Archive for May, 2010

The programming equivalent of “a long stand”

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Builders apprentices often get sent on pointless endeavours, such as going for “a long stand”, “tartan paint” or a “sky hook”.

I think I saw the programming equivalent today – proving that a GUID is not unique.

The poor programmer does get a bit much stick, but he has just tried to write a loop that will take 10790283070806014188970 years to compute. He then asks if using multiple threads will help solve his problem…

Clojure Resources

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

I’ve recently been learning Clojure, a form of Lisp that runs on the JVM.¬† There are already a lot of resources about Clojure on the internet, but they vary in depth and usefulness. Therefore, I’ve compiled a bit of an overview of the various resources, in the hope that it helps the new Clojure (and Lisp) programmer get started:

  • Why you might want to consider learning/using Clojure is concisely covered by Rich Hickey here.
  • One of the first decisions you will face is which editor to use. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily an easy decision. Clojure and Lisp programmers typically use a REPL to interact with their programs as they are writing them. You want your editor to have some level of integration with a Clojure REPL. This Getting Started resource covers most of the common choices. It’s probably worth saying that Emacs offers one of the most mature and powerful environments and is a good choice if you are already comfortable with the editor. If you’re on Windows, Clojure Box offers a quick way to get started with Clojure and Emacs. Personally, I’ve tried¬† the Eclipse plug-in counter-clockwise, but had some problems with it and I currently use Vim set-up according to this guide at write-quit. (I see counter-clockwise has had a new release since I tested it, so it may well be worth revisiting).
  • Once you have your environment set up, you will probably want some sort of quick start guide. One of the most commonly referenced tutorials is R. Mark Volkmann’s at ociweb. This is certainly a very valuable and authoritative resource, but I found it rather hard-going for a first contact. The Intro to Clojure video series was highly rated by this stackoverflow question, but I can’t say I want to use videos to learn a language.
  • Regarding books, Stuart Halloway has ported some of the Practical Common Lisp book (original available free here) to Clojure. This leads me onto his Programming Clojure book, which is the best resource I have found so far (but not free). There is also a wikibook available, but it seems incomplete.
  • Planet Clojure is your best reference for new and interesting Clojure posts (they describe themselves as a “meta-blog” of various Clojure hackers and contributors).

Hope this helps someone!