Newsletter 14: Closing the Book on 2016


It’s the Underscore newsletter! It has be a long time since the last one—for which I apologise—but now is not the time to dwell on the past. In this edition we’re letting you know about printed copies of our Guide to Shapeless and a hefty discount on our ebooks, in addition to the usual rundown of goings on. Also note that from now until 2017 we’re donating all income from book sales to charity.

Get the Type Astronaut’s Guide to Shapeless

The Type Astronaut’s Guide to Shapeless is a short and to-the-point introduction to Shapeless, the type generic programming library for Scala. We believe that Shapeless has tremendous power, but adoption has been hurt by lack of documentation. The guide sets out to change this.

We’ve made the guide available as a free ebook for a while, but many people have asked for a printed copy. A printed copy is now for sale via Lulu. It’s priced at £14.99 (a bit under $20) and we’re donating all profit till the end of the year to MSF and Amnesty. This is an experiment for us. If there are problems with the books or delivery we hope you’ll forgive us.

50% Off Our Ebooks

We also have nice discount on all our ebooks: 50% off! If you are a newsletter subscriber you will have received a discount code here. This includes Advanced Scala with Cats and Essential Scala. As for the Shapeless Guide, from now until the start of 2017 we’re giving all profits to charity.

Looking Back at 2016

We hope you find something interesting in the above. In a normal newsletter we’d talk about new job postings and articles on the blog. Given we have almost twelve months of content to catch up on, I think it makes more sense to skip that and end the year with some personal ruminations on the state of Scala.

This past year has been very busy for me and for Underscore. We’ve grown a lot and as a result I’ve been doing a lot more travel than before. I attended eight conferences this year, and had several international trips for business. This had an impact on the newsletter and the blog.

Nonetheless I don’t want to seem to be complaining. I’ve enjoyed it all, except the bits that involved airports, and it’s been great to see both the company and the Scala community growing.

Some of the most exciting developments I can recall in my six years of using Scala happened this year. Scala Native is not yet ready for production use, but I’m incredibly excited about its potential. For a good number of years most applications have been able to ignore the JVM’s memory consumption and slow startup. It’s clear that increasing abstraction in server deployment (I’m thinking primarily of AWS Lambda and Google Cloud Functions here, but also tools like Mesos) is making these matter again. We’re already using Scala JS in production to compile code for AWS Lambda, but the Node runtime has limitations. Scala Native offers a better pathway, in my opinion, to overcoming these limitations.

I’ve been very pleased to see an increased focus on community, driven by Typelevel and the Scala Center. Both of these organisations are doing great work to educate developers about Scala, and make the Scala community a better place to be. It’s hard to overestimate how important software is, but software quality is not what it could be. I firmly believe that functional programming is the future of programming, and has the potential to greatly improve the safety and reliability of software. However we need a massive change in software development practices to make this happen. Scala might not have the elegance of Haskell or Idris, but I think it has the best chance of bringing FP to the mainstream, and that needs community and education.

Here’s looking forward to 2017! Talk to you next year.


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