(Dis)functional programmers

Are functional programmers arrogant? Bob Martin tweets his thoughts

JAXenter Editorial Team
VIP image via Shutterstock

Functional programmers are said to be arrogant and elitist. The accusation isn’t new, but still seemingly a long way from being accepted across the board. After Robert C. Martin stirred the pot recently, the debate has once again garnered attention.

The last major Scala-bashing took place less than two years ago. Yet Robert C. Martin, a founder of the Agile Manifesto and the Manifesto for Software Craftsmanship, has fired off a tweet that has suddenly reignited this tried-and-true debate.

Well-known IT guru “Uncle Bob” let this one rip recently:

For a long time, the accusation of pretentious behaviour has been made against programmers of the functional sort. And since its early days, a popular adage has existed in the developer world that beginners are put off by FP’s elitist attitude.

While describing himself as a “noob” compared to Martin, Richard Dalton has been working as a professional developer, author and consultant for almost twenty years, and he will not be letting this renewed incursion stand.

In his blog post reply, Dalton leads the problem to the fact that no one can muster a serious interest to learn the current difficult languages ​​of Haskell and Scala. His own experience had shown him that the barrier to entry was not the rapidly increasing complexity curve in functional programming, but one’s own willingness to engage in new paradigms:

I know this because I was on the receiving end of this generosity from the moment I showed an interest.

Since joining the functional programming crowd, Dalton has said that he’s ignored tweets, comments and blog posts about the arrogance of functional programmers. But a man with a reputation and large following like Bob Martin adding his voice, instead of using his experience and broad knowledge to objectify the debate, was simply incomprehensible.

Bob knows that arrogance and ego has been a feature of virtually every discussion in programming… From how or whether to TDD, to how or whether to automate deployments. From Waterfall to Agile. From Pragmatism to Craftsmanship to Just Ship It. Hell the Javascript community almost imploded into an argument about semi-colons.

From someone who had himself often suffered the accusations of arrogance in his commitment to innovation, Dalton believed Martin “should be better than this”. Now we can look forward to Bob Martin’s response. The answers he’s received to his Tweet will probably not contribute in any case if he suddenly changes his mind.

Although it’s now up to Martin to meet the anger generated in response to this, a shrewd user has already formulated a kind of premature closing remark to the debate, which could serve as a meeting point for all parties:

Dalton has announced another post in which he wants to deal with the generally occurring phenomenon amongst programmers that arrogance is to blame without a specific technical paradigm. He has also announced proposals for solutions. We’ll be keeping an eye on this debate.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mikalai Dunets
Mikalai Dunets
2 years ago

Put yourself in an FP programmer’s shoes. You try to explain how feature X is awesome but everyone bullies you and laughs in your face. After 10 years mainstream language gets inferior analogue of feature X, Uncle Bob (any other idol) highlights it, and voila! very same people talk to you how awesome feature X before they even take a firm grasp of it. It’s easy to become very arrogant that way.