Devoxx 2013: Functional programming becoming mainstream

I was at the Devoxx-conference last week and the main conclusion for me is that functional programming is finally becoming mainstream. One of the main reasons for this is obviously Oracle finally (and long overdue) delivering project Lambda (JSR 335) in Java 8 next spring. Venkat Subramaniam of Agile Developer did an excellent, inspiring talk full of jokes on the use of Lambdas in Java.

Groovy is groovy

But other languages are contributing as well to the rising popularity of functional programming. The most popular alternative JVM-language, Groovy, still seems to become more popular. I saw some excellent talks about the grooviness of Groovy (by Guillaume Laforge), about Goovy-based test-frameworks Spock and Geb (by Luke Daley and Peter Niederwieser) and a ‘quicky’ about Functional Groovy by Andres Almiray. The increasing use of Groovy-based build automation tool Gradle is also striking. I didn’t count, but it got mentioned in several talks on very different subjects. (Apart from some specific talks about Gradle, which I couldn’t attend, unfortunately.)

And then there’s of course Scala, the “OO meets functional” JVM-language. There were some excellent Scala-related talks at Devoxx, e.g. the “Coding in style” talk by Joshua Suereth. My take on it is that Scala is here to stay, but not for the mainstream. The language is just too difficult, I think.


There was also substantial attention for non-JVM languages this edition of Devoxx. There were many talks about JavaScript-based tools and frameworks, and ‘new kid on the block’ Dart got a lot of attention because of Google announcing its 1.0 release in their keynote on Thursday. Dart certainly shows a lot of potential, but the lack of native support in browser will be Dart’s weakest link for the years to come. I’m very curious what the competition of Dart and JavaScript will bring.

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