Learn F# at TechMesh and SkillsMetter
Autumn is a busy period and I already invited you to a couple of interesting events, but there are two more events that you definitely should not miss. In only two weeks, you can come to two-day Progressive F# Tutorials packed with tutorials for both F# beginners and experts. At the beginning of December, the TechMesh Conference comes with three days of talks about alternative (and future) technologies.
I'll be speaking at both Progressive F# Tutorials and TechMesh and I'm also doing a tutorial at TechMesh, so if you want to learn about F#, type providers in F# 3.0 and financial computing with F#, here are some talks that you should not miss...
F# Courses and Talks for Autumn 2012 (I.)
Similarly to the last year, I already have a number of F# events planned for the end of the summer and autumn that I'd like to invite you to!
The Visual Studio 2012 has been completed recently and it comes with F# 3.0. For me, this means two things. Firstly, it is the second Visual Studio version of F#, which means that functional programming is worth taking seriously. Secondly, F# 3.0 comes with type providers, which is a killer feature for working with data. No matter if you're a C# programmer now to functional programming or if you're an F# user in the real-world, I hope you can find some interesting and useful event below!
The two main things that I'm going to be involved in are SkilsMatter trainings in London and New York and a few events at the biggest functional conference (ICFP) in Copenhagen...
F# in Academia: Present at upcoming events!
The F# language was born as a combination of the pragmatic and real-world .NET platform and functional programming, which had a long tradition in academia. Many useful ideas or libraries in F# (like asynchronous workflows and first-class events) are inspored by research in functional programming (namely, the work on monads, continuations and functional reactive programming).
Exchanging the ideas between the research community and the real-world is one of the areas where F# excels. Indeed, the first applicatiosn of F# inside Microsoft (in the Machine Learning group at Cambridge) were all about this - combining research in machine learning with a language that can be easily used in practice.
What, why, when, where and how? Continue reading!
Asynchronous client/server in F# (QCon 2012)
Last week, I gave a talk on asynchronous programming in F# at London QCon 2012. The talk was a part of The Rise of Scala & Functional Programming track organized by Charles Humble. Reactive and asynchronous programming was a topic that was repeated a couple of times during the whole session - Sadek Drobi talked about non-blocking reactive web framework Play2 and Damien Katz talked about Erlang and CouchDB.
F# courses and talks (Winter 2012 and beyond...)
A couple of months ago, I posted a list of my F# talks and courses for Autumn 2011. Although I tried hard to have fewer speaking engagements during the winter and spring, there are quite a few events that I'd like to invite you to.
Last year, I spent quite a lot of time talking about asynchronous programming and agents. I think this is still a very important topic and especially agent-based programming in F# is a powerful way to implement concurrency primitives (like blocking queue), as well as complex systems (like trading screens and market analysis). I also wrote a series of articles on this topic that are available on MSDN and should be a good starting point.
Continue reading to see the list of planned talks, tutorials and courses....
F# courses and talks (Autumn 2011)
The end of the summer holiday season is getting closer. Luckily, I was in Prague last week so I actually noticed there was summer this year!
After a few quiet months, the autumn is going to be quite busy. Microsoft's //build/ conference will reveal the future of software development for Windows, but great things are going on in the F# world too. Don Syme is going to talk about F# Information Rich Programming at Progressive F# Tutorials in November, which should reveal more about F# 3.0 and type providers!
I have quite a few speaking engagements planned already, so if you want to learn about functional programming in .NET (and become a better C# programmer) or about F# and asynchronous programming, here are a few events that you may be interested in...
Accessing loosely structured data from F# and C# (GOTO 2011)
About two weeks ago, I gave a talk at GOTO Conference in Copenhagen at a very interesting .NET session organized by Mark Seemann. In my talk, I focused on the impedance mismatch between the data structures that are used in programming languages (such as classes in C# or records and discriminated unions in F#) and the data structures that we need to access (such as database, XML files and REST services).
Clearly, both of the sides have some structure (otherwise, it wouldn't be possible to write any code against them!). Even an XML file that is returned by a REST service has some structure - although the only way to find out about the structure may be to call the service and then look at the result. In this article, I'll briefly summarize the ideas that I presented in the talk. Here are links to the slides as well as the source code from the talk:
- You can browse the slides at SlideShare or you can download them from GitHub in the PPT format.
- The source code is in my GitHub repository and can be downloaded as a single ZIP file.
MonoDevelop & Teaching F# & QCon tutorial
Point of sale application from QCon tutorial
It appears that I have been doing a lot more talking than writing in the last two months. I'm hoping to change this direction and I have two articles almost ready, so stay tuned! I was also posting all my interesting F# snippets to fssnip.net, which has grown quite a bit since I announced it in the last blog post. Thanks to everybody who submitted their snippets already and I'm looking forward to more! By the way, you can now run snippets using tryfs.net by clicking at "Load in TryF#" button.
