A Scala & Akka champion and a global course instructor for Lightbend, Eric began programming in various machine languages over 35 years ago, passing via C and Java to Scala and Akka.
At Scala Days, together with Kiki Carter, Principal Enterprise Architect at Lightbend, Inc., and Brian Benz, Sr. Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft, he will be hosting a workshop “Understanding Akka Cluster Through Raspberry-Pi Cluster Visualization”. In this interview, Eric speaks about his career, the biggest challenges Scala and Akka developers are facing right now and the workshop he’s hosting at Scala Days New York in June.
What’s your background and what does your current role involve?
I have a background in Electronics Engineering and my first job was in exactly that domain: I worked as a pre-sales engineer at Texas Instruments for 4.5 years and programmed microprocessors ranging from 8-bit microcontrollers via graphical system processors to the first generation of digital signal processors. At that time, programming these devices meant programming in machine language. Even though it’s been a long time since I did this, it still gives me a unique angle on modern hard- and software: modern software engineers tend to be quite disconnected from the hardware on which their software will run.
In my current job I perform consulting on Akka and Scala and I’m also a master teacher for Lightbend’s Scala and Akka courses. Teaching is actually one of my favorite activities.
What’s the biggest highlight of your career so far?
Difficult to pick a specific one. I’m always proud of having solved a difficult problem, sometimes in creative and ingenious ways. For example, I once successfully performed a migration project at a big bank that other consultants didn’t dare to tackle. I requested and got approval from the customer to utilise Scala as tool for the migration and it’s fair to state that without Scala, it would have been impossible to achieve success within the boundaries set forward for the project.
Why did you pick Scala & Akka and what kind of problems do they solve for you?
I learned about Scala in September 2012 while watching a podcast about Coursera while on holiday. After watching the podcast, I looked for programming courses on the Coursera website and saw the “Functional Programming Principles with Scala” course organized by EPFL. The course started exactly on that day, so I signed up and was really excited about it! I picked up on Akka a bit later and started using it in customer projects. Akka allows me to implement applications that utilize concurrency in an elegant way. With Akka, a developer can choose to program in Java or Scala. I prefer the latter as the code tends to be more concise and focussed on solving the problem at hand.
What’s the most important challenge Scala & Akka developers are facing today?
The evolution of programming is accelerating at an ever increasing pace. The challenge is to keep up with that pace. That’s why we need to be more efficient in transferring knowledge about Akka and Scala and that’s exactly one of my favorite areas of interest.
What’s one thing that could address this challenge?
One of my pet peeves is that we have to take people from where they are to where to want to be in small and ‘digestible’ steps. Take one step at a time. Learn to walk before trying to run.
Who should attend your workshop at Scala Days and why?
Anyone with an interest in Akka and Clustering. The way we teach and demonstrate the inner workings of Akka Cluster is unique and it allows people to grasp difficult concepts in a fraction of the time needed in a more traditional way of teaching. Furthermore, it provides room for experimentation in a fast and efficient way.
Whom would you like to connect with at the conference?
I’ve always enjoyed meeting people at Scala Days. It’s a great community and one can meet people ranging from those who have just started their journey with Akka and Scala to the “rock stars” in the domain.
Don’t miss Eric Loots and his workshop “Understanding Akka Cluster Through Raspberry-Pi Cluster Visualization” with Kiki Carter, Principal Enterprise Architect at Lightbend, Inc. and Brian Benz, Sr. Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft, on June 19th at Scala Days in New York. Workshop spaces are limited, so book your ticket now.