Functional Coding in Java - Gateway Drug or End of Line

18 April 2017

In this guest post, Tom Prior reviews a talk given by Garth at a recent event in Cork. The talk, entitled 'Functional Programming in Java - Gatway Drug or End of Line' was also recorded for posterity, and is available below. Thank you Tom for letting us sponsor and speak at the event.

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Garth Gilmour down to Cork from Belfast for our recent meetup - a joint event between Cork Functional Programmers and The Cork Java User Group.

I met Garth up in Belfast at Kats Conf last year where we were both giving talks. Garth gave a great talk that day around best practices for using the functional programming features of Java 8. He is a really engaging and entertaining speaker and has a great way of explaining concepts in a very pragmatic way.

After that conference, I was thrilled to receive a message from Garth offering to come down to Cork to give a talk/workshop in the new year. So, once 2017 came around, I got in contact with Garth and the rest, as they say, is history.

There was great anticipation for this event given the thought-provoking and somewhat controversial topic: Is Java 8 a gateway drug into functional programming or does it have enough functional programming features to satisfy the masses and spell an end to other languages like Scala and Clojure?

Close to 30 attendees from both meetup groups where present on the night. It was also the first time that we tried out a new meetup venue in Cork called Republic of Work. Garth was already chatting with the early arrivals when I arrived which created a relaxed atmosphere for the night from the offset.

Once we had everyone there, Garth got into his talk and brought us on a journey to contrast and compare Java 8 and Scala. It was wonderful food for thought for seeing the contexts in which each language excels. At the same time it was a great introduction into functional programming in both languages for people new to functional programming or just new to either language.

Throughout the talk, Garth presented many examples and also some coding challenges for us to work on. This was a perfect segway into the second part of the evening where we all chatted over beer and pizza and hacked away on the coding challenges. The feedback after the night was all very positive.

Everyone seemed to get something out of the delivery. Beginners to Functional Programming saw how to perform common data transformations like map and reduce whilst more experienced programmers saw the pain points and advantages of different functional languages.

Garth is planning a return visit in september to go deeper into functional programming concepts in Scala which I'm sure will be another highly educational and entertaining night.

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Tom Prior