Happy tenth birthday Scala! Whats next?
With Java 8 bringing some Scala-esque features to the JVM, we ponder over the future of the type-safe language.
Scala, which was originally envisaged in 1999 by
Odersky as a language that smoothly married functional with
object-oriented programming, celebrates ten years since its first
implementation this month.
Odersky’s brainchild finally launched on January 20th,
2004. Heralded by Michel
Schinz for introducing “several innovative language
constructs”, the type-safe language has continued to maintain this
out-of-the-box approach as it’s grown up.
One of the the biggest things Scala has been credited
with is introducing more concise and testable methods of
programming, as well as for bringing functional programming to
mainstream JVM languages.
Now, with the release of Java 8 imminent, there’s a
host of Scala features poised to be unleashed on the mainstream
JVM, and it’ll be interesting to see what Scala’s response to this
will be – if any. It can be argued that Scala really precipitated
the inclusion of lambdas in Java 8, as well as default methods for
At heart, it has over the years remained an iterative
language, experimenting with new ideas and deprecating older
functionalities. In the years to come though, we can likely expect
to see something of a slowdown in this continual adoption of new
features. This will be partly driven by an acceleration in user
growth, as well as an arguably natural process as the languages
There are certainly a few big name players who have
helped raise the profile of Scala over the past few years. It’s
perhaps best known for being one of the main programming languages
who like it for its speed, user friendliness, and flexibility,
other things, as well as, of course, Java interoperability.
Other high rolling Scala coders include Linkedin, FourSquare, and
Rod Johnson is a notable convert to Scala, who believes
that, by 2018, it will have
“found its niche” as the leading enterprise language for
demanding applications in need of scalability. Its high degree of
interconnectedness with the Java ecosystem gives it a cachet that
other alternatives simply cannot match, and he also believes that
Java’s lingering presence in the years to come will only benefit
Scala, thanks to the “robust and performant” JVM.
Scala.js in development, it’s also set to make inroads on the
browser. Although far from enterprise project ready, early
responses are apparently very positive, but it’s far too soon to
predict whether the final product will be powerful enough to
convert non-Scala users to the language.
There’s also the Scala
IDE for Eclipse, which continues to come on in leaps and
bounds, which offers support for mixed Scala / Java projects.
Although Scala continues to rank ahead of other JVM
languages (it’s currently standing at 33 in the TIOBE
Software Index, and 12 on the RedMonk
Programming Language Rankings), there’s certainly still enough
cross-pollination going on in the space to guarantee that the user
base will continue to grow. Well, as long as the community follows
advice, and offers a friendly, open attitude to potential
If you’d like to join the Scala party this week, we
this talk by Ted Neward, which provides a splendid
introductory guide for Java developers curious about the
object-oriented and functional language, going “beyond” the syntax
by tackling the challenge of actually learning to think the Scala