Clojure: A Chat with Andrew Boekhoff

In this brief interview, Satish Talim of RubyLearning talks to Andrew Boekhoff, author of CongoMongo, a toolkit for using MongoDB with Clojure.

Satish>> Welcome Andrew and thanks for taking out time to share your thoughts. What programming languages have you used seriously?

Andrew>> Seriously: Ruby and Clojure. Less Seriously: C, C++, Java and now: Haskell, Scheme.

Satish>> Why and when did you decide to start working on Clojure?

Andrew>> I’ve been using Clojure for a little over a year. I had read Paul Graham’s essays, so I wanted to try a lisp dialect. I also wanted to learn what functional programming was all about. Then I watched Rich Hickey’s presentations on Clojure and by that point I was pretty much sold.

Satish>> Could you name three features of Clojure that you like the most, as compared to other languages? Why?


  1. Immutability: Using immutable locals and data structures as the default eliminates a huge class of potential errors. I’ve never written as much code that worked on the first try in any other language. Concurrency is often mentioned as a great benefit from pervasive immutability — and it certainly is — but for me, the net reduction in complexity is what I love most.
  2. It’s a Lisp: It has Macros: Whether its for shearing off boiler plate, or embedding a parser for an internal DSL, the ability to easily extend the syntax of the language is a uniquely expressive trait of the lisp family.
  3. The immense practicality of the JVM: By being hosted on the JVM, Clojure comes with batteries-included and can be deployed anywhere that Java can (almost anywhere).

Satish>> You have written a Clojure wrapper (congomongo) for the mongo-db java api. Can you tell us more about this wrapper? Also, why did you target MongoDB?

Andrew>> I really like working with MongoDB. The combination of schema-less document storage and ad-hoc queries is fantastic. The JSON format fits Clojure’s data structures well, and the mongo-java-driver is high quality and maintained. Congomongo is fairly light-weight — its main goal is to make interacting with the database from Clojure convenient and idiomatic.

Thank you Andrew. In case you have any queries and/or questions, kindly post your questions here (as comments to this blog post) and Andrew would be glad to answer.

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