Clojure Is Close To His Heart!

Credit: Clojure Conj Twitter

Credit: Clojure Conj Twitter

The original conference for Clojure, Clojure/Conj! is the event to attend for developers from all around the world.

The conference is an annual event for like-minded individuals to gather and exchange knowledge of the Clojure language.

Our Head of Digital Technology, Francois, was among the group of developers that had gathered in this year’s conference held in Austin, Texas from 1 December to 3 December 2016. We caught up with him to find out what were some of the key takeaways from the conference:


Hey Francois, how was your experience going to the Clojure Conference in Texas?

Hey! The way to Austin,Texas is a long trip from Singapore. However, I would not hesitate a second to fly back and forth again if there was another Conj next week. The Clojure community is really awesome, a very much diverse crew sharing the grin of partners-in-crime. I got the opportunity to spend some time around coffee and code (and BBQ and Rock ‘n’ Roll) with living legends like Bruce Hauman (figwheel, devcards, …), Christophe Grand (enlive, xforms, …), David Nolen (ClojureScript, Om, …) and many more. These guys practically changed the way we write programs for good and forever, for me it’s like having a jam with the B52s or Gary Numan!


What were some of your key takeaways from the conference?

I’m afraid to sound pompous, but the truth is: my confidence got reinforced knowing that we are doing the right thing, here at PALO IT Singapore. That is not a given, as you can build working software in many different ways. I seem to have a strong prejudice in this matter, particularly because of my Clojure culture. I have been given the opportunity to submit these opinions and their outcomes to experts in the domain, who are always keen for constructive criticism. Their bid: building an app within 2 months, 2 weeks, or even 2 days, is not a small feat! I would like to emphasise to our teams that what they have done in the past year is plainly awesome and has been sincerely acclaimed by several of the most prominent programmers on the planet.

What I bring back from Austin is the community’s encouragement to persevere in delivering the way we do, and a real opportunity for PALO IT to pave the way for rapid application development. Who knows, we can be at the Conj next year with a seminal talk since there’s a tremendous interest from the community for our practices.

Building an app within 2 months, 2 weeks, or even 2 days, is not a small feat!

Were there any workshop / talk that resonated with you?

They were all very good, so I’ll pick the easy one. You cannot come out of a Rich Hickey talk the same person you were as before. He excels at being angry, with sound reasons (like in reasoning), and at proposing pragmatic solutions with so much ease, and always with humour. “Semantic Versioning is broken!”. Again, he is showing us how wrong we are doing things, this time dependency management, and how simple it is to “stop doing the wrong thing”. Of course, simple is not easy, and he’s been tackling the problem of change management in software even before he wrote Clojure, his solutions are as practical as his rants are solid. A must see, available on the youtube Clojure channel.


Credit: ClojureTV 

Four years ago at the Conj, Stuart Sierra asked William Byrd if he thought that one day programmes could be able to… write programs. Guess what… we are now entering the Synthetic Programming era! After 4 years of academic, collective research, he presented us Barliman, a somewhat ugly (says himself) but deadly impressive application. Give it a couple of test cases, and your program is written! Still a work in progress that can fail on “reverse” without a little human help, I saw it generate a theorem prover on its own! Anyway it is not aimed at replacing us, but rather as an interactive companion for the modern programmer. Short story, William showed a real interest on my proposition to build a Saas version of Barliman, since it would enable thousands of threads where he only has eight today. Any takers?

All talks I attended were very much enlightening, I could go on until no byte was left… All of them are on Youtube, I’d advise anyone serious about programming and related culture to see them all. Also, I had the chance to do full day workshops on Datomic (the immutable database) and Spec with their makers. Not only are they outstanding programmers, they have a real gift for explaining and teaching too (Stu, Alex, Marshall, … thank you!).


What do you think of the Clojure Community in Singapore? Do you see it being a popular language in the future?

 I think that I should definitely take the time to reach out to the Singapore Clojurians! I’ve had so much to do this year with our projects and building the team here that I missed all of their Meetups, but I will definitely find ways to join or make them come. I know we have some of the best Clojure developers here in Singapore, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be as cool as the ones I have met in Austin, Paris or Barcelona. It is an awesome community, again. Clojure is an extremely popular language, soon to be 10 years old, in use at major high tech companies. It makes both programmers and clients happy… once they try it! So it is only a matter of wanting to try new things, and Singapore being such an innovative place, the future is now!

I know we have some of the best Clojure developers here in Singapore, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be as cool as the ones I have met in Austin, Paris or Barcelona.

Any last words for young and future developers who are interested in Clojure?

 It is very hard to not sound dogmatic when speaking about a language, even more about a LISP, and become definitely proselytising when speaking about Clojure. Whatever the language you already know (or don’t), learning Clojure is cheap and extremely rewarding. Don’t believe in “learn XYZ in 3 days”. Except if it is Clojure, or even easier, ClojureScript. Contact Palo IT if you’re interested to learn Clojure, as we will be planning some courses. With parens, programming becomes fun again, ask our team!


In 3 words, describe Clojure.

Not Simple. Effective!

Deeshraf Elias

If he is not sitting in front of the computer watching Youtube videos, Deeshraf can be found out and about in search of the best food and coffee haunts in Singapore. People, travel and food are the driving forces in his life and being a dog person, he is excited to welcome a new pug in his life. LinkedIn:



  1. A great summary of the Conj. Eventhough I don’t have the luxury to attend it, I have gone through the recordings. Francois has succintly summarize the Conj. Looking forward to go deeper into Clojure in 2017.

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