Scala is in its Java 1.3 phase?

Yammer clear up its stance on Scala

Chris Mayer

Coda Hale clarifies his company’s stance and the reasons behind that email.

After the Scala storm in a teacup, enterprise social network pioneers Yammer were hasty to publish a riposte on the whole murky affair, clarifying that their situation in regards to their infrastructure.

Coda Hale elaborated that the email used by some Java committers such as Stephen Colebourne was construed: 

the fact that I described some of our team’s negative experiences with Scala was misrepresented by some as constituting an official Yammer position or announcement. It was not; it was a private email.

He went on to comment on Yammer’s official stance regarding the entire issue, reiterating that what was in the email to Martin Odersky and Donald Fischer was private and not for public consumption, and that Scala was indeed still in their plans.

This is Yammer’s official position on the subject: our goal at Yammer is to revolutionize the way modern workers collaborate and we’ll use whatever tools will allow us to iterate faster on that goal. If Scala is that tool, we’ll use Scala; if Java is that tool, we’ll use Java; if INTERCAL is that tool, we’ll use INTERCAL. (We don’t expect to have to use INTERCAL; don’t worry.)

Scala is currently the main language for our high-performance backend services and in the past two years we’ve solved a number of hard problems using it. We built a real-time message delivery service which has scaled to hundreds of thousands of concurrent users.

Some may consider this a backtracking from the previously seen material, but what that leaked email did provide was constructive criticism for Scala to improve in the future. Yammer is indeed moving some of its infrastructure to Java but Typesafe asked why this was the case and what they could to remedy the problems. Hale adds:

Scala is a relatively young language, especially given Martin’s broad vision of cutting-edge concepts used in a practical, pragmatic, industrial programming language. Of course it has rough edges. Of course it has flaws. It’s roughly where Java 1.3 was in Java’s history.

It was precisely those rough edges and my experiences with them that Donald was asking about. He saw an opportunity to get feedback on Scala’s rough edges, and I saw an opportunity to get the rough edges we’d found sanded down.

Hale went on to say that he’d converse with other language creators in a similar manner, giving them honest feedback whether it was Java, Ruby or so on. The discourse is surely a good thing, but with the tribalistic nature of both communities running rampant, preying for anything to pick up on, it can often lead to distortion. Perhaps the leaked email’s length and detail at deconstructing Scala played into the media and naysayers’ hands.

So what does this entire situation show us?

No language is perfect as everyone knows. People may have an opinion regarding those languages, such as Scala within its infancy – as long as they have some knowledge of what its purpose is, and can weigh up the pros and cons of that language thus justifying their views. In this case, you could argue that didn’t happen.

Only through analysing and critiquing the flaws can any language truly advance and get eradicate the issues that lay within. But perhaps this episode shows us that this must happen in a private forum amicably, rather than a public one where you will always get people stirring up the opposition. Equally the media can play a part in heightening this.

At the end of the day, make your own call about a code through testing it out. If you don’t like it, there’s plenty of other options much more suited to your needs. Petty fighting and fanboy baiting gets us, or our language nowhere in the long-run

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