For all those who don't know me personally and read this just to learn about Scalar Conf (http://scalar-conf.com/) - I am not and I never claimed to be a Scala guru. I come from .NET world, this is my natural environment I predate within. I've stopped writing Java code for living around 2006 and I've returned to around-JVM topics about a year ago: not because I've missed Java (I honestly hate Java as a programming language), but because:
- I admire JVM as a platform
- I've fallen in love with some Open Source projects that are powered by JVM
- I admire Java aficionados community, its dynamics, drive & how it develops
- at last but no least, it seems that now, with Clojure & Scala I can use all those JVM goodies without staining my hands with Java itself ^_^
Back to business then ...
Some Scala lovers, majority of them linked professionaly with a company named SoftwareMill (https://softwaremill.com/), have come up with an idea of organizing a first Scala conference in Poland. The overall idea looked a bit crazy, because Scala community here didn't seem truly numerous, but they've decided to give it a go anyway. To make the cookie more attractive:
- they have decided to give up the idea of entry fee
- they have invited really interesting speakers, including people from Scala & Akka teams from TypeSafe (the company behind Scala & Akka - https://typesafe.com/)
- they have found a nice venue - Biblioteka Narodowa, pretty much in the center of Warsaw
How did it go then?
Honestly, it went very well.
- The attendance was very nice, I didn't expect that so many people will show up - there were over 300 Scala hotheads inbound.
- The agenda was VERY well thought - just one stream, but the topics very truly interesting (well, vast majority of them) and presentations were cut to 30 mins each -> that was a guarantee that noone will get bored and the conference will have a proper dynamics
- I was afraid that the lunch break will totally disrupt the agenda, but fortunately the 2nd part of conference day has started with just a short delay.
- I can't say much about social aspect, because I didn't know too many people, but all who I had an opportunity to chat & exchange opinions with were very friendly & passionate about Scala. OTOH, I didn't openly admitted that I am a .NET spy - maybe that has saved my life ;>
What about the particular speeches?
Like I've written above, I'm not a Scala expert and I don't write Scala for living either, but that doesn't mean I had no clue about the presented topics :) Actually, 90% of what was presented was clear enough even for a Scala noob like me.
Let's take a short tour (rating 1-5, with 5 being the best note):
Stefan Zeiger about Slick - 4/5
I really was waiting for this one, because I've heard about Slick (in simple words - Scala's LINQ clone) before, but I had no opportunity to put my hands on it yet. Stefan did a very nice and smooth introduction, with a proper number of code examples. Very, very solid performance. He didn't rock my world, but knowledge-wise he has delivered what was to be delivered.
Matthias Nehlsen about ScalaJS and ReactJS - 3.5/5
Matthias did quite well - it was more than obvious that he knows what he's speaking about and his presentation was very practical (code-based), but I've personally missed a proper introduction: "Here's ScalaJS, here's its purpose, here are its limitations, here's what it good for, etc.". Without that, it felt like presentation was missing a bit of context. At least IMHO.
Adam Warski about Spray.io - 4.5/5
One more hot-topic on my A-MUST-SEE list. No disappointment here - very , very solid performance: clear message, good examples, practical knowledge. I've learned exactly what I've hoped to get after such 30 minutes-long session. Why 4.5 then? Great presentation needs some kind of entertainment factor as well and that was the spark I was missing here. But otherwise than that - great presentation.
Jon Pretty about Algebra with Scala types - ?/5
I can't evaluate it, because I don't take it too seriously :) But it seems that author didn't either. It surely was a nice energizer with a solid dose of self-irony, but nothing more. If there truly is some strong, algebraic theory behind this topic, Jon didn't sell it well enough to the audience.
Grzegorz Kubiak about Scaling Akka on Raspberry PIs - 3/5
In theory, true killer: Akka + Raspberry PI = what on Earth could be sweeter? :) But this didn't work well IMHO: slowness of PIs made us wait for effects of all Grzegorz's actions and Grzegorz himself failed to cover with proper narration. It was clearly that he was well prepared in terms of technical knowledge, but he'd have to re-arrange it a bit to make it a better presentation.
Tomasz Nurkiewicz about Dark side of Scala - 5/5
Best show of the day. The speaker has delivered exactly what was promised - the examples he brought were interesting enough to keep the audience engaged, he was speaking in a very natural way, keeping the contact with the listeners. No complaints, great job, I've enjoyed it a lot.
Kondrad Malawski about Akka-persistence - 4/5
Another topic I wanted to hear about. Konrad's description of event sourcing was so brief and simplified, that I doubt anyone who didn't know this stuff earlier got the idea, but I did, so it didn't affect me :). I've really enjoyed the first half of the presentation - clear enough to make me understand how Akka-persistence works: I've learned exactly what I've wanted. The 2nd half brought nothing memorable though, the presentation has lost its momentum.
Marcin Matuszak about Underscore magic - ?/5
I will not evaluate this one, mainly because the speaker has admitted that it was his first presentation, so don't want to discourage him (if he, by any chance, reads that). I think he knows where he failed and what has to be improved. My only advice is: more rehearsals, more rehearsals, more rehearsals.
Eugene Burmako & Travis Brown about Macro-based type providers in Scala - ?/5
I have trouble with evaluating this particular presentation, because honestly, I didn't know anything about that topic prior to the conference and I wasn't able to fully catch up during the presentation. I felt like I'm missing some deeper context. Nuf said.
Lukasz Kuczera about Scalaz - 3/5
I haven't heard about that library before the conference and ... I didn't learn much about it during this speech. I have no doubts that Łukasz has a lot of experience with it and he's able to bring up many anectodes about it, but it's more than clear that he didn't work hard enough to 'sell' this knowledge to the audience.
It really looked a bit ridiculous when all the good parts of Scalaz he mentioned were: 'Good for validations. Good for building libraries.' - building whole presentation on few anecdotal code samples has clearly failed here.
Grzegorz Kossakowski about Lambda implementation in Scala 2.11 and Java 8 - 4.5/5
I'm proud of myself, because the topic sounded very low-level, but I didn't get lost during the presentation :) All kudos for that go to Grzegorz, because he was able to adjust the detail level in such a smart manner, that everyone could benefit from listening (and watching). Technically, visually & knowledge-wise the presentation was great, but I'm giving only 4.5 because it was missing something - that transient something that would make me remember it for months or even longer.
Mateusz Fedoryszak & Michał Oniszczuk about Scala in Hadoop & Spark - 4/5
As this topic is close to my heart, I had my expectations set quite high - I really wanted to learn something new: I've expected something sexy about Scalding, the project I didn't have a chance to work with. And I think that guys did well, but personally I find their speech far too theoretical.
Actually it's quite easy to defend them, because their subject was quite exotic and introducing everyone into necessary basics within 30 minutes is not easy, but still: it felt like licking the picture of cake: nice looking cake, but still only a picture. In short words: too theoretical and too shallow.
The overall feeling
I liked Scalar Conf. I've spend some really good time there, I've participated in few interesting discussions, I've learned some new stuff - and all that for free. Sadly, I wasn't able to participate in the social part after the conference, but some things can't be helped.
If, by any chance, Scalar happens next year as well - count me in.