Philly ETE 2015 #31 – Brendan McAdams – A Skeptic’s Look at scalaz’ “Gateway Drugs”: A Practical Exploration

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Slides from Brendan’s talk are available here.


We’ve all seen them on the corner of our local software development neighborhoods: FP purists, shamelessly peddling scalaz to unsuspecting developers. Lured in by promises of Free Monoids, Semigroups, and Endofunctors these developers soon seem lost in throes of ecstatic coding.

To the skeptical and stubbornly practical among us, the above might ring a little true – especially if read in Rod Serling’s voice. Images of gibbering horrors lurking in the depths of mathematical perfection swim before our eyes.

But what if there is true value in the world of scalaz? What if it is possible to use these tools for good (and a little bit of evil – it’s fun to use learning for evil!) and profit… Without getting hopelessly lost in the opium dens of FP?

In this talk we will look at some of the “gateway drugs” of scalaz: Validation, NonEmptyList, \/, Monad Transformers, and more. How do they work from a practical standpoint? What is their value for real world applications? Can we use them without an advanced Maths PhD? And just how fun is it to *really* code with these tools?

About Brendan:

Having recently returned from several wilderness years of being an itinerant conference speaker, trainer, & consultant for such fine companies as MongoDB & Typesafe, Brendan now writes Scala code for Netflix, building beautiful APIs with Scalatra & Swagger.