Frameworks

The Key of F#: 3 Questions with F# Creator Don Syme

Why was F# invented? What are its best -- and worst -- uses?

F# is growing in usage, and many developers are anxious to find out what it can do. So I asked Don Syme, the creator of F#, and his team some questions about the language.

Q: Why was F# created? What need does it serve?
Don Syme: When you look at examples across the industry, the common need is for a simple, succinct, efficient and typed language that allows math-oriented and domain experts to work in their problem domain, rather than get lost in a sea of object-oriented and class-oriented code, while still contributing professional software components that interoperate well. That's where F# fits in.

The special thing about F# is that we manage to get most of the benefits of dynamic language (rapid development and succinctness) while also still retaining the benefits of strongly typed languages (robustness, performance and visual tooling), all in the context of a highly interoperable platform.

In what scenarios would F# be a bad solution?
F# is designed as a value-add language to augment what's already there in .NET. This means that you shouldn't see it as a wholesale replacement for C#, Visual Basic and C++. For example, we don't advocate rewriting components just to move them to F#. Likewise, we don't advocate writing line-of-business apps with F#.

What are some of the most requested F# features your team is working on for future versions?
F# tooling in Visual Studio 2010 consists of IntelliSense, quick info, interactive type checking, projects, debugging and F# Interactive. People often ask for additions and improvements to this tooling. In some cases we'll be making the improvements ourselves; for example, in IntelliSense.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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