A data engineer based in Chicago, Richard Whaling is currently working on a book about Scala Native (to be released soon, stay tuned!) and has contributed to the 0.2 and 0.3 releases of Scala Native. He is passionate about communicating deep technical concepts in an engaging and passionate way.
In advance of his talk “Fast, Simple Concurrency with Scala Native” at Scala Days Lausanne 2019, we spoke to Richard about his journey from linguistics to Scala, the biggest challenge Scala developers are facing today and that one talk by a fellow Scala speaker that expanded his notion of what is possible in Scala.
What’s your background and what does your current role involve?
My background is actually in linguistics and lexicography for dead languages (Ancient Greek and Latin), but I worked in high-performance computing labs after college and eventually picked up a CS degree. In my current role, I lead data engineering efforts at a FinTech startup, as well as owning our backend banking systems.
What’s the biggest highlight of your career so far?
It’s been a dream of mine to write and publish a book for some time, so signing a contract with one of my favorite publishers, and releasing the beta draft online, have been really important moments for me.
Why did you choose Scala and what kind of problems does it solve for you?
When I originally started learning Scala, close to 10 years ago, I was working on XML databases – Scala’s built-in XML support was a big draw, as was interoperability with the Java ecosystem.
I’m in a much different place today – I haven’t had to deal with XML in years, and I am much more excited about Scala as a platform of its own rather than its alignment with Java.
What’s the biggest challenge Scala developers are facing today?
Maintaining a support, constructive, and inclusive community in the face of a huge number of changes, both within the Scala world, the wider JVM community, and technology as a whole.
What’s one thing that could address this challenge?
Invest in high-quality, pure-Scala implementations of critical components and dependencies.
What’s your most favorite Scala Days story or memory?
I’ve seen so many great talks, but Tiark Rompf’s talk about Flare (an experimental Spark backend) in 2017 was just jaw-dropping. It expanded my notion of what is possible in Scala.
Who should attend your talk at Scala Days and why?
People who like to build things from scratch; anyone who gets exasperated by over-complicated concurrency models and ugly memory-safety constraints; everyone who is interested in learning how to apply Scala Native to real problems.
Whom would you like to connect with at the conference?
Anyone who wants to geek out about pointers 😉
Tell us more, something we haven’t covered with our questions but you would really like to share with the world?
I am excited to be a part of the Scala Community, and can’t wait to see where it goes over the next 10 years!