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Amsterdam Scala Days 2015

From the 8th till the 10th of June, Scala Days was held in Amsterdam for the very first time. Being able to be there was an opportunity not to be missed. The conference was held in one of the most central and impressive places of Amsterdam, namely the Beurs van Berlage, which was designed as a commodity exchange by architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage and constructed between 1896 and 1903. It influenced many modernist architects, in particular functionalists and the Amsterdam School, and looking at the interior of the building, one can understand why.

On Monday, the kickoff of the event was done by Martin Odersky, who gave an interesting overview of where Scala is coming from and where it’s heading. Martin spoke in a humble way about some of the imperfections of Scala, for example Scala’s binary incompatibility, and the efforts being undertaken to overcome these. Martin also mentioned the DOT/dotty/TASTY, but the details were vague. The idea is clear, but no roadmap or clear status update was giving. I’m pretty sure we’ll hear more about this in the next year.

After the keynote it was time to catch up with some friends who I had not seen for a long time. After a great dinner together, it was time to head home and relax to prepare for the invigorating days to come.

Day 2
The days started with a philosophical keynote from Jonas Boner about the concept of time and how we should model it and deal with it in our systems. Due to place I was situated, and maybe partly the content itself, the talk was complex to fully grasp, but it was an interesting talk nonetheless.

The first session of my day, Actors vs Types, started of with a great learning lesson: be on time. I wasn’t, which meant the room was full. Luckily, all sessions are recorded and this is certainly one of the sessions I want to view once the recordings have been published. Instead, I went to GraphX, one of the many interesting sessions about Apache Spark.

After that, it seemed I picked the sessions on the wrong tracks, and it wasn’t until the PagerDuty talk that I got inspired again. The PagerDuty talk was an enormously fast-paced talk, full of energy and interesting approached on how to test your software. I love their approach and I will certainly have another look at the code demonstrated during the session. It was to taxing on my mind to immediately grasp all of it, but the general idea, how to make tests simple and readable stuck. Definitely one to watch.

After that, the session ‘What’s new since “Programming in Scala”‘, by Marconi Lanna, which gave a great overview of the new language features since Scala 2.8. I’m hoping Marconi will update the Programming Scala book with a new version which will cover the new additions to the language, since his style of explanation was to the point and full of interesting examples.

Unfortunately, I could stick around for the late sessions due to some other obligations, but there was still a day of conferencing left, and I was already full of energy!

Day 3
After an energising keynote from Adam Gibson about the Future (ha!) of AI, it was time for already the last day of the conference. Since one of my bigger interests is writing software tests, I went to the session Types vs Tests, by Amanda Laucher. This was immediately the best session of the conference I had seen so far, and most of the crowed room seemed to agree with me. I would really recommend watching this one, and gives some nice tips in getting rid of you String, String, String signatures, followed by some chats with my some former colleagues causing me to miss a session. Luckily the session after that, Reactive Slick, made up up for that, and it’s a thing I definitely have to look in soon.
Building a REST api in 5 minutes seemed a bit short, but building one in 30 minutes seemed acceptable, so I went to see the session of Thomas Meijers. It was an action packed talk, in which exactly happened what was described (I like that): a fully functional REST api in Play.

All in all, it was great event, especially since it was my first Scala event. A great spirit, lots of interesting people and great talks. My only remark would be that some hands-on sessions would have been nice, for example, getting to dig into Spark or Play instead of listening to the presentations only. Maybe something for next time! I had a great time, and I hope to see you all again at the next Scala event!