10 reasons to Learn Scala Programming Language

One of the questions my reader often ask me is, shall I learn Scala? Does Scala has better future than Java, or why Java developer should learn Scala and so on. Well, there can be many reasons for learning Scala e.g. you are forced to learn because it been used in the new company you joined or your solution architect decided to use it, but that's a different story. Here, we'll talk about reasons which encourage Java developers to learn Scala.  Scala has emerged as one the most powerful Java alternative in recent times. It's been the JVM language of choice, leaving Groovy and Clojure way behind, and preferred as the language people want to write most code in.

Scala has several strong points, strongest being the multi-paradigm language. With the superiority of functional programming idioms to take advantage of multi-core CPU architecture, Scala has the right mix of popular object-oriented paradigm.

It not only solves many of Java issues e.g. less to no boilerplate but also provides several best practices and patterns, right from the language. Despite providing fluency and flexibility of dynamic language like Python, it's still a strongly statically typed language to prevent you from doing bad things, which just happen at runtime in case of dynamic language.

I am sure Scala developers will add many more reasons into this list, but being from Java background and ardent supporter of Java, I think Scala definitely got something to offer and following reasons make a lot of case for Java developers to learn Scala.



10 Reasons to learn Scala Programming Language

Here are some of the reasons I think Java programmers or per say any programmer should learn Scala:

1) Multi-Paradigm language
Scala is a bit different than Java, as it supports two programming paradigm: object-oriented programming (OOP) and functional programming (FP). For advancing in programming skill it's good to learn at least one language from different paradigm e.g. imperative, logical, functional and OOP, and Scala gives you a chance to explore both functional and oop together.

The Pragmatic Programmer book also advised you to learn a new programming language every year. Scala allows you to define types associated with both data attributes (with classes behaving like C++/Java classes) and behavior attributes (with traits corresponding to Java interfaces).

Just like in other functional programming languages, Scala functions are first-class (which means you can pass them around as values) and Scala also supports anonymous functions and currying (partial application of multi-argument functions).

This combination of features makes it possible to write Scala programs that are quite concise and elegant. Being multi-paradigm is one of the strongest selling points of Scala, which Java 8 has also attempted by introducing lambda expressions (see Java SE 8 New Features)  but it still a couple of steps behind. I think, Scala will always be more functional than Java but that's topic of another debate.



2) Interoperability with Java
In my opinion, Scala's choice of being inter-operable with Java is the best thing happen to Scala. Scala runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and can interoperate nicely with Java code. This means Scala developer can use Java libraries directly from Scala code.

Given, many Java developers are turning into Scala, this is the perfect way of leveraging their years of experience in real-world programming. It is also possible to call Scala code from Java and you can easily write part of your program in Scala and the rest in Java.

In short, Interoperability with Java gives Scala a huge potential to become mainstream, enterprise programming language, as so much of the world's code is written in Java and so many developers are working in Java around the world.


3) Best Practices and Patterns built-in language
One thing you might not know about Scala that it was originally developed at the Swiss university EPFL in an attempt to apply recent innovations in programming languages research to a language that can gain mainstream traction, much like Java.



Several of best practices and patterns are built into language itself e.g. val declares top-level immutability, which is much better than the overloaded final in Java, or const/read-only in C# with the weird rules associated with it.

Scala also offers closures, a feature that dynamic languages like Python and Ruby have adopted from the functional programming paradigm.


4) Expressiveness of language
When you compare Scala with Java as I did in my previous post about the difference between Scala and Java, Scala certainly scores big over Java. Scala is inherently very expressive. There’s also tons and tons of really beautiful and useful code written in Scala. This is attracting more and more Java developers to learn Scala, who like such beautiful code.

To give you an idea, here is the word count program written in both Java and Scala, you can see the difference in the expressiveness of language by yourself. Scala has achieved in just one line what Java has taken more than 10 lines to achieve.



Btw, things can be improved on Java side by using Java 8 features, which is not used in this example but still, Scala scores big over Java when it comes to concise and clean code.



5) Marketable
Which programmer doesn't want to be marketable? One reason for learning a new technology or framework is always a better job and career growth. Learning Scala will certainly make you more marketable.  Many companies are using or migrating to Scala these days, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Quora.

Given Scala's marketing as Scalable language, days are not far when the big Investment banks and Financial organizations will start looking Scala for their low latency solutions. Similar to the advice given in Effective Java, Twitter has already shared best practices to develop programs in Scala as Effective Scala.



The founders of Quora spent a couple of months building a Scala web framework in order to use Scala. Martin Odersky, the man behind Scala, is now behind the start-up Typesafe for supporting commercial Scala development. All things are going in right direction for Scala to grow as the first alternative to Java.


