Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    Why I still haven't learned Haskell

    Light at the end of the tunnel
    Light at the end of the tunnel

    Short story: because I'm lazy.

    Long story is a bit more nuanced. It involves everything from how many hours there are in a day, how shiny the distractions are and having enough excuses to learn stuff.

    The right tool for the job

    Possibly the biggest reason why I try out new technologies, get super excited, but then never learn them properly is the Use The Right Tool For The Job mantra I've lived by ever since I stopped being a teenager and became bored of religious wars.

    At the end of the day, the client doesn't really care what technology you use, your users don't care about the technology either. They care about a working product that is maintainable, expandable and gives them a good price/performance ratio.

    Now look at my life:

    • Hey, can you make us a complex business-like website on MySQL? - Sure! -> django
    • Hey, we need a glue layer between a bunch of services! - Awesome! -> node.js
    • Hey, I need a script to munge this data into that data. - Hooray! -> python
    • Hey, can you do X with websites for us? - Yep! Finally something algorithmic, I can use Haskell \o/

    Oh wait ... except I can't use Haskell.

    I'm charging you decent money for this, and I'm not really productive in Haskell yet. I can make some cool things with it, but it takes twice or thrice as long as using tools I'm familiar with. Of course you don't want to spend that kind of money to fund my pet learning subject.

    For no obvious gain of course.

    I could just as easily do it in some other language. Except it would be cheaper to create, easier for you to maintain and I'd spend more time on the problem than battling an unknown tool. But it wouldn't be as cool!

    Yeah ... oh and what's that? The best tool for the job happens to be a library that only works in Java? Great.

    And the vicious cycle just keeps repeating itself.

    Because I never know enough Haskell, Haskell never becomes the right tool for the job. There would have to be a very very good reason that goes beyond "I love Haskell! It is the coolest language since forever!" to make me use Haskell on a paid-for project.


    Right, but I could just learn Haskell in my own time couldn't I? Then I'd know it well enough and suddenly it would be the right tool for the job and everyone would live happily ever after.

    Well, no.

    I've tried that:

    1. Learning me a Haskell
    2. Raining datatypes
    3. A message from your future self
    4. Collatz, Haskell and memoization
    5. This Haskell is wrong, why?
    6. Lychrel numbers

    Certainly not a lack of trying to learn Haskell. And I've learned a lot, don't get me wrong. It is most certainly my favourite language for implementing algorithms.

    But at the same time, I still haven't fully figured out monads and doing IO or anything actually too much useful ... it just doesn't come together.

    I mean, there's so many things to learn. So many things to do. There isn't enough time in the day to work on everything and learn everything that I want and love and find interesting.

    As unfortunate as it may be, Solving The Problem mostly comes higher on my list of priorities than Learn This Cool New Way Of Solving The Problem.

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on June 18th, 2012 in Functional programming, Haskell, Implementations, Java, Languages, Programming, Tools, Uncategorized

    Learned something new?
    Want to become an expert?

    Here's how it works 👇

    Leave your email and I'll send you thoughtfully written emails every week about React, JavaScript, and your career. Lessons learned over 20 years in the industry working with companies ranging from tiny startups to Fortune5 behemoths.

    Join Swizec's Newsletter

    And get thoughtful letters 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join over 14,000 engineers just like you already improving their careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? I don't have all of the answers, but I have some! Hit me up on twitter or book a 30min ama for in-depth help.

    Ready to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own?  Learn how to build scalable dataviz components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, modern backend for the frontend engineer.

    Ready to learn how it all fits together and build a modern webapp from scratch? Learn how to launch a webapp and make your first 💰 on the side with ServerlessReact.Dev

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️