term, a reasonably educated layperson would conclude that it referred to the opposite of a pattern: something that is disorganized or random. But the actual meaning is a negative pattern that impedes functionality or productivity. There's really no good way to arrive at this definition unless you have the assumption that patterns are inherently positive, which I guess makes sense to programmers who usually associate the word "pattern" with "design pattern". But to the rest of the world, patterns are value-neutral. So it makes very little sense to apply the term to anything that isn't related to software design. Arguably, if the reasonably educated layperson can't deduce the correct meaning from breaking down the word, it qualifies as jargon and doesn't belong in effective technical writing. (Latter rule courtesy of a professor in grad school, who memorably told us to stop using "Western blotting" and say "immunoblotting" instead.) I doubt anyone will agree with me or care, but what other purpose do blogs serve than to provide an outlet for one's pedantic pet peeves...  

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