Apache Storm: From Clojure to Java….. some thoughts. #clojure #java #storm

The route to Clojure can be an odd one. For some it just falls straight in to the developer’s way of working (“It’s Lisp, I geddit!”). Others, like me, with our old Java based OOP heads struggled for the penny to drop.

If Java is your main language then the move to Clojure can be difficult, it’s a different way of thinking. If Clojure is your first/main language then doing Java Interop in Clojure is going to melt your head (I’ve seen this a lot, I found it surprising too).

For me the penny dropped when my then boss, Bruce Durling, put it to me like this: “Data goes in to the function, data goes out of the function”. After that everything made sense and if you make functions small, separate and testable then it’s a joy to use.

There’s one issue though that has always been a challenge, not just for Clojure but other languages, mainstream adoption.

It’s better for a developer to have two or three languages in their toolbox, not just one. The reason…. well the Apache Storm project dropped the mic.


“While Storm’s Clojure implementation served it well for many years, it was often cited as a barrier for entry to new contributors.”

Yup get that completely.

Clojure Takes Time….

Clojure takes time to learn and to do well. There’s a group of folk in society that just get confused by too many parentheses, I was one of them. Another thing I’ve found is that adoption route can be made harder by the documentation in projects, too many times I’ve come across things that you were just supposed to know, it just wasn’t helpful.

I suffered huge huge huge imposter syndrome with the Clojure community, they talked in a different language, my mental reaction was “I don’t fit in here”. They spoke about solutions that were just plain confusing. Over the last four years of this blog I’ve done my best to break stuff down and explain it in English to give the next poor sod a chance. I was actually scared of doing my first talk at ClojureX, petrified actually. The audience in the room knew far more than I did.

Finding Clojure developers is pretty much an uphill struggle, it’s a small circle. Finding good ones is harder, though that could be said of Scala and the like too. It’s easier to cross train someone from Java into Clojure but that takes time and most companies are not in a position to wait, there’s work to be done. Recently I was talking to a company who were potentially interested in hiring but the made one thing very clear, “We wouldn’t want you to do anything in Clojure, no one here can support it.”, I totally agree, the bus number is key.

So with something like Apache Storm this does not come as a surprise, Apache projects need adopters and that is a numbers game. Do a project with minority adoption and then there’s a good chance the project will wither and die. Actually I didn’t realise Storm was written in Clojure until I read the announcement.

The Bottom Line is I Love Clojure

Knowing what I know now I find it hard to move away from Clojure. DeskHoppa is 100% Clojure but I know it’ll be developing that for the time being. I’ve realised that it’s a niche especially when it comes to things like Strata Data Conference where I’ve always put things in Java and some Clojure, I’ve had too otherwise my talks get rejected.

I never wanted to learn Haskell…….

2 responses to “Apache Storm: From Clojure to Java….. some thoughts. #clojure #java #storm”

  1. Thanks for the experience report!

    Sorry to hear you suffered an imposter syndrom, I’d love to hear suggestions on how we can prevent that.

    Just one little thing disturbs me:

    > They spoke about solutions that were just plain confusing.

    Maybe a little relativism here? Confusion is a subjective feeling, and typical Java parlance can be just as confusing depending on your prior experience IMHO. I don’t know if that was your intention, but I don’t think it’s fair to portray Clojure technical discussions as objectively more confusing than typical Java discussions.

  2. Thanks for you comment Val. Interesting that bit disturbs you, I noticed a difference on certain subjects with Clojure. I appreciate it all depends on the person and I’m certainly not going to single people or subjects on Clojure that could lead that way.

    As for imposter syndrome. It’s mind over matter really, that’s a me thing.

    Onwards and upwards. 🙂

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