Just wanted to put in my two cents as a Clojure beginner, and indicate what worked to hook me into this stuff.
But first, I will say that it was NOT web-frameworks
— sorry about this long self-indulgent background story, but it helps me frame my viewpoint —
In grad school (during the late 90’s), I had been huge on Mathematica and Maple and loved the intimacy of “notebook” programming. Also, I used LabVIEW for years to automate all kinds of instrumentation. Those experiences in grad school stuck with me and informed my tastes about what I want from a programming toolchain/platform. Basically, I CRAVE immediacy and expressiveness: being able to deliver what comes into my mind as a computer program.
Paradoxically, through a series of career accidents, I ended up working as a servlet/EJB programmer back in the day when web development was a giant dumpster fire. Over time, I came to the bitter realization that the type of computing I loved in grad school was long gone and it looked like my work was just going to consist of suffering through one turgid, over-engineered framework after another. I eventually left that stuff for other domains.
Although my day-job since leaving the j2ee world wasn’t “software engineering”, I still make programming a major part of my work. I work as a manufacturing test engineer responsible for automating hardware tests and performing failure analysis. I use C# for “doing stuff” and R for analyzing/visualizing data. To some extent, I was able to regain some of that feeling of “agency” with computing that I had back in grad school. Especially with R, it felt very notebook-like and once I got past the quirks, it started feeling expressive. C# also became really cool once I grasped Linq for querying collections and the concurrency sugar of async/await.
I first heard about Clojure quite a long time ago (2011-ish?) on a now-defunct podcast called “Java Posse”. My way of keeping tabs with the java world was by listening to Java Posse. Anyways, they frequently talked about exotic new technologies, mostly Scala (didn’t like, too baroque) but also Clojure which sounded cool because it was a weird old language, Lisp, on the JVM. I put that on my to-do list and never did anything for years.
Then, I came across the videos of the 2013 Clojure Conj, I had remembered hearing about Clojure on Java Posse, and it was a good time to take a deep-dive in the middle of the night while surfing youtube. There was one talk in particular that REALLY spoke to me: Tim Ewald - Clojure: Programming with Hand Tools. THAT talk expressed EXACTLY what I want from a programming language! After that, I started on a path of trying to learn Clojure. I subscribed to Eric Normand’s wonderful video lessons for a while and now I am trying to get some small personal projects off the ground with the initial goal of using Clojure at work for some of my projects.
I think if you want to make Clojure last in the long term and not become a historical footnote (like some previous #1 TIOBE “winners” are rapidly heading towards), it is vital to make it appealing to a broad base of practitioners. That means not just web-programmers, but also data analysts, scientists, computational folks, instrumentation, graphics people, and others who work with specialized domains that can use the power and simplicity of the language: games, music, AI, whatever.
I think it is headed in the right direction. OK, yes, error messages need work, but it seems to me like the community and clojure adoption is moving forward.