In the meantime, the queue with talk materials that I wanted to post on my blog has grown to 3. I talked about F# in MonoDevelop in the Mono room at FOSDEM in February, then I did an online talk for the Community for F# . Finally, this week, I did a tutorial on F# with Phil Trelford at QCon in London (to fill in for Michael Stal due to unexpected health reasons).
Before I move on to writing about my recent experiments with LINQ, you can find materials from all of the recent talks below...
F# in Education & Concurrency with Agents
November was quite a busy month for me. First, I traveled to Cambridge (the "new one" in Massachusetts :-)) to present my work on the F# plugin for MonoDevelop at the F# in Education workshop. Shortly after getting back to London, I started working on a presentation about Concurrent Programming with Agents at the F#unctional Londoners meeting.
Now that both of the events are over, I'd like to write a short summary and also finally publish my slides and demos. In addition, both of the events were recorded (thanks to External Research group at MSR and SkillsMatter), so if you missed them, you can watch the recording...
Both of the events were really great and I had a chance to meet quite a few interesting people. One of the things that make F# great is the community around it. I think that one unique aspect of the F# community is its diversity. The same language is appealing to high school teachers, academics and researchers as well as software developers and technical directors from the industry. This combination is really valuable for both sides. It helps to transfer ideas from research to practice it gives researchers clear picture of problems in the industry that deserve their attention.
Concurrent programming with F# agents in London
If you live anywhere near London and are interested in F#, then you probably already follow the F#unctional Londoners group started by Carolyn Miller and Phil Trelford. I gave a talk at the user group in June about Reactive programming in F# (if you missed that, you can view the recording). I really enjoyed talking to an audience where most of the people already played with F#, so when I met with Phil recently, I couldn't resist offering another presentation.
My next talk will be about Concurrent programming with Agents using the
MailboxProcessor type. A part of the talk will be inspired by my recent
blog series about parallel programming, but
I just finished another pretty cool example, so you should come even if you read my blog!
This time, we'll have two talks, so you can also look forward to Phil Trelford's Behaviour
Driven Development with TickSpec (you just cannot miss his debugging demo!).
When, what & where?
- See also: Concurrency with Agents and BDD with TickSpec at F#unctional Londoners
- Date & time: 24 November (Wednesday), 7:00 PM
- Location: The Skills Matter eXchange, 116-120 Goswell Road, London
Last time, I brought a copy of my Real-World Functional Programming as a giveaway and I think I still have a few copies lying around...
Talk teaser: F# agents
F# agents (the
MailboxProcessor type) are an implementation of message passing concurrency.
This is a very attractive alternative to shared memory or even standard task-based or data-parallel
concurrency models. It makes it easy to write reactive applications that receive inputs from
various sources in parallel (e.g. user interface, network, background tasks etc.) Agents
communicate by sending (immutable) messages to each other, which makes the application
easy to understand. If you design the application correctly (and structure it using enough agents)
it can be also very scalable. Among other things, I'll show the following examples:
- Agent-based chat - A simple example to introduce agents will be
a chat room that uses agent to store the state of a chat. You'll see that an asynchronous
and concurrent application can be written quite easily with F#. You'll also see how to
expose this service using a few lines of beautiful F# code inspired by
- Reusable agents, buffering and blocking - We'll also look at a few agents that are not directly bound to any application and you can use them to implement common communication patterns. If you have a few agents like this, you can easily put together a sophisticated application just by composing existing agents.
F# in MonoDevelop and cross-platform web sites & screencasts
About a week ago, I attended the F# in Education workshop in Boston. It was a great event with many interesting people around. I believe that the workshop was very exciting for everyone who is interested in F#, but uses Mac or Linux. The F# team recently made some effort to improve the F# support on Mono (meaning mainly Mac and Linux). The recent November 2010 CTP update contains several bugfixes that make it possible to use F# on Mono 2.8. Another great thing that happened at the workshop is the open source release of F# (see also blog post by Miguel with a post-check-in photo). At the workshop, I also announced my contribution to the cross-platform F# story, a project that I've been working on recently - the F# language binding for MonoDevelop.
I promised to make it available as soon as possible after the workshop. As usually, things take longer, than one would like, but I'm finally ready to announce the initial (beta) version of the plugin. The screenshot on the right shows some of the features of the F# language binding. As you can see, there is an F# Interactive tool window, syntax highlighting as well as IntelliSense auto-completion.
