Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Typelevel Scala fork

Strictly for the Scala programmers in the audience, but I've noticed a lot of folks using it to one degree or another recently: the Typelevel group is prepping to fork the Scala language. Read the article for more details, but none of it is especially surprising -- as Scala has become a "realer" language, being used in a lot of major enterprises, Typesafe (the official maintainers of the language) have become more conservative about changes, especially in the name of back-compatibility. The folks at Typelevel, who are by and large doing most of the most advanced and ambitious stuff in Scala, have become frustrated by this, and want the language to be able to evolve more quickly.

They seem to be doing it right: while they're planning on moving faster, they're also planning on making the changes in a compiler-mergeable way. So the overall effect is that the new effort is probably going to become a community-driven fork whose better ideas will gradually feed back into the official trunk of the language. Typesafe have officially declared their support for the effort, which should greatly reduce the potential for stupid politics. Overall, it's likely to be a win for everybody.

So if you're seriously interested in Scala, keep an eye on this project. I expect it to be provocative, sometimes controversial, but really interesting...

ETA: Just to head off other people having the same confusion I had, there is also a *second* fork of the Scala Compiler (although not so much the Scala language), from Paul Philips.  I get the impression that Paul has been working on this for a while, and he decided to go public in response to the Typelevel announcement.  There, there *is* a fair amount of stupid politics going on.  Nothing new and surprising, though: the friction between Martin (the primary author of the language) and Paul (who wrote much of the compiler) has been brewing for a long time now, and is pretty well-known: by now, they have deep divisions over how things should proceed.  Paul has long been on the record that (a) the compiler has become an unmaintainable mess and (b) since there is no fully-detailed language spec, that's unhealthy for the language.

Not quite sure how that's going to play out; my hope is that the Typelevel folks find a way to bring Paul into the fold, calm him down a bit, and give him a way to feed his work back into the "mainstream" without being directly under Martin's thumb.  He is unquestionably one of the most important long-term contributors to the language, and I have a nasty suspicion that his version of the compiler is going to be significantly more stable than the official one.  But he is explicitly *not* making a goal of compiler compatibility -- whereas Typelevel is trying to improve the language, he is mainly concerned with replacing the compiler with one that can be enhanced and maintained with less pain...
Tags: scala

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