Once a month, programmers from the D.C. metropoliton area meet in the Ecosystems office on Old Chain Bridge Rd. in McLean, VA to talk about the future of the web: Elm. Elm is a functional reactive programming language created by Evan Czaplicki for his undergraduate thesis at Harvard. Evan’s thesis, titled ‘Elm: Concurrent FRP for Functional GUIs’ laid the foundation for a major shift in the way the web is built. While Elm itself has not been adopted universally (yet!), the concepts it brought to the web are being used in every major Javascript framework / architecture today. That being said, you don’t need to be a web developer to be excited about Elm. The meetup consists of every type of programmer, working on every part of the stack. The range of experience and expertise in the room on a given meetup spans the entire industry.

At a given meetup, members of the group will give lightning talks, either planned or improvised. The lightning talks typically last between five and ten minutes and highlight some part of what the person is working on at the moment. The talks conclude with lessons learned and words from the wise, followed by questions. The group is usually small, so Q & A’s evolve into conversations and (light-hearted) debates.

Amidst the ongoing lightning talks and conversations, pizza arrives. The arrival of the pizza usually indicates a shift in tone from “academic” to “casual.” People begin working on side projects, catch up on work, help each other out with questions (whether Elm related or not) and just sit and chat and get to know each other.

With genuine strong-typing (no run-time errors) and functional one-way data flow (deterministic state management), there is no doubt that Elm has revolutionized the way modern web applications are built and will soon see wider adoption. As the Elm community begins to grow, our comfortable meetup will begin to expand and become more formal. For the time being, however, I believe we have managed to strike a perfect balance between socializing and learning and I hope to bring this culture of friendly knowledge-sharing into the future.

RSVP for the next Elm DC meetup here!