Skip to content

Blog’sploring: Kean Walmsley’s Through the Interface

December 22, 2011
by

My parametric model of the Palazzetto dello Sport in Rome, from the "What Would Nervi Do?" project

Meeting Kean Walmsley at Autodesk University last month was certainly serendipitous. I was visiting with Scott McFarlane of Woolpert in Autodesk’s booth on the show floor. Scott had presented an excellent workshop the previous day on C# best practices and I’d wanted to learn more about his experiences in the Autodesk Developer Network. ADN is Autodesk’s fee-based program which provides licenses and API support to third party developers. (BTW, Scott recommended the support network as invaluable, a must have.)

In the course of the conversation with Scott I brought up one of my pet projects: programming in F#.  F# is a nice little functional programming language developed by Microsoft and fully supported in their Visual Studio 2010 IDE (Integrated Development Environment – developer geek speak  for a fancy editing and debugging environment used in writing programs.)

Functional programming languages have long been of interest in the academic community for their purity of structure. They support a particularly clean programming style which is a good match with my recursive thinking, so I have always enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to work with them. Furthermore, these languages are highly suited to multithreading, a key to taking advantage of capacity available in both modern desktops and cloud computing. Indeed, Robert Aish of Autodesk Research is developing the functional programming language DesignScript specifically for parametric programming. It is currently available in AutoCAD and is being propagated to additional tools in their design suite. (For a nice introduction to F# and functional programming by Microsoft check here.)

Plugins for Autodesk and Rhino both target the C# language and VS2010. Since libraries compiled from any of the supported languages in that environment are supposedly interchangeable, I wondered aloud, “Was anyone using F#?”  Scott pointed across the booth and said, “Well, Kean there has been working with F#, I think he has posted some things about it on his blog.”

Which brings me to my serendipitous meeting with Kean and later exploration of his blog, Through the Interface. Kean manages the technical arm of ADN. He blogs about his activities and travels, as well as providing a wealth of tips and information about software development in the Autodesk environment, including using F#.

All in all, I’m happy to say that the templates and information available on Kean’s blog have brought functional programming back onto my developer radar screen and to the top of my “stuff to experiment with” list.

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. December 23, 2011 2:55 pm

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks! It was a pleasure to meet you. 🙂

    Incidentally, as of Feb 1st I’ll be working in a new role, as software architect on the AutoCAD team. Which means I expect to be working more closely with Robert Aish on DesignScript, among other projects (we shall see).

    Hopefully see you at next year’s AU,

    Kean

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: