Last week I attended Scala LiftOff London 2011 at the Skills Matters Exchange, and being very new to the community aspect of Scala i didn’t know what to expect. One thing is for sure, I could never have imagined the kind of sharing and positive atmosphere that I got from the people there.
There where lots of interesting talks on a wide variety of subjects, all the way from low level bit shifting in concurrent data structures all the way to how you build a real time sports betting system with Scala and Lift or integrate your Scala code with existing JEE applications. There is no doubt that there are lots of things happening around Scala right now, and the pace is fast.
One thing that really hit home though was the excellent keynote by David Pollak that asked the question if Scala had really crossed the chasm, and reminded us that history is full of brilliant technology that has failed, since no single product can survive on technical merit alone.
But how can we ensure that Scala is successful? The obvious answers are of course tooling, support and continued innovation, but an equally important aspect is probably accessibility. People, both programmers, managers and other decision makers, need to feel at home with Scala. So we need to show them just how easy, familiar and powerful Scala is. This is where Phil Bagwells presentation about Kojo comes into the picture.
Kojo is a Scala based learning tool that was designed for teaching kids, but as Phil pointed out “We are all just 11 year olds mentally, who like shiny toys”. That fact makes Kojo an excellent presentation tool. By not only showing people static slides with code and promises (yes I’m guilty of this as well), but letting them interact with the code in the presentation Kojo makes Scala directly and easily accessible.