(take 5 anthony-grimes)

Posted by on Jun 15, 2012

It seems appropriate in this, my last installment in the (take...) interview series, to go back to the beginning and catch up with one of my early interviewees. Close to two years ago I interviewed a high-school Clojurian by the name of Anthony Grimes -- my favorite of the series. I wanted to catch up with Anthony again to see what life held for him since graduation, and possibly to get a glimpse into what the future holds.

What have you been working on since I last interviewed you?

Oh wow. Lots of stuff!

One significant project is https://www.refheap.com. It's a pastebin site written in Clojure. It uses the wonderful Pygments syntax highlighter for generating syntax highlighted code and aims to be on par with the feature offering of Gist while not using git for storing pastes and sporting a (hopefully) slightly more pleasant interface. There is still a ways to go, of course. We want to support Markdown (among other markup languages) rendering, revisions, diffs of revisions, etc. There is plenty to do and issues for almost all of it, so if anybody reading this is feeling frisky and opensourcy, take a look at them.

To go with refheap, I wrote https://github.com/Raynes/refheap.el for pasting from Emacs, https://github.com/Raynes/refheap.vim for pasting from Vim (uses Ruby), and a little Ruby gem for pasting from the command line: https://github.com/Raynes/refh. And, of course, API client libraries for refheap in Ruby and Clojure with more to come.

Of my projects, I admire refheap in particular because it can attract a wide variety of contributors. For example, William Manire has been contributing significantly to the Javascript portion of the site. As a side effect, he has been teaching me Javascript!

Some other stuff...

There is also Tentacles, my Github API client lib. Lots of people seem to like it. At least one person (hi Phil!) uses it so he doesn't have to use Github's upload file interface.

Also, Conch, a little library for shelling it. It is useful because, while clojure.java.shell is a very useful and well-written library, it (purposely) covers up all of the Java process API. Sometimes you don't want that though, and Conch exists for those times.

Finally, I've been trying to help out with Noir as much as possible. Mostly just reviewing and pulling pull requests and keeping a steady stream of beta releases going. Chris is really busy these days, so he needs all the help he can get with non-Light Table projects.

I think that's enough horn tooting. Check out my Github page if I'm just so irresistible that you must see all my projects.

How is the book coming?

Slowly. I've had a lot on my plate at work and haven't had a lot of time to work on it, unfortunately. I hope to be able to pick things up soon.

Can you explain Flatland for the uninitiated?

It's pretty simple. I work at Geni and a lot of our code is open source. We just adore modularity and we very often recognize patterns and split things out into standalone libraries. Flatland is our open source home. Things like Jiraph, our graph database, Useful, our utility library, and protobuf, our Google Protobuf library and accompanying lein plugin, among other things, are put there. You might note that lazybot, clojail, and irclj are all there as well. We decided to put those there because 1) we use them in our company IRC channels and 2) Alan Malloy and I both work on them and maintain so it makes sense for us both to have administrator access to the projects.

tl;dr: It's Geni's open source Github organization.

What was going through your mind when presenting to ~300 people at the Conj?

It's hard to recall. At first, it was something between "Just do it. Breath. Now talk. Clear your throat. Breath. Talk." and absolutely nothing at all. I actually anticipated being unable to talk and put lots of notes in my slides so that when I got nervous during the talk I could mostly just read them and avoid having to think.

About 5 minutes in it was all fine though. Once everybody had laughed or chuckled at something I said, my hair slicked back and I grew sunglasses and knew I would be okay.

My favorite two moments of the entire conference (not taking away from the talks at all, this is entirely personal) was how, after my talk, Rich told me I was great in person and said I was awesome on twitter. Easily comparable to teenage girls getting a Justin Bieber autograph. Would totally do it again.

Will we see you at the next Conj?

With bells on. I might even submit a talk again. I'd do it under one condition: at some point in my talk, Michael Fogus must come to the stage with a top hat and cane and dance for precisely 45 seconds.


It's been a wild ride trying to track down interesting Clojure programmers over the past two years, but all good things must come to and end. From the beginning of the (take...) series I've tried to highlight all types of programmers. While it's definitely been wonderful talking to luminaries such as Rich Hickey, William Byrd, Daniel Spiewak and Martin Odersky, I've always tried to highlight the people using Clojure at work or during their free time to create, teach and inform. Undoubtably the computing industry as a whole would be much the poorer without the likes of Hickey and Odersky, but it's community that has allowed them to make a sustained impact. One of Clojure's greatest strengths is its community, and I feel an overwhelming joy to know that its members include amazing people like David Edgar Liebke, Phil Hagelberg, David Nolen, Brenton Ashworth, George Jahad, Justin Balthrop, Carin Meier, Ambrose Bonnaire-Sergeant, Sam Aaron, Arnoldo Jose Muller-Molina, Kevin Lynagh, Baishampayan Ghose, Colin Jones and Jim Crossley. Thanks to them, and all of the other brilliant Clojurians whom I was not fortunate enough to interview, for making the Clojure community one of the language's most awesome innovations.

I'm off to practice my dance steps.


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