Major corporations endorse Scala with the launch of the Scala Center

Major corporations endorse Scala with the launch of the Scala Center

The Scala Center, a new not-for-profit foundation was launched today in conjunction with the École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The EPFL is a leading research institute specializing in physical sciences and engineering located in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was also the birthplace of the Scala language by Martin Odersky in 2000.

The goal of the Scala Center is to educate and support programmers who use Scala in an open source context by increasing libraries, tools, and educational efforts within the community. In addition, Odersky claims that the Center will act as an institution that will steer the development of open source and the decisions regarding what will make it into the next version of Scala and where contributors should concentrate their work.

According to Odersky, Scala started as “an experiment to find out if object-oriented programming (OOP), the industry standard, could be combined well with functional programming (FP) which had been pioneered in academia for quite some while before already.”

The answer was, in short, yes.

Since it’s inception, Scala has enjoyed steady growth with an estimated 500,000 users including both digital and traditional enterprises like Twitter, Angie’s List, and The Huffington Post adopting Scala for both small-scale projects and larger-scale implementation.

With the burgeoning popularity of Scala, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Goldman-Sachs, Verizon, IBM, and Nitro jumping on board as founding partners of the Center, as their extensive use of Scala to handle big data processing is widely known.

Joining Goldman-Sachs and the other founding partners, is Lightbend (formally Typesafe), the company behind the Reactive Platform. Co-founded by Odersky, Lightbend aims to ensure the continuity of core contributors to the language. Mark Brewer, Lightbend’s CEO, explains, “Lightbend employs half of the top-ten Scala contributors and will continue to drive Scala’s design and implementation in collaboration with the Scala Center.”

The Scala Center plans to fund initiatives and sponsor updates to the open source Scala libraries as well as offer four massive open online courses (MOOCs) through Coursera, a big proponent of Scala. Odersky will lead classes in Functional Program Design in Scala and Functional Programming in Scala. Coursera will also add additional classes such as Parallel Programming and Big Data Analysis in Scala and Spark. Coursera has been a champion of Scala for years; their primary service-oriented architecture is written in Scala utilizing the Play framework, and they openly endorse it as the core language taught through their courses.

The Scala Center will be spearheaded by Heather Miller and Jon Pretty, both well-noted and respected contributors in the Scala community. Miller was a Ph.D. student with Professor Odersky at the Programming Methods Laboratory (LAMP) while Pretty organizes Scala.World, a conference based in the United Kingdom, and is the creator of Rapture, a group of open source Scala libraries, to handle common programming tasks.

So what does this mean for the balance of the Scala ecosystem?

The news of the Center’s involvement with big name corporations fueled a bit of speculation within the Scala community. Some expressed the fear that individual contributions will be pushed out, while others had a positive outlook, suggesting it could mean the language progress and process could end up being community driven. Everyone should rest easy knowing that existing open source projects and platforms will continue to function as normal; the Center’s first mission is to consult with the user community and define common goals and initiatives.

The hope is that the Center will prove to be beneficial for the entire ecosystem, as a valuable resource to further education and advance contributions to this pragmatic approach to web development.

With their focus on producing new libraries and tool sets, expanding documentation, and fostering educational growth, we can expect to see new blood injected into the ecosystem, something the community desperately needs if we can gauge by the sheer volume of available job postings. We can also speculate, that the financial investments and public endorsements of the Scala language from major corporations such as Verizon, will lead to an increased pool of work for dedicated Scala engineers as more companies look to adopt the technology.

There has been a notable increase of requests by companies looking for help implementing Scala, and related platforms like Spark, Akka, and Play framework, and with a dedicated initiative to expand the language, Scala could very well be headed for world domination.

Independent consultancies such as 47 Degrees, and members of the open source community are deeply committed to the Scala language, its associated tool sets, and seeing how we can expand the use of this scalable language. The Scala Center is asking for the community’s help by way of the Scala Center gitter channel and is requesting those who have the time or funding to contribute to jump on board.

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