Overcoming functional programming objections

Solving objections to switching to functional javascript.

Recently I have delivered a presentation Journey from procedural to reactive with stops at several conferences. One question I received after a presentation I have not answered very well.

What part of the journey caused the most objections from the new developers?

I have answered this question from my own perspective

I had trouble abandoning the returned values, especially as we switched to promises. Other people had difficulty there as well.

This answer is true for me, but the question can be answered much better in my opinion, now that I had time to think about it. The true question I want to answer is

How can you overcome any potential objection to the functional way of javascript programming in your team?

I think the above question is a lot more important one, than figuring out a specific problem spot along the journey.

Overcoming any objection during the javascript journey

As we become better programmers and move from procedural to reactive programming in javascript, we encounter objections from other developers. A lot of objections can be put into this category:

I am smart, I have experience; I have endured 5-6 hours of interviews just to get hired; I know what I am doing.

Here is our solution to this problem: instead of giving a new employee a book on functional javascript, and telling him / her to read it, we have a book club for all interested current employees. Everyone who wants to learn or refresh the advanced javascript techniques is welcome to read a chapter from "JavaScript Allonge" or some other book every week and meet to discuss it. This solves two problems at onces:

  • A new employee does not feel like a noob trying to catch up
  • Current employees can fill knowledge gaps without feeling like an impostor.

I know that every time I read this wonderful book (or any other advanced javascript book), I discover something new! Plus we refresh and reinforce the current employees' knowledge, and bring everyone onto the same page.

No matter where you start, going through a training together helps the team's cohesiveness and spirit.

Update 1

The original author of the question Tomek Borek has expanded on this blog post, read How do you get folks to come to book-reading meeting?.