I have been watching Java developers become Scala curious for a while now. I am not sure when I first became aware of Scala exactly – I think it was RedMonk’s JVM and dynamic language unconference at JavaOne in 2007, when I first met David Pollak, creator of the LIFT framework for the language. Scala is elegant, allows for a lot to be done with a minimum of code – in developer parlance its a hybrid object/functional language.
Perhaps most interestingly Scala runs on the JVM – which means it can be used with all the Java libraries (and optimisations) that a Java developer already knows. Like I say the position initially is often Scala curious. Scala is designed for concurrency though, as opposed to kick off another thread programming models. Other functional programming languages often mentioned in the same breath include Haskell and Erlang, along Clojure, which is another JVM language.
Now its one thing for a guy at a conference to run his mouth off about how Twitter could be better if it was built in Scala. Its quite another for Twitter to actually rebuild in Scala. Over time other high scale shops have also taken to Scala- notably Foursquare. Then there were my pals from the SAP hacker community, who when they were looking for a framework for their ESME messaging platform (intended to bring activity stream like models to business applications, about three years before SAP or Salesforce started taking such an approach to the mainsteam) also went with Scala.
So Scala is seeing some real world adoption- notably also in the UK financial services and online gambling sectors (actually that’s really one sector, casino capital and all that).
So anyway the point of this post is that a new startup called Typesafe just launched to commercialise Scala. Founded by Martin Odersky, creator of the language, and Jonas Boner, the creator of AKKA, a Scala framework designed for scale and resiliency, its a good seed. They are not a client yes, but I made an exception and gave them a press quote:
“We’re entering a polyglot era in software development, driven by cloud and multicore systems architectures, as new languages emerge to challenge, and coexist with, the long hegemony of Java and .NET,” said James Governor, analyst at RedMonk. “Typesafe is a commercial business aiming to catalyze momentum around Scala, one of the languages building real grassroots interest and adoption at sites such as Twitter and The Guardian.”
The coming together of language and framework is particularly interesting because our research clearly shows that frameworks drag new programming languages into the mainstream.
Typesafe has James Gosling and Doug Lea on the board, and is funded by Greylock Partners… and VMware founders Diane Green and Mendel Rosenblum.
Why should you care? Well- if you’re a software developer your hourly rates will get a notable bump if you can talk Java+functional experience. But just from a general interest point of view, it will pay to look at functional languages. From an enterprise perspective the new multicore systems the software architectures you’ve relied on for the last 20 years were not designed to take advantage of the multicore architectures hardware vendors are putting forward. IT isn’t getting any easier, and scale demands are increasing exponentially. Therefore – its time to start seeing other languages.
We’re moving into a world of event-based programming, concurrency and messaging.