Insights from a great conference
I recently had the chance to attend Scala Days in Copenhagen, probably the largest Scala conference as of today, and I had such an amazing experience!
Most of the people involved in the Scala community were there and it’s been really fun to match (nick)names with faces and have interesting conversations.
Also, I was delighted to find many interesting talks, both technical and non-technical. Here’s a short-list of my favorite picks:
Tools for Code Verification, Synthesis, and Repair by Viktor Kuncak, EPFL
This was the Thursday keynote and, while the content was highly technical, I found it extremely inspirational. It’s exciting to see how Scala can be used beyond its original purpose: in this case, for writing formal verifications that can be automatically proven. The work by Viktor Kuncak and his team is something incredible. The project is called Stainless and you can check it out here: https://github.com/epfl-lara/stainless
The full talk is available here:
Adventures in Metaprogramming: Macros versus Shapeless by Dave Gurnell
Dave does an amazing job at making complicated things look easy, and this talk is no exception. The somewhat messy topic of when to use macros versus when to reach for shapeless is well explained through apt examples. It’s a focused, self-contained talk that provides a lot of insights directly applicable to my job, so I really enjoyed it.
Forget what you think you know — redefining functional programming for Scala by Kelley Robinson
Kelley’s talk tackles the complicated subject of “too much jargon” in functional programming. It does an excellent job at explaining what is the essence of FP (expressions and data structures) and clearly separating it from all the concepts that come from category theory (monads and friends). While I’m not 100% in agreement with all the points made, I enjoyed very much the way this topic was brought on the table. Making FP approachable and easy to learn is a compelling subject we should all care about.
The closing panel
The closing panel, moderated by Jon Pretty, was the cherry on top of a great conference. I liked the diversity of people represented in there (open-source contributors, Scala professionals, the Scala Center, Lightbend) that sparked interesting discussions about the present and the future of Scala. The role of the Typelevel compiler, Dotty, and Scalafix were some of the subjects brought up. It was an opportunity for the audience to make direct questions to the panelists, but also the opposite, with many improvised surveys (“How many of you consider themselves library authors?” — way more hands than I expected raised).
Here’s the recording of the panel, which I encourage you to watch: