Our partner, VirtusLab, is doing a great deal to spread Scala adoption in Poland and surrounding areas, from providing software solutions that help solve business needs with Typesafe technologies, to launching and supporting ScalaCamp, a cyclic meeting about Scala programming languages and Scala-based projects. Founder Rafa? Pokrywka puts the focus on the business benefits that arise from new technology, and differentiates ScalaCamp from other meetups by zeroing in on innovative and tactical ways companies can use Scala, Akka and Play Framework in the real world.
A big part of increasing Scala adoption is to educate new community members. As such, Rafa? joins forces with organizers of other user groups, like PolishJUG, and JVM-focused events, like this year's geeCON, to provide the software community a chance to hear about Scala from great speakers in Krakow.
Rafa? and his team has created a vibrant and rapidly growing Scala community in Krakow over the past two years, so we were very excited to interview him and ask a few questions about the various projects he's juggling:
Q: How and why did you get involved with Typesafe technologies?
A: I suppose it was in quite a typical way. I simply got fed up with all the boilerplate that we had to develop over and over again in plain old Java stack. It was hurting our development efficiency so anything helpful was highly welcome. The trending proliferation of JVM based languages was already quite strong back then and I had heard a lot of good things about Scala. After a little research and with strong suggestions from my colleague, we decided to give it a try writing a test suite at first – a typical route for an existing project. Then I decided to use Scala for a new project written from scratch. During the development I discovered more and more functional aspects of Scala, and then Akka with its actor model and distribution by configuration. Now we have all of the ongoing projects developed in Scala and I would like to keep it that way. I always look for solutions that help to get the right software done faster, especially when it gives a little fun to the dev team. By saying “right software,” I mean with high quality and meeting requirements including those for performance and scalability. I hate excessive complexity and bloatware that kills productivity - Typesafe platform is different and falls in the category of lean software and that’s why it’s my preferred choice right now.
Q: What are some exciting things that VirtusLab is currently working on?
A: There is a few projects. One of them is interesting web application within financial sector but dedicated to individual users with lots of processing at the backend and great UI for charting based on HTML5/Canvas. The other project is within natural language processing field - it automatically detects user’s problems and questions. Map-Reduce framework with jobs in Scala is used for analysis of text gathered from various sources like social networks and then alert is generated whenever something wrong happens in communication channels. The app allows quick reaction - a crucial thing these days.
One more project I’d like to mention is a tool that helps auto-scale your cloud infrastructure depending on traffic and using different strategies – that’s all what I can reveal right now but it looks promising. Our team is eager to work on new challenging projects and show our Scala expertise.
Apart from working with customers and promoting Scala we constantly work on our development efficiency and praise lean software :)
Q: In the past year, what are the prominent changes you have seen in the JVM communities?
A: Within our local community there was quite an eruption of different kind of activities. Lots of user group focused on particular fields have emerged and gained traction like Krakow Scala User Group and Lamda Launge while others matured like the PolishJUG, Software Craftsmanship Kraków or Kraków GDG, just to name a few.
Groups organize code katas, hackathons or workshops on which we’ve seen more and more Scala! It’s worth mentioning that many of those groups help each other out whenever possible. This deep cooperation is really something unique around here.
Moving out of local scope, Scala is quickly getting more attention recently and more local user groups keep appearing.
Q: At events like GeeCON and ScalaCamp, what have been the hot Scala Topics?
A: Some of the things that drew the most attention were Akka of course and functional programming concepts in Scala in general. We also had talks about DSLs and what can be surprising also Monads and Functors :). Lots has been written and blogged about monads, but understanding those concepts helps to understand functional programming better.
We had requests for Scala and Akka workshops and we are planning to host them in a few weeks.
Thanks to cooperating with the community powered GeeCON conference and the PolishJUG, we’ve been able to get in touch with great speakers from the Scala-space to meet high demand for knowledge - so again collaboration.
Q: What do future plans for ScalaCamp entail? Do you see this expanding to other cities as well?
A: The formula of ScalaCamp seems to work but we would like to make it even more interesting and intensive through more un-conference style and through introducing new ideas, interactions and community engagement. I think we will find out what works best but even before that I would like to invite every other Scala User Group in Poland and outside of Poland to organize ScalaCamps locally in their cities. Just contact us and we will share the details and help in any way we can.