Monthly Archives: September 2009

Duct Typing

Today people were tweeting up an old interview with Al3x Payne and some devs from Twitter about using Scala.

Al3x or anyone else has the right to use for whatever programming language they want. No questions asked…

But today I was reflecting on Al3x’s rationalization of the type system motivating a move to Scala. I mean we’ve heard this before and the whole thing got a lot of Ruby panties in a bundle when it first came out.

But checking for nil and kind_of? all over the place is not Ruby’s failing… that’s a big ball of mud in any language and I’ve seen people resort to the (null != foo) && (foo instanceof Bar)) anti-patterns in Java.

Al3x asserts this is an inherent property of large systems in dynamic languages. I’ll assert it is a property of systems that have grown organically to the point where the programmers can’t reason about what is coming or going. I’ll further argue that you get more out of thinking functionally towards solving this issue than you do from stricter typing.

If you find yourself constantly checking for nil/null or really being concerned with types except around the edges of a system, that’s a code smell IMHO.

But maybe another layer of duct tape will fix it…

totally duct'd

totally duct'd

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Catching a breath…

I’ve had a lot of things I wanted to get out there, but didn’t have the time to sit down and craft it. The result is a bunch of half formed embryonic posts, which will grow to something hopefully very soon. The past few months have been a whirlwind.

Starting with the investment process and our partnership with True Ventures.

Then there was Agile Roots, which was awesome and I’m not just saying that because I help organize it.

Check out some of the Agile Roots videos. (The sound on some presentations is suboptimal because of issues with the venue’s system, but the content is generally good.)

Then Velocity Conference, face meltingly awesome… the best practioners conference for people who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Some of the Velocity videos… my talk didn’t get recorded this time, which I’m sure improved the quality immensely…

Then Structure, similar to Velocity, but for people who wear more buttons and spend less time at the command line.

July was a blurr of phone calls from people wanting to sell Reductive Labs office space and IT management solutions, lunch meetings, podcasts and day trips. Some work got done.

August had more of the same, with more podcasts, Ignite Salt Lake and finally Agile 2009 (where my presentation with Paul Nasrat was recorded by InfoQ)… capped off with a little Reductive Labs love at the Ruby flippin’ Hoedown.

I know I haven’t done any of these events proper justice, but I plan to at least collect some of my thoughts and post my slides, etc. in the next few days.

Did I mention I have two young sons and a wife in medical residency? Don’t try this at home kids…


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