My (very!) short review of Racket in 2020

Around this time one year ago, Racketfest 2020 was just starting to get organized. In the international press, we were seeing the first indications that a strange new virus was affecting China and causing significant chaos. Thankfully, Racketfest 2020 was able to go forward. It was held in Berlin right before the early spring corona restrictions went into effect in Germany.

In times of stress, perhaps you’re like me and have become more reflective and find yourself turning to things that matter most. Things that speak to your own values, ambitions, and personal intellectual style. For me, that meant that I’ve often come back to Racket a number of times throughout the year. Privately, usually. I like to stay in touch about Racket through this mailing list, in the Racket Slack, and by email with a number of friends throughout the Racket world. But I often couldn’t bring myself to do that. I was often in radio silence, too bound up in stress and, I think, the sheer novelty of the situation. I admire—and appreciate—all those who’ve kept their heads above water and helped keep the Racket train rolling. Thank you.

There have been three Racket releases after the February, 2020 one, before things started going off the rails. Racket CS (Chez Scheme) continues to improve, and even supports AArch64 (which is on the fantastic M1 chip from Apple—I’ll be getting one of those soon to replace my Pinebook Pro). A new YouTube series by Joel Dueck on Matthew Butterick’s Pollen is rolling. More and more Racket packages are being produced, and the language keeps getting better.

My personal favorite is the love that the Racket web server got this year thanks to Bogdan Popa and Philip McGrath: it’s more secure and much faster (changes introduced in Racket 7.6 and Racket 7.8).

RacketCon 2020 took place a couple of months ago (online, of course). It was an oasis of joy. Ben Greenman even announced a forthcoming improvement to Typed Racket that I’ve long wished for, a change that promises to make TR even more useful (and faster). In a world of Zoom calls and Google Hangouts (which I don’t particularly enjoy), the chance to hang out with many of you in Gather was fantastic. I didn’t know about Gather at that time, and am considering using it for Racketfest 2021 (plans for that are still developing).

Despite the stress of the lockdown(s) and qualified reopenings, I managed to make an updated, more richly detailed edition of Language-oriented Programming in Racket: A Cultural Anthropology. I’m surprised I got it done; looking back, there must have been a window of time when I was able to relax and concentrate long enough on that. (I want those kinds of moments back again!)

I’ve even heard rumors that a Racket podcast may be in the works…

Now that the end-of-year holidays have arrived, I’m looking forward to a Racket-filled 2021. I wish you the best in your Racket work, whatever form that takes. Here’s to a saner and healthier 2021!

To celebrate (the end of!) 2020, I’m having a sale on all of my Racket books & courses: