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It is said that spoken languages shape thoughts by their inclusion and exclusion of concepts, and by structuring them in different ways. Similarly, programming languages shape solutions by making some tasks easier and others less aesthetic. Using F# instead of C# reshapes software projects in ways that prefer certain development styles and outcomes, changing what is possible and how it is achieved.

F# is a functional language from Microsoft's research division. While once relegated to the land of impractical academia, the principles espoused by functional programming are beginning to garner mainstream appeal.

As its name implies, functions are first-class citizens in functional programming. Blocks of code can be stored in variables, passed to other functions, and infinitely composed into higher-order functions, encouraging cleaner abstractions and easier testing. While it has long been possible to store and pass code, F#'s clean syntax for higher-order functions encourages them as a solution to any problem seeking an abstraction.

F# also encourages immutability. Instead of maintaining state in variables, functional programming with F# models programs as a series of functions converting inputs to outputs. While this introduces complications for those used to imperative styles, the benefits of immutability mesh well with many current developments best practices.

For instance, if functions are pure, handling only immutable data and exhibiting no side effects, then testing is vastly simplified. It is very easy to test that a specific block of code always returns the same value given the same inputs, and by modeling code as a series of immutable functions, it becomes possible to gain a deep and highly precise set of guarantees that software will behave exactly as written.

Further, if execution flow is exclusively a matter of routing function inputs to outputs, then concurrency is vastly simplified. By shifting away from mutable state to immutable functions, the need for locks and semaphores is vastly reduced if not entirely eliminated, and multi-processor development is almost effortless in many cases.

Type inference is another powerful feature of many functional languages. It is often unnecessary to specify argument and return types, since any modern compiler can infer them automatically. F# brings this feature to most areas of the language, making F# feel less like a statically-typed language and more like Ruby or Python. F# also eliminates noise like braces, explicit returns, and other bits of ceremony that make languages feel cumbersome.

Functional programming with F# makes it possible to write concise, easily testable code that is simpler to parallelize and reason about. However, strict functional styles often require imperative developers to learn new ways of thinking that are not as intuitive. Fortunately, F# makes it possible to incrementally change habits over time. Thanks to its hybrid object-oriented and functional nature, and its clean interoperability with the .net platform, F# developers can gradually shift to a more functional mindset while still using the algorithms and libraries with which they are most familiar.

 

Related F# Resources:

F# Programming Essentials Training

 

I suspect that many of you are familiar with the term "hard coding a value" whereby the age of an individual or their location is written into the condition (or action) of a business rule (in this case) as shown below:

if customer.age > 21 and customer.city == 'denver'

then ...

Such coding practices are perfectly expectable provided that the conditional values, age and city, never change. They become entirely unacceptable if a need for different values could be anticipated. A classic example of where this practice occurred that caused considerable heartache in the IT industry was the Y2K issue where dates were updated using only the last 2 digits of a four digit number because the first 2 digits were hard-coded to 19 i.e. 1998, 1999. All was well provided that the date did not advance to a time beyond the 1900’s since no one could be certain of what would happen when the millennia arrived (2000). A considerably amount of work (albeit boring) and money, approximately $200 billion, went into revising systems by way of software rewrites and computer chip replacements in order to thwart any detrimental outcomes. It is obvious how a simple change or an assumption can have sweeping consequences.

You may wonder what Y2K has to do with Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS). Well, what if we considered rules themselves to be hard-coded. If we were to write 100s of rules in Java, .NET or whatever language that only worked for a given scenario or assumption, would that not constitute hard-coded logic? By hard-coded, we obviously mean compiled. For example, if a credit card company has a variety of bonus campaigns, each with their own unique list of rules that may change within a week’s time, what would be the most effective way of writing software to deal with these responsibilities?

Facebook was originally intended as a way for people to stay in touch with friends and family members by sharing pictures and status updates on their timeline. As the website's popularity has grown, so has criticism that it is becoming one giant, online high school.

Online Bullying

There has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of online bullying cases due to the introduction of social media. Bullying isn't just limited to younger Facebook users, either. Many adult users have also resorted to bashing others online through nasty status updates and cruel comments.

Prior to social media, bullying in high school involved "kick me" signs and toilet swirling. Facebook and other social media outlets have allowed users to take bullying to a whole other level. Victims can no longer escape bullying by leaving school or work. The torture continues online, at anytime and anyplace.

Status "Likes"

In high school, everyone wants to be part of the popular crowd; people who are outgoing, beautiful, and seem like they have everything.  Posting a status update is similar to wanting to be popular. Once an update is posted, many users wait with bated breath to see how many friends will "like" their status. They believe that the more "likes" they receive, the more popular they are.

If that isn’t enough, there are many Facebook games that involve "liking" someone's status. Games like "Truth Is", where someone likes a status update and in return the poster writes how they really feel about the friend on their Facebook wall. This can get touchy, especially if the two people aren't friends outside of Facebook. It's similar to high school where someone desperately wants another person to like them, but when they find out how that person really feels they are crushed.

Relationships Are Difficult to Keep Private

When someone signs up for Facebook they’re asked to complete their profile, which includes a relationship section. Users can select from different options including "single", "married", "widowed", and "divorced". Whenever someone changes their relationship status, the update shows up on each of their friend's news feeds.

It's easy to see how this feature correlates with high school where everyone talks about who is dating who or which couple broke up. It used to be that after graduation, people were able to keep their relationships more to themselves. Not so anymore in the age of social media. Now everyone has the ability to state their opinion on a friend's relationship status, either by "liking" their status change or by commenting on it.

Facebook has presented many benefits to its users, including the ability to rekindle old high school friendships. What one must understand when they sign up for the service is that they are opening themselves up to the same criticism and drama that takes place in a high school setting.

Proceed with caution!

To add to a python dictionary is very easy.  First create a dictionary, and then associate a key with a value.

 

a = {'cat',"furry thing"}
a['dog']="typically likes to run and is very loyal"
print a

Here is what is printed:

{'cat':'furry thing', 'dog':'typically likes to run and is very loyal'} 

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A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

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