Eugene Yokota at Scala Days: “The true joy is in the everyday discussions I have with colleagues and other contributors”

A member of the Scala Team at Lightbend, Eugene Yokota is a maintainer of sbt since 0.13.5. If you are interested in learning about sbt, then Eugene’s talk sbt core concepts at Scala Days Lausanne is for you.

From developing hacking as a hobby to his role as sbt maintainer at Lightbend, we have spoken to Eugene about his background, his passion for Scala and the details of his upcoming talk at Scala Days Lausanne.

What is your most favorite Scala Days story or memory?

The first Scala Days I attended was Scala Days 2011 that took place at Stanford University. As a Scala hobbyist, I didn’t know many people, but I got to meet some people whom I’ve only talked to online before and looked at the heroes who inspired me (sometimes I’d muster up the courage and say hi). The talks were amazing too. People were pushing the boundaries of Scala to do all sorts of things, like Delite (that was using Scala to create a DSL, and then do some simulation on GPUs and other hardware), Spark, and Kafka.

What’s your background and what does your current role involve?

I used to develop a financial app during the day, and hack on hobby projects like sbt-assembly and blog about functional programming at night and weekend. Thankfully, around five years ago someone at Lightbend took notice of this and I’ve been maintaining sbt since then. Currently, I am an engineer at Lightbend Scala team.

What’s the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I’ve been hoping to work on a project that has a wide impact, so the combination of open-source involvements, blogging, Twitter, Meetup has changed my life path from before. If I have to name a milestone, I’d say it’s getting my contributions merged to sbt/sbt and scala/scala, but the true joy is in the everyday discussions I have with colleagues and other contributors, or hallway conversations at a conference.

Why did you choose Scala and what kind of problems does it solve for you?

I picked up Scala because I wanted to learn something new, and improve my programming skills. I continued because it did, in fact, show me various notions I could further dig in and explore.

What is the biggest challenge Scala developers are facing today?

The most important challenge facing Scala is dramatically widening its user base. For example, R or Python is sometimes used by life scientists for data analysis purposes.

What can help address this challenge?

A book or a course created for scientists might help address this challenge.

Who should attend your talk at Scala Days and why?

Anyone who has used sbt or written a build definition and was confused by it will be interested in the talk. I want to share what I’ve learned about sbt in the process of maintaining it and overhauling it for sbt 1.

Whom would you like to connect with at the conference?

I am looking forward to talking and thanking various contributors to sbt (either by helping others, reporting issues, or sending pull requests).

In particular, I’m looking forward to meeting Andrea Peruffo who was one of the key contributors to implement Coursier integration in sbt 1.3.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Related to widening our user base, we as Scala community should strive to be more inclusive in terms of welcoming women, LGBTQ, racial minorities and other underrepresented groups into the community. There are a few small things you can do to make Scala Days a fun place for everyone:

1. No, it’s not ok to hit on others at a conference.
2. Please assume technical competence, and treat everyone as professional peers.

Thankfully, Scala Days is one of the conferences that adopts Code of Conduct that expressly forbids asking other participants out, which is inspired by ScalaMatsuri CoC.

There will be a ScalaBridge event at EPFL during Scala Days, so check that out too!

Don’t miss Eugene Yokota and his talk sbt core concepts at Scala Days Lausanne on June 12th. Book your ticket now.

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