[Haskell-cafe] consulting and contracting

Anton van Straaten anton at appsolutions.com
Tue Dec 15 16:19:53 EST 2009

Tim Newsham wrote:
> I was wondering how many haskell consultants and contractors
> (ie. freelance programmers) there are and how much demand there
> is for their work.  Also what kind of work do most haskell
> consultants and contractors get?  Is it primarily focused
> around developing and maintaining haskell compilers and tools?
> Mostly related to academia?  Spread out around several areas?

I've done three Haskell contracts last year and this year, all in the 
financial industry in the New York area.  Two of them were for the same 
client, developing a couple of modeling systems for products like swaps 
and bonds, and the other was an upgrade of an existing Haskell 
trading-related system.

For the modeling systems, I proposed the use of Haskell, based on a 
combination of its high-level nature, support for parallelism, the 
performance of compiled code, and its use by some other financial firms. 
   Other selling points included its mathematical orientation (since 
tools like Matlab and Mathematica are often used in similar contexts), 
and the availability of tools like QuickCheck.  Not to mention the 
presumably limitless supply of PhDs and other smart people dying to get 
Haskell jobs!

Without that advocacy, this client would have used Java by default.  As 
it was, the first of those two systems was developed in parallel with a 
Java version, and we used the two versions to verify each other's 
results.  For the second system, a Java version wasn't deemed necessary, 
partly because the comparison succeeded in making Haskell's advantages 
sufficiently clear.

My sense is that at the moment, with a few exceptions, anyone wanting to 
do freelance Haskell work would need to advocate its use themselves, or 
use it in situations where the client is more focused on the solution 
than the language used.  Galois provides an example of the latter 
approach, although that's a bit beyond freelance programming.


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