Users demand reliability and performance from every application they use. Managers demand, well, manageability from the projects they oversee. Operations demands that programs run smoothly across multiple systems, often in different locations. Programmers rarely have the luxury of focusing exclusively on their own works, and have to be able to go into and out of other people’s code.
Functional programming techniques were created to address all of these issues, but have often been spurned because they just seemed too complicated, and weren’t especially necessary in the days of single programs running on single processors.
The world needs more functional programmers, and the answer isn’t occasional teams of superheroes. Functional programming needs to become a part of the ordinary developer’s toolbox, whether they work in explicitly functional languages or in environments where it might be possible but is often a verbose afterthought.
Popularizing the functional programming story is going to require cultural and even some technical changes, but the rewards should turn up quickly in the quality of our code.
Simon St.Laurent is a Senior Editor at O’Reilly and a web developer. His books include Introducing Erlang, Learning Rails 3, Programming Web Services with XML-RPC, and XML: A Primer.
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