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CowboyRobot writes "David Chisnall of the University of Cambridge describes how interfacing between languages is increasingly important. You can no longer expect a nontrivial application to be written in a single language. High-level languages typically call code written in lower-level languages as part of their standard libraries (for example, GUI rendering), but adding calls can be difficult. In particular, interfaces between two languages that are not C are often difficult to construct. Even relatively simple examples, such as bridging between C++ and Java, are not typically handled automatically and require a C interface. The problem of interfacing between languages is going to become increasingly important to compiler writers over the coming years."

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Original author: 
Todd Hoff

This is an email interview with Viktor Klang, Director of Engineering at Typesafe, on the Scala Futures model & Akka, both topics on which is he is immensely passionate and knowledgeable.

How do you structure your application? That’s the question I explored in the article Beyond Threads And Callbacks. An option I did not talk about, mostly because of my own ignorance, is a powerful stack you may not be all that familiar with: Scala and Akka.

To remedy my oversight is our acting tour guide, Typesafe’s Viktor Klang, long time Scala hacker and Java enterprise systems architect. Viktor was very patient in answering my questions and was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge. He’s a guy who definitely knows what he is talking about.

I’ve implemented several Actor systems along with the messaging infrastructure, threading, async IO, service orchestration, failover, etc, so I’m innately skeptical about frameworks that remove control from the programmer at the cost of latency.

So at the end of the interview am I ready to drink the koolaid? Not quite, but I’ll have a cup of coffee with the idea. 

I came to think of Scala + Akka as a kind of a IaaS for your process architecture. Toss in Play for the web framework and you have a slick stack, with far more out of the box power than Go, Node, or plaino jaino Java.

The build or buy decision is surprisingly similar to every other infrastructure decision you make. Should you use a cloud or build your own? It’s the same sort of calculation you need to go through when deciding on your process architecture. While at the extremes you lose functionality and flexibility, but since they’ve already thought of most everything you would need to think about, with examples, and support, you gain a tremendous amount too. Traditionally, however, processes architecture has been entirely ad-hoc. That may be changing. 

Now, let’s start the interview with Viktor...

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