For the past year I’ve been working almost entirely in F# and have found the experience to be everything I hoped it to be and better. In just six months I was able to bring a research project to fruition which has since made our company millions of dollars. F#’s terseness made algorithms a joy to implement while F#’s type system made changes easy and regression errors non-existent. In fact, the few bugs we have had were either due to unexpected behavior in the GUI API, or in external C# libraries. Never before have I been so happy with the programming language I use on a daily basis. Never before have I felt so confident that when I make a change new bugs won’t be introduced. And no, we’re not using strict TDD, or any other strict development methodology. Simply leveraging the type system well in addition to algorithmic testing has proven to be extremely robust within F#.
It’s also been a great year for making new friends and meeting interesting people. The NYC F# community is thriving with an average of about fifty people attending any given NYC F# User Group meeting, many of them using F# at work for at least some subset of their projects. I hear the same experiences from many: Yes, learning F# isn’t simple, but the benefits in speed of implementation, LoC reduction, and correctness are huge. The excitement over type providers is also palpable. Finally, we’ll be able to extend our types out into data sources and eliminate new classes of error which currently occur at the border between our data and our applications. If you’re interested in following what we’ve been up to at the NYC F# User Group, check out our Vimeo stream.
In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been surprising that many in the Mono community hadn’t seen much F#. They tend to go to different conferences and events than your standard .NET user and so hadn’t yet heard much about its benefits. I will say though that it was a very bright group and I think many who speak on F# would find them just as receptive as I have. I do hope to see (and participate in) more outreach into the Mono world as I think we will find that there’s quite a few folks who would be happy to embrace a better way to program, if only they were shown the way.