Anna Pawlicka

Programmer. Hiker. Cook. Always looking for interesting problems to solve.

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Spreading parentheses of love

20 Apr 2015 |

Last weekend, with the help of 14 teachers and TAs, we brought the first ClojureBridge workshop to London. 20 students that showed up on a day had a wide range of experience levels from total beginners to experienced programmers in other languages.


It happens on Friday and has a Friday night vibe. All participants must attend so it can be verified they have the appropriate Clojure development environment set up on their laptops for Saturday’s workshop. We had prepared memory sticks with LightTable and git for various operating systems (in case interwebs goes bonkers) and sent set-up instructions to attendees. When the Friday came, we were ready. OSX, Linux, Windows, it didn’t matter – no one left without having a working Clojure environment and a ClojureBridge sticker. When all laptops were ready we could socialise over pizza and drinks.


It takes most of Saturday and it’s a hands-on programming experience. Student – volunteer ratio was 20:14 and some students were lucky enough to get 1:1 help! We started with breakfast.

A short welcome talk was followed by a few demos to spark students interest by showing what can be built with Clojure: composing music with Overtone (by @ctford), front-end programming with ClojureScript (by me), The Game of Life in a browser (@philandstuff showing @thattommyhall‘s demo).

Then we split students into groups of similar level and went through the standard ClojureBridge curriculum. There were two breaks in between hacking before we finished the day with dinner and drinks.

Everyone was very positive, willing to chat, share their experiences. Watching people have a-ha moments is really rewarding. And seeing teachers and TAs explaining programming without falling back on computer science terms was quite impressive. It’s pretty incredible how much people were able to pick up in a day. I know that we had some students in the class that had never written code in their life and it was awesome to see them hacking in just a few hours.

We had ClojureBridge cookies too! (who turned us into goths but shhh)

We asked all students to fill in a post-workshop survey, and so far the results have been very positive:
– 92.31% of students are very likely to recommend the workshop to friend or colleague.
– Students were very happy with the teachers and TAs and found the curriculum well designed.
– LightTable caused sometimes too much friction but it’s hard to find a tool that would perform well under those circumstances.
– We should consider to reduce the length of the workshop (it was 9-5 + dinner/drinks)
– Need to remember to order LESS food for the next workshop!

A big thank you goes again to the fantastic sponsors who made this event happen:

uSwitch, 8Light, Buyapowa, Metosin, Yeller, ThoughtWorks, LispCast and Tom Hall. And to the awesome volunteers!

There is definitely going to be another one ClojureBridge London workshop, very likely organised by one of the recent alumni! :)

Organising ClojureBridge is extremely rewarding – if you’d like to spread your love for Clojure (or programming in general) and promote diversity in your community, click here for more information on how to get involved.

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Travis CI and ClojureScript tests

I have something to confess: I haven’t written any ClojureScript tests until this very morning. There were various reasons for that and often I would copy whatever was possible to Clojure namespace and test it there using clojure.test. So when a new ClojureScript with a port of the clojure.test namespace – cljs.test – was released, I could no longer ignore it.