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Try F# - Learn, Create and Explore

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Microsoft has launched a new dedicated site for learning F# language. Try F# is divided into three major sections - Learn, Create and Explore.

The learn section examines the fundamentals, advanced techniques, data visualization, charting, scientific, numerical and financial computing in addition to topics related to data science.

The create section is mainly oriented for those programmers who are already well versed with F#. It enables you to build F# programs and share them with the community.

The explore section provides additional resources such as links to books, tutorials, video presentations and podcasts. Towards the end, Microsoft has provided links to various community sites which has extensively covered F#.

In an exclusive interview to InfoQ, Kenji Takeda, Solutions Architect and Technical Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA explains the story behind the creation of Try F#.

InfoQ: How easy it is to learn F# for beginners?

F# is very intuitive for beginners, especially those who come from backgrounds in science, engineering and mathematics. School kids love it - we’ve even heard of a 4-year old writing F# programs for fun! It’s certainly comparable to other languages being used to teach computer programming for first-timers.

InfoQ: Do you think F# is a popular programming language among developers?

F# is an open-source language used in many fields, from finance and insurance to web design and social gaming sites. Developers find it compelling, as it combines the elegance and power of functional programming with the ability to include object-oriented code and enjoy extensive interoperability. Once people get going with F#, it changes how they think about developing their software, and can improve their productivity immensely in other languages too. It’s a great addition to any programmer’s toolbox.

InfoQ: What is the need for launching Try F#?

Try F# site allows visitors to instantly explore the versatile F# programming language in a web browser. It starts people with the basics, then provides real-world examples to solve analytical and information-rich problems. In addition to a plethora of tutorials, Try F# allows users to write their programs in the browser, save them in the cloud, and share them with friends—quickly and easily. This really lowers the barrier to entry for anyone wanting to find out how F# can help them, and play with it themselves.

For more information on Try F#, check out the Microsoft Research Connections blog.

InfoQ: Why Try F# when there are no similar exclusive sites for C#, VB and C++?

With Try F#, we have a goal to reach a targeted audience of students, researchers, and developers interested in data science and analytical programming using innovative approaches, such as type providers and units of measure, that are unique to F#. The lessons learned from these interactions will influence how we think about all our developer sites.

InfoQ: Do you think Try F# will enable developers to learn the language quickly?

We have worked closely with the strong developer community to produce an accessible “learn” experience, now complete with sample materials to get developers started. It allows visitors to learn the language from the bottom-up, or with a more problem-based approach through the tutorials in data science, science and engineering, and financial computing. Try F# now includes “create and share” experiences that help developers write code and share it with others, all without leaving the browser, so the community can continue to grow.

InfoQ: Does Microsoft have any plan to promote Try F# site among students, computer training centres?

Microsoft Research has already partnered with several universities across the world to promote Try F# to faculty and students. For example, University College London and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are already using Try F#.

It gives their students and researcher’s access to the many open data resources on the Internet, gets them up-to-speed quicker with writing complex algorithmic code, and helps them share their results on social networks and the web.

More information about UCL and RPI’s use of Try F# can be found in the 5-min Microsoft Research video.

InfoQ: What do you think about the future of F#?

F# has been successful as it can greatly reduce the time-to-deployment for analytical software components, and has been particularly successful in the finance and insurance industries. With the latest version of F# and its unique type provider information access features, it heralds a new world for unifying how developers access heterogeneous data from inside organisations, and across the internet. It is perfectly suited to the world of data science, big data and cloud computing.

With the language design being led by Microsoft Research, F# is able to bring cutting edge ideas from the research world and put them into the hands of developers worldwide in a staggeringly short amount of time.

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