You work for me, Computer.

By Brandon Bloom

ClojureScript Projects

I stumbled across Clojure a few times, but I’ve fallen in love with it sometime over the past year. I’ve always loved the idea of Lisp, but I never loved any particular Lisp until Clojure.

The name “CLoJure” comes from C#, Lisp, and Java. The best parts of each of community clearly shine through. Bolstered by the Java community, Clojure combines all the expressiveness of a Lisp in a package that makes everything seem as easy as C#. That last point deserves elaboration: C# has managed to empower the average code monkey with lambdas, closures, generics, expression trees, and futures. Similarly, Clojure empowers the average senior developer with immutability, macros, flexible dispatch, software transactional memory, interactive development, and a whole lot more! Plus, it’s free and open source! Rich Hickey has an incredible talent for distilling good ideas down into understandable bite sized chunks, making agreeable tradeoffs, and then deftly guiding the community.

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of my spare cycles working on ClojureScript. Hacking on the ClojureScript compiler and runtime has been more fun than I can ever recall in my programming career. It’s an incredible toolkit that I intend to utilize heavily in my next startup, so I feel like my hours and hours of fiddling with cljs.core is extremely worthwhile. I’ve already contributed 20+ patches!

As fun as hacking on ClojureScript is, it’s probably a better idea to hack on something that uses ClojureScript, rather than ClojureScript itself. Paul Graham described Hacker News as an application to sharpen Arc on. Paul is right in saying that you need the top down pressure of a real application to motivate the design and implementation of the language from the bottom up. Although where his goal is brevity, Rich’s goal is simplicity. While Paul has seemingly effortlessly scaled Hacker News to a 1M+ daily pageview community, Rich has seemingly effortlessly reinvented the database.

ClojureScript hasn’t found its killer application yet. There is a lot of interest around the project, but only a handful of active contributors and production users. People like Chris Granger are pushing down on the top with ambitious applications like Light Table, but we need others. Chris is starting to make re-inventing the IDE look effortless, but his application prefers to be installed outside the browser, generally on Macs, so it isn’t clear to me if his vision remains squarely in the HTML/CSS/JavaScript-targeting, client/server sweet spot.

It has been over seven years since Gmail and Google Maps has made us re-think what is possible in the browser. I sense that ClojureScript holds the key to the next generation of re-thinking what’s possible in client-side applications. As I ponder my next startup, I’m going to be on the lookout for just such an application. In the meantime, I’ll be open sourcing some of the technology I’m building as I explore that path.