If you're interested in trying it out, here are links to the repository (you can use it to install the language binding from the MonoDevelop Add-ins manager) and source code. The F# plugin needs to be able to locate F# installation and it also requires more F# assemblies to be installed in the GAC, so you may as well want to read the instructions before trying it :-).
- Project homepage at the Functional Variations web site has more information about the project as well as detailed installation instructions.
- I also created a web page that contains information about installing F# on Mac and Linux which explains how to install F#, such that the MonoDevelop plugin can find it.
- The source code is available in the F# cross-platform packages and samples project at CodePlex
(under the Apache 2.0 license). You can find it in the
- Online repositiory with a MonoDevelop package is available at: http://functional-variations.net/addin.
(If you're a hacker, the easiest way to get it working is to add
FSharp.Compiler*to GAC and set
FSHARP_COMPILER_BINenvironment variable to F# installation location)
If you want to see some interesting uses of the F# MonoDevelop plugin, you can also watch
talk at the F# in Education event. In one demo, I used F# on Mac to play with a simple, composable
functional 3D library. In another example I demonstrated how to asynchronously process stock
prices on Linux. The last demo, showing my
match! extension didn't work all that well, because
I had too many virtual machines running, but I'll blog about
match! again sooner or later!
In addition to the F# plugin for MonoDevelop itself, I'd also like to mention two web sites that I've been working on and some interesting cross-platform F# screencasts...
Recording and samples from my Reactive F# talk
Almost a week ago, I posted an invitation to my F# talk at the F#unctional Londoners user group. The theme of my talk was reactive programming, which was also a topic of my Master's thesis (defended earlier in June), so I really enjoyed talking about it. In the talk, I discussed the two approaches that you can use for developing reactive applications in F# (using examples in Silverlight):
- Declarative (or data-flow oriented) allows you to describe "what" should be
done with data that your component receives from various events (such as mouse position etc.) This can
be written using F# event combinators such as
- Imperative (or control-flow oriented) - in this style, we describe various
states of the component (e.g. semaphore with green, orange and red) and describe transitions between the
states. This can be written using F# asynchronous workflows and the
AwaitObservableprimitive (which you can get as part of the source code).
Thanks to the folks from SkillsMatter who provided place for the meetup and helped with the organization, the talk was also recorded and is already available online! Below, you can also get all the nice Silverlight demos that I used during the talk...
Thanks again to Carolyn Miller and Phil Trelford for organizing the talk and also to Don Syme for taking me to the airport in the early morning (at 4 AM...) after the talk.
Links & Resources
- Reactive Programming in F# (recording) - Skills Matter
- Slides from the talk (PDF, PPTX formats)
- Reactive F# demos in Silverlight (includes
F# presentation at Czech .NET Group meeting
On 2nd of November I did a presentation on F# and functional programming at the Czech .NET User Group meeting. Because I spent quite a lot of time with puting the presentation together I wanted to make it available to wider audience, so I translated the slides and examples to English (anyway, translating the content took me only a few minutes :-)). In case that some of the readers prefer Czech version, I attached the original documents too.
In the presentation I tried to introduce some basic concepts of functional programming (immutable values, lazy evaluation) to the audience with no experience with functional programming, as well as present some of the most interesting features of F# (like strict type system based on type inference, .NET interoperability and metaprogramming). The whole contents of the presentation is following:
- Functional programming in F# - Introduction to the F# type system
- Some useful functional idioms - How to do Foldl/Map/Filter functions and Lazy evaluation in C#
- Interactive scripting - What is important for scripting, mathematical simulation
- Interoperability between F# and other .NET languages - How to use .NET libraries from F# and F# libraries from ohter .NET languages
- F# as a language for ASP.NET - How to use F# as a language for ASP.NET development
- Meta-programming in F# - Meta-programming features in F# and the FLINQ project
Slides and demos from F# presentation
This semester I attended Advanced .NET Seminar that was led by Tomas Matousek [^] who is one of the authors of Phalanger project [^] (Which is an amazing project by the way. It takes PHP source code and compiles it without any modification to .NET). Seminar was mostly focused on Rotor and .NET internals, so if you want to learn more about these topics you can look at Advanced .NET programming [^] slides (by Tomas Matousek).
I did one presentation at this seminar too. It was about the F# language developed at Microsoft Research. It was just a quick overview of F# features, because F# is very rich topic, so it coveres only the language (functional vs. imperative behavior), F# type system, compilation of F# constructs to .NET and interoperability with .NET (for example how to create windows forms application in F#). At the end, I also mentioned F# meta-programming that allows you to look at F# code as data.
- The F# language (67kB) - presentation slides in PDF
- F# Samples (54kB) - zipped VS 2005 solution with samples