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On the future of Play Framework

Jonas Bonér Founder, CTO and Chairman of the Board, Lightbend, Inc.

TL;DR - We are working to form a community-led organization that would take responsibility for the future development of Play Framework outside of Lightbend.

Ever since I started Lightbend (formerly known as Typesafe) with Martin Odersky, now more than 10 years ago, Open Source Software (OSS) has been at the heart of what we do. It is fair to say that Lightbend would not exist without the transforming power of OSS and the amazing communities around our products Scala, Akka, Play, and more.

Building software in the open, putting your work out there for everyone to see and judge can be scary, at least initially, but can also be so rewarding. OSS is the perfect environment to try out crazy ideas, to try to reach a bit higher, and to be able to do it with peers that share the same passion and joy for programming, curiosity, creativity, and urge for change, regardless of background, gender, citizenship, ethnicity, political values, or whatever. When it works it’s magic. I am personally so grateful for OSS and what it has enabled me to do, learn, and experience, and the long-lasting friendships it has helped me build.

Lightbend started around a vision to build the best possible OSS development platform and tools for the emerging Cloud (multicore and distributed systems), specifically targeting microservices, web applications, and streaming data systems. On this quest, which started with Akka and Scala, we added the Play Web Framework, which—being built on top of Akka with a strong async and non-blocking story—was a great and natural addition to the stack.

Play quickly grew to become one of the most loved and used web frameworks for full-stack applications in Java and Scala, with a large and passionate developer community. It has played a key role in bringing the Reactive Principles to web development and has pushed the envelope for web frameworks when it comes to the overall developer experience. Over the years Play has played an important role in Lightbend’s overall strategy as a core part of the Akka Platform (formerly known as Lightbend Reactive Platform) and is very much loved by our customers allowing them to build full-stack applications in a Reactive way, from top to bottom.

However, as a majority of our customers and the industry at large have moved to the Cloud, we have steered our focus more and more towards our core competency, our DNA, the reason why we started this company: building the best developer platform and experience for distributed systems, the Cloud, and the emerging Edge ecosystem. That means primarily focusing on Akka Open Source, and our new PaaS-platform Akka Serverless, a product that enables the values of Akka—low-latency and high-throughput real-time data, paired with incredibly high levels of scalability, reliability, and availability—to any developer, packaged up a serverless, simple, and to a large extent declarative developer experience, regardless of the language they want to program in.

All this means that we as a company are still as passionate about OSS as ever, but will not be able to be the stewards and main developers of the Play project anymore. This does not mean that Play is dead and that you should migrate off it. Play is rock-solid and used by hundreds of thousands of Java and Scala developers every month. Play is still extremely relevant to today’s application and web development and has a passionate and very capable community around it ensuring that it has many good years left.

We at Lightbend have simply finished writing our chapter in the story and are now trusting the following chapters to the community and power of OSS. If you love Play and care about its future then step in and help out. It is, as I said, both extremely rewarding and fun.

Together with contributors in the Play community, we intend to form a community-led organization that would take responsibility for the future development of Play outside of Lightbend. This will only be possible if we gather Sponsors that are willing to donate money on a monthly basis, and Contributors that can put work into the Play codebase and the administration of the project. We’ll most likely form a Steering Committee for Play where Sponsors and Contributors can collaborate to form Play’s future.

If you as an individual, or your employer as a company, are willing to contribute to this journey, please reach out to us at

Tell us how you want to be part of it.

Play needs you.


The Total Economic Impact™
Of Lightbend Akka

  • 139% ROI
  • 50% to 75% faster time-to-market
  • 20x increase in developer throughput
  • <6 months Akka pays for itself