Sunday, May 11, 2008

Scala: A conversation starter

Yesterday was the first Scala lift off conference, and I found myself in the middle of conversations I would have never expected. The most unexpected conversation of all—during an encounter between Bayesian probabilists and category theorists—had more to do with quantum mechanics than it had to do with Scala. It was nonetheless representative of a wider phenomenon: Scala has drawn the attention of many very different people.

At the conference yesterday there were early Java adopters with a hunch that Scala might be the next "Big Thing". There were dynamic language programmers who found their web applications difficult to scale. There were enterprise Java folks who require the tried-and-true rock-solid stability of the JVM and the Java platform, but find the Java language increasingly stale. There were academic researchers who would rather be using Haskell but need to work with legacy Java code. There were startup people looking for a "secret weapon". There were visionaries dreaming of out-of-the-box "planet-scale" web applications.

Scala can't (and won't) be all things to all people. But Scala is sufficiently interesting that is has caught the attention of very different people from very different backgrounds and with very different priorities. It has succeeded in bringing these people together and gotten them to start conversations. Hopefully these conversations will outlive the conference in which they were born. Hopefully they will grow to include even those who couldn't be here. I can't begin to predict where these conversations will lead, but I can tell you that I'm excited... very excited.

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