Akka Nearing 10 Years Hits 200K Dev Milestone

Lightbend, the company behind the Scala JVM language and developer of the Reactive Platform, announced a 200,000-user milestone for its Akka platform, just a few months short of the platform's 10-year anniversary.

Akka is written in Scala, a general purpose, multi-paradigm language designed to integrate features of object-oriented programming and functional programming. The language, developed by Lightbend co-founder Martin Odersky, runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and is compatible with existing Java programs.

Akka was originally created by Swedish programmer Jonas Bonér, who had built compilers, runtimes, and open source frameworks for distributed applications for vendors such as BEA and Terracotta. Bonér was frustrated by the scale and resilience limitations of CORBA, RPC, XA, Enterprise JavaBeans, SOA, and the Web Services standards and abstraction techniques Java developers used at the time. He turned to the Actor Model, which emphasizes loose coupling and embracing failure in software systems and dataflow concurrency, used by the Erlang and Oz languages.

Bonér developed concept of the Akka Actor Kernel (later shortened to Akka) in 2009 and shared the first public release of Akka 0.5 on GitHub. It would eventually become the de facto model for concurrency in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Today Akka is used by PayPal, LinkedIn, and Capital One, among others, to handle billions of transactions at massive scale in their cloud-native systems. It's also used by the popular online game Fortnite.

Bonér says Carl Hewitt, who invented the Actor Model in the early 1970s, was ahead of his time. "Today, the world has caught up with Hewitt's visionary thinking; multi-core processors, cloud computing, mobile devices, and the internet of things is the norm," he said in a statement. "These trends in cloud-native have created the need for a solid foundation to model concurrent and distributed processes is greater than ever. Akka provides the firm ground developers so desperately need in order to build complex distributed systems that are up for the job of addressing today's challenges -- adhering to the Reactive principles of being responsive, resilient, and elastic."

Conceptualized in the "Reactive Manifesto," which was co-authored by Bonér, reactive applications are apps that better meet the "contemporary challenges of software development" in a world in which applications are deployed to everything from mobile devices to cloud-based clusters running thousands of multicore processors. The Fast Data Platform is billed by the company as the industry's first platform to brings application responsiveness, resilience and elasticity -- the hallmarks of Reactive -- to the streaming data application stack, addressing streaming data requirements from development through production.

Lightbend joined the Eclipse Foundation last year to bring Reactive principles to Eclipse Jakarta EE.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].