Matthias Nehlsen

Software, Data and Stuff

Weekly Update: Clojure eXchange, next steps in BirdWatch, Clojure and me

Last week was great. I had just come back from my trip to the United States the week before, where I attended the Conj and got to hang out with dear friends in both Washington DC and New York City. I used to live in DC in 2009 and 2010, and it was really good to be back. Last Friday, I had a talk at Clojure eXchange in London about my BirdWatch application and my journey to Clojure. I think there should be a recording somewhere, but I haven’t checked it out just yet. The day before that, I had parted from Scala with a farewell letter here on this blog. It took me by surprise how much attention this little letter received 1, considering that it was really only between Scala and me.

I am glad that relationship is over. Let me just make it clear that I don’t hate Scala. I built some interesting stuff with it in the past. But it is just not as much fun as Clojure is and that’s extremely important to me. I became a programmer after 10 years of project and operations management in healthcare IT 2, all the while running my own company and managing employees. I did that until it was no longer a challenge. Then I thought, hey, building software myself should be plenty of fun and shouldn’t be all that difficult if done right. But none of the technologies I have worked with so far (C#, Java, JavaScript, Scala) had sparked the excitement that I was looking for. Well, that has definitely changed with Clojure.

I do not have any major new results to report on the BirdWatch front this week as I was mostly busy with other stuff (such as taxes and actual work). But I did change the design and kicked out Bootstrap in favor of Pure CSS, which not only looks good by default but is also tiny in comparison to Bootstrap. Here’s a peek of how the new design looks like:

New Design with Pure CSS

Much better, I find. You can also check out a live version. I had really developed a distaste for the old Bootstrap look over the course of the year. Next I want to replace D3, at least for the bar chart generation. I’d much rather manipulate the SVG in ClojureScript and build the charts myself. Is this going to save me time? Probably not, but this is a toy project, so what does saving time in that context even mean? I am interested in manipulating graphical elements directly from ClojureScript and that’s what matters. I have made good progress so far, but nothing that I’d want to present just yet, maybe next week.

Also, I was able to put some more thought into server-side aggregation. But again, nothing for this week, please check back soon.

Oh, before I forget, I will present at the Clojure Meetup in Hamburg next week on Thursday. Please come and say hi if you’re anywhere near Hamburg.

Cheers, Matthias


  1. Thanks to Hacker News, there were like an extra 30K pageviews on my blog during the first 36 hours after publishing the farewell note. I should publicly part more often, I guess.

  2. Okay, I did write some software myself at that time, but my involvement with software development was was mostly overseeing development done by others.

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