10 Reasons Java Developers Should Learn Scala

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Apr 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, Job Search Tips, Resume Tips

The Scala Programming Language uses a combination of object-oriented and functional programming in an integrated language. Its static type set prevents bugs in complex coding, while its JavaScript and JVM runtimes enable high-performing systems that enjoy access to a huge ecosystem of libraries. Why would a Java developer learn Scala? Some developers have to learn it as part of a new role, or your system architect may incorporate it into your existing toolset. There are other reasons it's useful to know.

Scala is one of the most powerful Java alternatives and replaces Groovy and Clojure as the Java Virtual Machine language of choice. Scala's multi-paradigm language has phenomenal functional programming idioms that Java developers love thanks to its use of multi-core CPU architecture, Scala retains the fluency and flexibility of a dynamic language such as Python, while remaining a  statically typed language that performs type checking (the process of verifying and enforcing the constraints of types) at compile-time as opposed to run-time.

Let's look at 10 of the most compelling reasons to learn Scala.

10 Reasons to Learn Scala Programming Language

1. Multi-Paradigm Language

Scala, unlike Java, supports both object-oriented programming (OOP) and functional programming (FP). Learning Scala gives developers a chance to stretch their programming skill because it combines logical, imperative, functional, and OOP methodologies. Scala lets you explore the best of functional and OOP toolsets. According to the Pragmatic Programmer, developers should learn at least one new programming language each year. Scala defines types of data attributes (classes behavior similar to C++/Java) and behavior attributes (for Java interfaces).

As a functional programming language, Scala functions can be passed as values. It also allows you to use anonymous functions and has other flexible features. That's why you can write Scala programs that are elegant, concise, and efficient. This multi-paradigm capability is one of Scala's major selling points that Java 8 has attempted to mimic with its creation of Iambda expressions. However, it has a long way to go to catch up to the fluid coding potential of Scala.

2. Interoperability with Java

Because Scala works with Java, there's no need to choose one over the other. You can use the best of both languages to accomplish what you need to do in your applications. Scala operates efficiently on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and integrates well with Java code. This makes it possible for a Scala developer to utilize Java libraries within the Scala code structure.

Because a lot of Java developers are discovering the flexibility of Scala, you would benefit from leveraging Scala's capability in your own development projects. By the way, you can also call Scala scripts with Java code as well as combine the two and write part of your program in Java and the rest in Scala. Basically, the interoperability provides an opportunity for Scala to go mainstream as Java has. 

3. Best Practices and Patterns

Scala was developed at a Swiss university called EPFL and was designed to incorporate innovations from multiple languages with the hope that it would one day gain mainstream appeal. Many of the best practices and patterns are embedded in the language. The val command declares top-level immutability, instead of the overloaded final used in Java, or const/read-only command in C# with its complex rules. In Scala, you can use closures, a feature previously only available in dynamic languages (Python, Ruby).

4. Expressiveness

Comparing Scala to Java, Scala has many superior traits. It's inherently expressive. Expressive languages allow more flexibility to create intuitive and useful code. Because of this, more and more Java developers are learning Scala and using it in their work. 

5. Marketable

Learning Scala increases your marketability. Hiring managers recognize its utility and the cutting edge vibe that Scala/Java applications represent. Moreover, many companies are migrating to Scala including LinkedIn, Twitter, and QuoraBecause Scala is so scalable, it's likely to appeal to fintechs and traditional financial organizations who value its low latency solutions. In fact, Twitter has already published best practices for its Scala development guidelines.

6. Statically Typed Language

 Java prevents programmers from making many inadvertent errors, which is an improvement over dynamic languages such as Python, which don't reveal problems until runtime. Scala has incorporated the best of both worlds. It flows like dynamic languages but has the statically typed features of languages like Haskell or Java. That's because Scala's compiler uses type-inference so expansively. Scala's type inference for functions and variables is superior to the limited type inference in C# or Java. 

7. Growing Framework

Scala is taking off in a big way.It has a multitude of appealing libraries, and its frameworks are rapidly evolving. Companies that implement Scala are publishing best practices and samples online, where other companies are learning to appreciate Scala's flexible infrastructure.

Elegant Scala web frameworks include Akka, Lift, and Play. Akka is a Scala-based framework that has become an established toolkit, providing a runtime used to create highly concurrent and fault-tolerant applications via JVM. Scala is represented in the big data space as a peer to Apache Spark, and this has fueled its adoption by many developers in that strata.

8. Growing Community

The Scala community is attracting Java developers due to the growing number of frameworks and libraries built on Scala. Additionally, more IDEs now support Scala syntax, which means better support for its integration on Eclipse and IntelliJ. Other useful build tool support is available on the Maven, SBT, and Ant. 

Part of Scala's appeal in the combination of terse language and expressive features such as static typing as well as type-inference. This elegant mix of FO and OOP is driving its surge in popularity.

According to recent surveys, Scala is valued as the number one Java alternative. Given that Java 8 now has FP support, Scala will attract even more developers looking for versatility.

9. Concise Syntax

One of the criticisms of Java has been its boilerplate syntax. It might make Java easier to follow, but it lacks elegance. On the other hand, Scala is concise without sacrificing functionality. The Scala compiler is called scalac and can generate equals(), toString(), hasCode() and other options. 

10. Relatively Easy to Learn

Java developers can learn Scala with greater ease than more traditional functional languages like oCaml or Haskell. Its OOP functionality is intuitive and therefore easier to retain and use.This also means you will probably make fewer mistakes and find Scala less frustrating and easier to implement in your applications.

Java developers leverage their familiarity with OOP syntax to get up and running in Scala quickly. Scala and Java both have clean syntax, versatile libraries, online support through communities, and documentation. Whatever has been holding you back from trying Scala, now is a great time to give it a try. Visit the online forums to see what everyone is talking about, and you too will soon appreciate the elegance of this language. It's easy to get help and find answers to many questions while you're learning.

When you're ready to contribute to the Scala community, contact ICS. We have plenty of opportunities waiting for people with your skills. If you want to start finding your perfect position, search our jobs today! What lucky company will be awesome enough to land you?

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