Learn ClojureScript (25 Part Series)
In this chapter:
- How using a compiled language helps in application development
Features defining each level of abstraction
When we work at a higher level, a couple of interesting things happen. First, it takes less code to accomplish a given task, which helps with both initial development and debugging/maintenance. Second, it causes the structure of the code more closely resemble the problem domain, making it clearer for us to understand when we come back to it. Third, it frees us to think more about the problems of the domain rather than technical implementation issues. All of these factors can enable huge productivity boosts, both in the initial development and maintenance phases of an application.
When we write less code to accomplish a given task, there are a couple of benefits. First, it almost goes without saying that it is quicker to write a little code than it is to a lot of code. Even though more time is usually spent designing and planning code than actually writing it, we do not want to be hampered by how many keystrokes it takes to turn our ideas into code. Second, fewer lines of code means fewer bugs. The developer who would rather spend her time fixing bugs than writing new features is either a rarity or nonexistent. The terseness of a high-level language like ClojureScript means that there are fewer places for bugs to hide, an in turn, we can spend more time making forward progress.
The problem of needing to pull in third party libraries for most tasks is uniquely problematic for the browser because every additional library adds time to the page load. Compound this issue with the fact that most web apps at least need to consider mobile clients with slow networks. When every byte counts, as it does on the web, we are continually faced with the question of whether to include another library for limited utility or write the functions that we need from scratch.
In ClojureScript, however, the situation is reversed. All of the default data structures are immutable, and we have to go out of our way to work with mutable objects. This is one area where ClojureScript is very opinionated, but the style of programming that it promotes is one that will lead to fewer bugs and - as we have already seen - optimized user interfaces. Once we have become accustomed to using ClojureScript's data structures, returning to mutable objects and arrays will feel unusual - even dangerous.
ClojureScript on the Desktop
The developers of the LightTable editor - one of the most popular editors supporting the Clojure language - opted to build their UI using ClojureScript and deploy inside Electron. This enabled them to build an incredibly flexible, customizable UI without the complexity of a traditional desktop UI.
- What is the most common platform for ClojureScript - web, desktop, mobile, or IoT devices? Can it be used outside this platform?
- Why client-side web development is a great fit for ClojureScript.