Minutes of the 29th meeting of the Scala Center, Q2 2023
Minutes are archived on the Scala Center website.
The following agenda was distributed to attendees: agenda.
Center activities for the past quarter focused on language and compiler improvements, tooling and developer experience improvements, documentation and education, and community and the contributor experience.
Details are below and in the Center’s activity report:
One new proposal was received this quarter:
- SCP-031: Ensure reachability of Scala websites
The work was already completed by the Center before the meeting, and no one objected to considering it “accepted” as well as “completed”.
Other business discussed included the now-open technical director role, fundraising and crowdfunding, certifications, governance, Scala 2 release plans, and community venues such as conferences, meetups, chat rooms and forums.
Date, Time and Location
The meeting took place virtually on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at 15:00 (UTC).
Minutes were taken by Seth Tisue (secretary).
- Chris Kipp (chairperson)
- also board member, representing Lunatech
- Darja Jovanovic (executive director), EPFL
- Julien Richard-Foy (technical director), EPFL
- Seth Tisue (secretary), Lightbend
- also board member, representing Lightbend, subbing for Lukas Rytz
- James Belsey (Morgan Stanley) (subbing for Daniela Sfregola)
- Krzysztof Borowski, VirtusLab (subbing for Krzysztof Romanowski)
- Maureen Elsberry and Diego Alonso, Xebia Functional
- Claire McGinty, Spotify
- Lukas Rytz, Lightbend
- Eugene Yokota, community representative
Krzysztof introduced himself, as (unlike the other subs) it was his first time attending.
Julien summarized Scala Center activities since the last meeting. He presented from these slides, which concisely show what the Center is working on:
His remarks were based on the Center’s more detailed Q2 quarterly activity report:
And the Center’s Q3 roadmap:
The following notes do not repeat the content of the report and roadmap, but only supplement them.
Julien announced that he is leaving the Center soon. This is his last board meeting.
A board member asked if it is known yet who the Center’s new Technical Director will be. Answer: not known yet, but Darja will keep the board posted. In the meantime, Julien has already handed over many of his specific duties to other team members. For example, Seb will manage the MOOCs and Toli is the new SIP chair. Darja will present the technical report at the next meeting.
Darja presented this section.
She thanked Julien for his years of service to the Center. “My heart breaks that Julien is leaving. You will be missed.”
Johanna’s stint at the Center is ending and the series of six blog posts she has been working on will begin appearing soon. (A few weeks after the meeting, the first in the series, about Goldman Sachs’s open source efforts, appeared.)
Sylvie is also leaving the Center, to take a different post at EPFL. A search for a new part-time administrative assistant is in progress. (Since the meeting, a new assistant was hired, to begin work in September.)
Ayman Lamyaghri is joining the Center for a six-week internship, working on the Scala debugger.
Darja congratulated Xebia Functional for organizing a successful Scala Days conference in Seattle, with the Center’s help. Xebia is also preparing the September edition in Madrid. Several Center members traveled to North America for the first time, to speak at the conference and at two meetups in San Francisco.
Darja also discussed the Center’s fundraising efforts and strategy. New funding is needed in order to maintain the current team size into next year. Ideally enough new funding can be found to actually grow the team. The resumption of in-person conferences such as Scala Days is already proving to be a good opportunity to make contacts that we hope will lead to new board members and other forms of support for the Center. Some of this occurred in Seattle and even more will occur in Madrid.
One board member asked about crowdfunding. Could it be easier for Scala users to make a monthly donation to the Center, perhaps via Patreon or OpenCollective or a similar platform? Darja said they plan to work on that, but in the short term securing large donors is the top priority.
Another board member asked if the Center has considered offering certifications, as a revenue source. Darja said the extension school program might be a channel for doing that, but not this year.
Scala 2 report
This was presented by Seth. He said that the 2.12.18 and 2.13.11 releases this quarter seem to have been well-received.
For the next releases, he mentioned the following Discourse threads that the team at Lightbend is using for planning and community input:
He said 2.13.12 could be released as soon as August, or not long
after, partly to address minor regressions, but more importantly to
ship the work on actionable diagnostics (or “quickfixes”) that we have
been collaborating on with Eugene, JetBrains, and others. The team
also continues to improve alignment with Scala 3, especially under the
-Xsource:3 compiler flag. The team has noticed that more and more
open source projects are leaving this flag enabled in their builds,
rather than just turning it on briefly to get migration advice.
