Scala Language Creator Launches Startup Typesafe

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-05-12

Scala Language Creator Launches Startup Typesafe

With new languages running on the Java Virtual Machine becoming increasingly popular, the creator of Scala has launched Typesafe, a new company focused on commercializing the language.

Typesafe, launched May 12, is known as the Scala company. Martin Odersky, creator of Scala, co-founded the company with Jonas Boner-Typesafe chief technology officer and creator of the Scala-based Akka middleware project, touching off with $3 million in Series A financing led by Greylock Partners.

The company introduced the open-source Typesafe Stack, which integrates the most recent releases of the Scala programming language, Akka middleware and developer tools to simplify and accelerate software development with Scala. Typesafe is offering commercial support and maintenance through the optional Typesafe Subscription.

Created by Typesafe co-founder and CEO Martin Odersky, Scala is a modern programming language designed for multicore hardware architectures and cloud computing workloads. Because it runs on the JVM, Scala offers interoperability with Java. Scala has a rapidly growing community of users and contributors, and is proven in production with some of the world's most highly trafficked Web properties, including Foursquare, LinkedIn and Twitter, Typesafe officials said.

"The previous generation application architecture came from sequential computing and it is running out of steam," Odersky said in a statement. "This shows in the middleware stack, too. With Typesafe, we're introducing a modern software architecture that is designed for parallel and distributed computing, bringing huge advantages in scalability and reliability. Moreover, Typesafe is committed to ensuring Scala is 100 percent interoperable with existing Java investments in the enterprise."

Greylock partner Bill Kaiser, who made a bet on open source as an early investor in Red Hat, said of Typesafe in a statement: "With Moore's Law now driving core counts instead of clock speed, we've entered the era of -Big Cores.' Meanwhile, faced with the challenges of multicore and cloud computing, the Java platform is at a crossroads. Scala is the only proven alternative that solves these two computing challenges for big enterprises-and Typesafe is the only company, with its people and technology IP, that can take Scala to the mainstream."

Greylock was joined in the Series A investment by individual investors including Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president of Growth, Mobile and International at Facebook; Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum, founders of VMware; Francois Stieger, a former executive at VeriSign, Broadvision, and Oracle; and Jeff Huber, senior vice president of Commerce & Local at Google.

"Scala has been a powerful programming tool for LinkedIn and has offered greater scalability and efficiency towards our programming efforts," said Chris Conrad, engineering manager at LinkedIn, in a statement. "We're glad to see the creators of Scala launch Typesafe to further invest in the next generation of programming languages."

Moreover, to underscore its commitment to extending the Java ecosystem through Scala, Typesafe also named to its board of advisors Java creator James Gosling and Java concurrency expert Doug Lea. Willy Zwaenepoel, distributed and parallel computing expert and professor at Switzerland's top technical university (Ecole Polytechnique F??«d??«rale de Lausanne - EPFL), rounds out the Typesafe advisory board.

The Typesafe Stack offers a modern architecture for building scalable applications that can handle multicore and cloud computing workloads. The stack is comprised of the Scala language, Akka middleware and a set of developer tools including the Scala IDE for Eclipse.

Typesafe officials said Scala smoothly integrates features of object-oriented and functional languages, enabling developers to be more productive and write more scalable code while retaining full interoperability with Java.  Scala version 2.9, available for the first time today, adds support for parallel collections that automatically "extract parallelism" to enable simple and effective use of multicore hardware.

Scala Language Creator Launches Startup Typesafe

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Meanwhile, Akka is an event-driven middleware framework for building high performance and reliable distributed applications. Akka decouples business logic from low-level mechanisms such as threads, locks and non-blocking I/O. Akka version 1.1, available for the first time today, builds on the recent 1.0 release by offering improved packaging, performance, and scalability.

In a February blog post on the Scala project Website, Phil Bagwell, an engineer on the Typesafe team, wrote of the release of Akka 1.0:

"Akka is an open-source Scala project that gives developers a simpler programming model to develop highly reliable applications for concurrent or parallel operation. Using the popular Actor model as a basis, Akka extends the concept to provide high availability and fault tolerance. Akka contains high performance components that allow you to simply carry out safe concurrent operations in an application. Software Transactional Memory (STM), for example, has been combined with Actors to provide Transactional Actors giving you an elegantly way to specify such things as message flow, automatic retry and rollback. Akka has many advanced features that enable reliable concurrent systems to be developed faster."

The Scala IDE for Eclipse provides a rich development environment with syntax highlighting, code completion, and integrated debugging, company officials said. Scala IDE version 2.0, in beta today, was recently rebuilt from the ground-up by Typesafe for improved performance and stability.  Complementing the IDE, Simple Build Tool (sbt) automates compilation and dependency management of Scala and Java projects.

Alex Payne, former platform lead at Twitter and current CTO of online banking startup BankSimple, said: "Scala played a critical role in improving the scalability and reliability of Twitter's backend services. At BankSimple, our team is using both Scala and Akka to build a flexible architecture that allows us to rapidly integrate with our partners and scale predictably when needed. We're happy to know that the brilliant people at Typesafe are supporting Scala and Akka with a comprehensive set of commercial services."

"Looks like some great minds are behind this company," Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, told eWEEK. "It makes sense that as programming ideas evolve, new languages with primitives supporting them are born. We already saw new Java EE proposals to support multi-tenancy and elasticity. So the question is will we need new languages for these or is it enough to incorporate in the frameworks."

The Typesafe Stack is backed by Typesafe co-founders Odersky, Boner and their team of engineers. Typesafe not only offers optional commercial support and maintenance through the Typesafe Subscription, but also provides documentation, training and consulting services to help extend the use and productivity of Scala in the Java ecosystem.

"We're entering a polyglot era in software development, driven by cloud and multicore systems architectures, as new languages emerge to challenge, and coexist with, the long hegemony of Java and .NET," said James Governor, analyst at RedMonk, in a statement. "Typesafe is a commercial business aiming to catalyze momentum around Scala, one of the languages building real grassroots interest and adoption at sites such as Twitter and The Guardian."

Typesafe will be participating in Scala Days 2011, the premier annual event for Scala enthusiasts, researchers and practitioners, at Stanford University on June 2-3, 2011. Typesafe will also be offering Scala and Akka training courses on May 31 and June 1 at Stanford, preceding the Scala Days conference.

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