December 12, 2015 · scala spark akka conferences

Scala eXchange 2015, London

This past week was the Europe's largest annual Scala conference, Scala eXchange. Starting with the excellent keynote by Jessica Kerr, the conference was full of interesting talks. The workshops during the last day were an excellent idea, giving attendees a chance to learn hands-on about some topics discussed during the conference.

Scala eXchange 2015

Among all talks, I would like to remark "Inappropriate applications for Scala" by Danielle Ashley. She explained the problems she faced to implement an MP3 decoder and a GameBoy emulator. Besides being technically interesting (don't try it at home!), it was the most entertaining talk I attended. Well done!


Of course, Spark had a prominent place in the conference program. There was talks about Spark streaming, batch and even how to use Spark notebooks in data science. Although interesting, most of them were at introductory level, explaining the API and the mandatory "word count" example.

I particularly enjoyed a talk about combining batch and stream analytics with Spark and Cassandra by Christopher Batey. He talked about the problems Sky found to analyse data in their production Cassandra cluster and how they solved them with Spark and Spark streaming. I would love to see more talks about real use cases and production deployments like this one.

Akka and Actor Models

Actor models and Akka in particular had quite a few dedicated talks. Jonas Bonér's keynote gave a good overview about why resilience is important and some of the solutions found in other complex systems like countries and meerkat colonies.

Other talks used Akka to explain different concepts, like event sourcing, reactive streams, CQRS and reactive web services.

Functional Programming

As Jessica explained in the keynote, after finishing your first Scala course it's not easy to learn about more advanced FP concepts like type classes and category theory (functors, monoids, etc). The main problem is that, apart from being quite abstract concepts, there's not much information available out there. And the information that exists is not very good.

That's why having talks for beginners about these topics is a must in Scala eXchange. That said, I found confusing the few that I attended, either rushing through concepts or giving them for granted. I guess workshops were a better format to understand those concepts.

Sum Up

Personally I enjoyed a lot Scala eXchange '15. I've learned quite a few things and I've got a long list of books, blogs, papers and videos to check out. It has also been reassuring to talk with other attendees and see that we are struggling with similar problems.

See you next year!

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