Eugene shared some thoughts about how to encourage more activity and communication in the Scala community, both online and in person. This sparked a lively and wide-ranging discussion among the board.
Eugene said there have been multiple challenges around this in recent years, notably the pandemic of course, but also Twitter’s decline as a central point for sharing, as some users have departed for Mastodon and elsewhere. “It’s currently unclear where communication in general happens.” He recalled past eras of Scala where meetups and Twitter were key for people to connect with each other, and community projects flourished as a result. Today there’s Reddit, there’s Discord, but there’s no central “what is happening” kind of place. “People are retreating into smaller circles,” their colleagues or their open-source collaborators, with less mingling with people they wouldn’t normally be in contact with. However Reddit is “a pretty good mix of people,” including new people asking questions about Scala 3, about what libraries to use, and so forth. Reddit, however, is currently being threatened with boycotts because they blocked access to third party apps.
After someone takes a Scala Center MOOC, or reads Programming in Scala, Eugene said, what to do next isn’t always clear. Maybe we could provide some guidance about projects whose source code is educational to read. The established projects are often too big, too overwhelming (for example, Lichess). Are there medium sized projects we could direct them to?
Eugene: I think it does help if there’s a place you can ask a question and the hit rate is high. Discord is pretty good for that. There’s people hanging out, and there’s people who are helpful who will try to answer sincerely. Maybe we could highlight more that the Scala Discord exists and people are hanging out there? Connecting with other people, and learning new things, that’s what makes people stick around in the community.
Seth agreed that chat on Discord (and Gitter before it) has been a real bright spot in our community in recent years. “Things have been really good there,” he said. Especially during the pandemic, it was important that we had that. But I can’t think of an action that would help. But he agreed with Eugene that meetups were also hugely important, pre-pandemic. “So many of us got involved with Scala through meetups.” So anything we can do to encourage meetups to get going again could be really helpful.
Darja said the Center is trying to foster meetups by traveling together to European cities, by train usually, and doing events. “We’ve noticed a huge enthusiasm on the ground. Us coming would jumpstart things.” The tooling summit also helped get Scala Italy restarted as a conference. “There is enthusiasm out there that we need to ride and encourage even more.” The first action point is that we will have a community panel at Scala Days, led by Zainab Ali, who is very active in getting the London meetup going again. The panel will talk about attracting newcomers and retaining newcomers and improving diversity.
Darja also emphasized that the IT economy is not in good shape right now, and as a result, companies that used to answer “yes” often say “no” now. She’s hearing that from other conference organizers as well.
A board member observed that one challenge is that many companies don’t have office space anymore. Could we share information around that, maybe have a database for locations around the world, where free meeting space is available, which companies are interested in sponsoring, that kind of thing?
Another board member observed that Scala itself is in a new phase where it’s not as new and fresh anymore, compared to the early era Eugene recalled. Scala is more established, so it may be normal that it’s somewhat harder to attract people to meetups.
Darja: In Madrid we got in touch with Juan Manuel Serrano Hidalgo who is teaching Scala at a university there, and he secured a university building in central Madrid for the SIP meeting and tooling summit and Scala Spree. He also got in touch with local companies. Once you stumble upon someone like that who is very enthusiastic, activity can really spread like wildfire, in the most positive way.
Another board member suggested promoting the Scala Discord at the events in Madrid, so people know it’s somewhere active they can go. They also mentioned that non-English-language chat servers for Scala exist and some are quite active. These are linked from the Scala community page.
SCP-031: Ensure reachability of Scala websites
The text of the Lukas and Seth’s proposal is here:
During the technical report section, Julien summarized how Fabien Salvi at the Center resolved the issue. “We deployed a new infrastructure that uses a reverse proxy in front of the EPFL network, fixing the reachability issue.” This was also covered in a blog post published on July 12.
Since the work is already done, we didn’t vote formally. There were no objections from the board to considering the proposal both accepted and completed.
Governance page (SCP-030)
At the request of a board member, Chris asked about the status of SCP-030, “The governance page for Scala”. Darja said that an initial round of work was completed in time for Scala Days Seattle, and then they plan to make further improvements in time for Scala Days Madrid.
The company presentations will resume next quarter.
Some board members will be at Scala Days Madrid, but others won’t, and there are many other events on the schedule that week, so we won’t try to hold an in-person meeting. But there will be a dinner for board members, perhaps in combination with the SIP (Scala Improvement Process) committee.