Find a functional programmer for your Javascript team

Written below are some opinions and rationalizations for them. I have come to these opinions by interviewing and working with people for years. However strongly I feel about them, they can still be wrong. If you have feedback for these, please do contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter. All kind of feedback is very much appreciated.

From “Functional programmer” I mean a programmer familiar with concepts of functional programming.

A good teammate is someone:

  1. Who takes care of themselves. They invest in themselves. They care about their software as a craft, as something more than just cramming a whole bunch of frameworks and libraries.
  2. Who take care of their teammates.
    • They help their teammates grow, by mentoring and/or by serving as an example
    • They are empathetic towards other developers. This is most visible in kind of code a person writes. An empathetic developer writes code for other people.
      • They give preference to readability of code over micro-optimizations that make them feel clever
      • They write modular code with independent modules each of which do one thing well. And are easily composed to build more complex functionality.
      • They write clean, predictable and intuitive APIs

FP is steadily gaining popularity, but it is still not popular enough to breach the talent pool I get to interview from. Familiarity with FP is a very good indication that the person invest in themselves. And they do that in a manner which goes beyond just increasing the number of “frameworks” they have built a Todo App in.

Developer empathy is surprisingly rare. In almost a decade of writing code, I have met so few developers who really give a fuck that someone else will also read their abomination. Most software is written in vacuum. Familiarity with FP don’t fix that magically.

However there is another factor at play here. Ironically, as a side-effect of FP, code written in a functional manner is often a lot more readable than its imperative and OOP equivalents (Impromptu quiz: What’s so ironic about this statement?). Not only is functional code itself naturally declarative, an FP person is more likely to wtf when they see unreadable code in PR reviews.

Basic principles of FP also make for great advice for inexperienced developers. Good software architecture is hard to learn, it is a lot harder to teach. You need a mind capable of holding large amounts of complex code before the fancy design patterns even start making sense. In comparison, “pure functions + composition” and you are good to go. That is it. That is all you need to know to get started with writing modular, testable, simple code; which is easy to write and easier to maintain. As a mere side effect of avoiding side effects, you write naturally SOLID (in spirit) code.

FP is not a silver bullet, but looking for functional programmers skew the universe in your favor a little. You are a lot more likely to get good people among functional programmers.