6) Statically typed language
In general, statically typed language like Java prevents programmers from doing bad things, while with a dynamic language like Python, you only know about a bad thing when you run the program.

Scala is best of both worlds. It feels like dynamic, but its strongly statically typed languages e.g. Haskell or Java. Scala compiler is really smart and uses type-inference up to full extent.

Scala provides type inference for variables and functions, much better than limited type inference in Java and C#. See Beginning Scala Programming to learn more about Scala language features.

10 reasons to learn Scala



8) Growing Framework e.g. Akka, Play, and Spark
One thing which you might know that Scala is growing and it's growing very well. Lots of good libraries, frameworks are coming around. Companies, who has started using Scala are also contributing to the recent growth of Scala as a mainstream language.

There are some nice Scala web frameworks out there, including Lift and Play. Akka, another Scala based concurrent framework has already established itself as toolkit and runtime for building highly concurrent, distributed, and fault tolerant event-driven applications on the JVM.

Scala is also been used in Big data space along with Apache Spark which has further fuelled its adoption by many Java developers interested in Big Data Space.




7) Growing Community
Along with language, Scala community is also growing and growing very fast. Lots of programmers, including Java developers, are joining Scala bandwagon. More and more framework, libraries are getting built on Scala.

More and more IDEs are started to support Scala syntax, much better support in Eclipse and IntelliJ. Great build tool support in SBT, Maven, and Ant. Well, Part of this is because of Scala's capability as being a language, which can as terse as many dynamic languages like python, at the same time can offer features like static typing, type-inference, a mix of functional programming and object-oriented programming.

In Recent surveys, Scala is also touted as number one alternative of Java. In my opinion, to grow Scala has the real alternative of Java, given Java 8 also has functional programming support, it has to attract more and more Java developers. Getting big organization like Twitter to adopt Scala, certainly helps the community, as they have more resources and influence.


9) Concise Syntax
Java has long been criticised for his verbose and boilerplate syntax. Though it makes Java more readable, much like English, Scala has set a new benchmark in being concise and readable at the same time. Scala compiler, known as scalac (remember javac) does more than you expect, it can generate toString(), equals(), hasCode() and other things for you. Consider two code snippets of same class written in Java and Scala and make your choice :

public class Book {
    private final String name;
    private final double price;
    public Star(String name, double price) {
        this.name = name;
        this.price = price;
    }
    @Override
    public int hashCode() {
        int hash = 7;
        hash = 23 * hash + Objects.hashCode(this.name);
        return hash;
    }
    @Override
    public boolean equals(Object obj) {
        if (obj == null) {
            return false;
        }
        if (getClass() != obj.getClass()) {
            return false;
        }
        final Test other = (Test) obj;
        if (!Objects.equals(this.name, other.name)) {
            return false;
        }
        if (Double.doubleToLongBits(this.price) != Double.doubleToLongBits(other.price)) {
            return false;
        }
        return true;
    }
    @Override
    public String toString() {
        return "Test{" + "name=" + name + ", price=" + price + '}';
    }
 
}

You can write the same thing, using Scala's case class as below :

case class Book(name: String, price: double)

Btw, you can also use Lombok library, one of the essential libraries for Java developers, to remove the boilerplate code related to getter, setter, equals, hashCode, and toString. It can automatically generate those for you.


10) Relative Easy to learn
For a Java developer learning a classical functional programming language like Haskell, or OCaml is rather difficult than Scala, In other words, Scala is relatively easy to learn because of its oop functionality.

While taking their time to learn Functional Programming, Java developer can still be productive in Scala by leveraging their existing knowledge of OOP. Like Java, Scala has clean syntax, nice libraries, good online documentation, and lots of people in the industry using it.

With growing community of Scala at forums, StackOverflow, it's not difficult to find an answer to any Scala questions, which adds to your learning experience.


That's all about Why Java programmer should learn Scala or some practical Reasons for learning Scala programming language. I am sure you will find many more reasons, once you start exploring it. Once you start learning Scala, I am sure you will LOVE IT. It not only got the cleaner OO code but also Functional capabilities, it feels dynamic (Like Python) but also has a static type system that can prevent you from doing bad things. If you decide to learn Scala in 2018, here are some of the useful resources for further learning

Further Learning
Beginning Scala Programming
Scala and Functional Programming for Beginners
Apache Spark with Scala 
Spark and Hadoop Developer Certification - Scala
5 Books to Learn Scala and Functional Programming

Thanks for reading this article so far. If you like Scala and find my reasons helpful then please share with your friends and colleagues. If you have any more reason to add into this list, feel free to drop a note. 

No comments :

Post a Comment