For the past few months, I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall. The problem was that I was trying to get an all-server-side wiki built using Clojure. It actually works pretty well. I’ve been using it for personal information for months now. It works well except for one aspect, arguably the most important – editing new or existing content is not that pleasant. It’s all a variation of Markdown, which is nice.
The other day, I was putting together a sequence of operations to transform one piece of text into another form of that same text. The functions took a text argument, and the result was a slightly tweaked version. Put all those functions together to get the fully transformed result. What could be more natural than to string those pieces of code together with one of Clojure’s threading macros: ‘->’ or ‘->>.
The Elm language is often cited as an up-and-comer for web front end development. I was attracted to it largely because of the compiler’s friendly and extremely helpful error messages. It’s really attractive in many ways. But when I started looking at examples, I often found myself thinking things like “Why is this so inconsistent?” or “Why is this syntax so complicated?”. And it finally occurred to me that I’ve been ruined by the way Clojure/ClojureScript/Lisp/Scheme do things.
Just like everyone else, it seems, I’ve been following all of the news about voice-activated personal assistants. There are all the commercial offerings like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and so on, as well as some DIY projects on the web, like this one and this one and this one.
These types of projects typically involve a front end that converts voice to text, some middle piece that interprets the text and obtains some answer or creates an action, ending up with a voice response by the system back to the user. I have some (out-of-date) experience with speech to text, but not the other end of the process: text to speech. So here’s a little investigation into how to do it with ClojureScript. Turns out that it is almost trivial these days.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with ClojureScript. On the one hand, it is a Lisp, with all the power it entails. On the other, the development toolchain can be byzantine. With the advent of WebAssembly and ECMAScript6, I have hopes of seeing tail call optimization (allowing true recursion) handled in ClojureScript, if not Clojure itself. And Reagent and figwheel can make web development (not my strong suite) much easier.