Keynote: Adopting Functional Programming

  • Kresten Krab Thorup CTO of Trifork
September 15, 2012 9:00 - 10:00 AM


I've not been breast-fed functional programming. Rather, I "grew up" with object-oriented programming, and have only recently "converted." As such, what interesting can I say to an audience of functional experts who surely know a lot more about functional programming than I do?

I'm also co-founder and CTO of a software company (Trifork) with now 200+ employees, and consider myself fortunate to still be doing a lot of real programming. As part of our business, I'm deeply engaged in a lot of our conferences, and helping teams adopt new technologies. However, less than 20% of us use functional-ish programming languages (mostly Erlang) on a day-to-day basis. But that number was 0% just two years ago. Already being a relatively large organization, things are surprisingly difficult to change!

So, I'll explain where we (Trifork) come from, what we do, why we started doing Erlang, and how we use it. What does functional programming feel like when you come to it with an "object mindset"? What are the forces that govern technology adoption in our context, and what are the problems that we need to solve better?

Going forward, I think that there is a lot of lessons to be learned from the boom (and to some degree fade) of object technology, in how to make a technology successful, and how to make it available for a broad audience. There are books that need to be written, and tools that need to be built.

At Trifork, we're constantly very much in a process of getting ourselves and our customers comfortable with new technology; functional programming is one of them.