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The Revenge of the Pragmatists

The Revenge of the Pragmatists

Slides from talk given at Clojure SYNC 2018.

Baishampayan Ghose

February 15, 2018
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  1. Revenge of the Pragmatists or, lessons learnt from running a

    Clojure startup (info :BG) => {:name "BG", :govt-id "Baishampayan Ghose", :twitter "@ghoseb"} 1 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  2. whoami • Background in Lisp, Distributed Systems, Information Retrieval •

    Built Air travel booking system in Common Lisp & a Sport Social Network in Python • Dissatisfied with mutable, inconsistent, crippled, slow languages • Early adopter of Clojure in late-2008 • Co-founder & Ex-CTO of Helpshift, Inc. 2 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  3. Most business software is • Automation of repetitive business processes

    • Data processing heavy • Potentially high-throughput (but not necessarily low latency) • Multiple database technologies • Cloud deployed • Constantly changing requirements • Held together with duct tape 3 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  4. The language I wanted • Dynamically typed • Lisp-like •

    First-class functions • Good library ecosystem • Immutable data-structures • I wanted the language to get out of my way 4 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  5. Discovering Clojure • At first, I saw the J(ava) in

    Clojure and I ran • Later, I found the jewels • Extremely well-designed and simple language • Designed to be practical • Experienced & welcoming community members • It's a Lisp! • The JVM is an excellent runtime host 5 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  6. But it was a risky bet! • A <1 year

    old language • Tooling was lacking (no Leiningen!) • No powerful features like Protocols, clojure.spec, etc. • It is a Lisp! Meh. However, I was convinced enough to invest in Clojure. Now onto the bigger problem... 6 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  7. Businesses often don't choose technologies for their power of leverage,

    but for their risk mitigation properties. — Anonymous Coward, Ca. 2017 7 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  8. Convincing Business Stakeholders • Ease of hiring • Industry reports

    • Blog posts from competition • Hacker News frenzy 8 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  9. Convincing Business Stakeholders • Ease of hiring • Industry reports

    • Blog posts from competition • Hacker News frenzy • Authority • Responsibility 9 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  10. Even if you want to fix just one thing, you

    may need to fix the whole system. — Anonymous Coward, Ca. 2017 10 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  11. Recruiting a team • Juniors don't know what to learn

    • Mid-levels don't know how to learn • Seniors don't want to learn • May be go for the middle to start with then? 11 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  12. What didn't matter • Degree • Major • Years of

    experience with foobar 12 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  13. What mattered • Fundamentals • Passion to do better •

    Humility to accept feedback • Patience to keep practising • Culture-fit (more on this later) • Recruiting in a sustained vs. burst mode 13 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  14. Don't hire teams, grow them. — Anonymous Coward, Ca. 2017

    14 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  15. Training • Start with the book! • Mentoring (especially marginalized

    groups) • Bootcamps • Conferences • Helped organise two, supported many • Book reading groups • Meetups 15 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  16. Culture • Culture is like scalable training, with feedback •

    In case of conflict, culture is the arbiter • Built through repeatable processes • Code reviews • Upfront design • Style guides, linter tools • Curated list of libraries (internal/external) 16 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  17. At scale, all problems become people problems. — Anonymous Coward,

    Ca. 2017 17 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  18. Challenges Faced • Clojure demands up-front design that's sometimes hard

    to justify • Sometimes lack of good/tested libraries add to the pressure • Language never tripped us up, sometimes had runtime issues • GC pauses • Memory leaks • Laziness • Championing change 18 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  19. Lessons Learnt • Small, dedicated teams can do a lot

    with FP & Clojure • Functional Programming does help in building reliable software • Never had memory corruption or inconsistent state bugs • Concurrency and parallelism was simpler • Functional Programming is ideally suited for data processing • Estimation is still hard • Must try ClojureScript 19 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  20. Clojure made me do this • Parsers • Interpreters, Compilers

    • State Machines • Lockless concurrency • Monadic patterns • Immutable everywhere • Weild the power of the JVM (V8, etc.) 20 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  21. Big Wins • Was able to assemble an amazing team

    (100+) • Raised $40MM in funding till date • SDK installed 2 Billion+ times • Company went on to having 600MM+ monthly active users • 50K+ requests per second • Multi-datacenter, multi-tenant, SaaS • 400K+ SLOC Clojure (largest repo had ~250K SLOC) 21 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  22. Clojure is the ideal language for pragmatic programmers with deadlines.

    — Anonymous Coward, Ca. 2017 22 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  23. Some parting thoughts... • Building software is unnecessarily difficult •

    Distributed Systems == Distributed Problems • Process : Clojure :: System : ??? • Developers need to learn Ethics • Clojure will probably never be a TIOBE #1 language • But does it matter? 23 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  24. Stop coding. Let's build software! — Anonymous Coward, Ca. 2017

    24 Clojure/SYNC 2018
  25. Thank you! Questions? @ghoseb on Twitter & Github 25 Clojure/SYNC

    2018