Getting Started with Scala Programming

Whether you’re opting for Simplilearn’s Full-Stack Web Developer Master’s Program or our Data Science course, you need to learn a programming language best equipped to work with Big Data. Welcome to the world of Scala, the high-end programming language that can outdo the performance of other available programming languages!

What is Scala?

The term Scala is a combination of the words ‘scalable’ and ‘language,’ denoting one of the most scalable programming languages in the computing world. Visualized by Martin Odersky and his team in 2001, Scala had its first public release in 2004 and was modified for the .Net framework in the same year. It was released as version 2.0 in March 2006, with the most recent version (2.13.1) released in June 2019.

As a compiler-based programming language, Scala is fast and efficient. Its advantage lies in its capability to run on the JVM (Java virtual machine). This makes it possible for both the Java and Scala stacks to be seamlessly integrated. 

Scala language is being developed actively, as is evident from the number of contributors (450) on the GitHub Scala repository and is being used to develop several scalable concurrent applications. 

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Scala Programming: An Introduction

Scala programming was conceived as a general-purpose language that combines the concepts of both functional and object-oriented programming languages. What’s more, it overcomes the problems of other languages and integrates into the existing code of the JVM. Thus, Scala works well with the existing Java code and libraries without the need for configuration. 

When you write your Scala code, you need not start from scratch, as it works with your existing Java code stack! When you compile your Scala code, using the Scala compiler scalac, your compiled classes are converted to byte code, easily understood, and run by the JVM. This language interoperability with Java makes Scala programming very useful.

Scala and Java

Scala may be considered an upgraded version of Java, as you use all of the Java libraries in Scala. Both Scala and Java are indispensable developer skillsets today. While Scala is very similar to Java, it also has some features that distinguish it from Java and other programming languages in several ways, which makes it more popular. 

Scala has a simple syntax, is statically type, does not require rewriting, and is concise and relatively error-free. Scala requires fewer lines of code when compared to Java, which is dense in boilerplate codes. This means that even one bug is difficult to detect in Java, whereas, in Scala, a bug can easily be detected and eliminated. 

Scala’s high scalability is favored for backend operations. It can work in a multi-architecture ecosystem, with concurrent and synchronized processing. This makes it a big data favorite, compared to many other programming languages. In Java, you have many lines of code. When working with big data, both Java and Scala lend themselves to using Hadoop. If using Spark, however, the only language you can work with is Scala.

Features of Scala Programming Language

Scala has many features that make it different from other languages, which is why developers are queuing to learn Scala programming language. These features and advantages include:

  • Ecosystem. Scala programming language is supported by many tools and frameworks in concurrency, for various implementations. For instance: Apache Spark for big data, Apache Kafka for high throughput messaging system, and Play framework for building web apps.
  • Extensible language. Scala supports multiple language constructs that can be added to Scala as libraries. Most importantly, Scala also interpolates with the JRE (Java runtime environment).
  • Allows the creation of DSL. Scala has several built-in features such as ‘implicit’ and ‘overloaded operators’ that enables you to create your domain-specific language (DSL) without language proficiency at an expert level.
  • Object-oriented. Every value used in Scala is saved as an object by default. So first-class objects and anonymous functions are supported in Scala.
  • Functional programming. Scala offers a lightweight syntax for creating higher-order functions (i.e., you can pass a function as an argument to another function). 
  • Concurrent and synchronized processing. Scala allows you to write the codes in an immutable manner for synchronized and concurrent processing.
  • Statically typed. In Scala, the process of verifying and enforcing the constraints of types is inferred at compile time automatically. 
  • Interoperability. Both Scala and Java have a shared runtime environment that allows a user to move between them for execution in both environments. While Scala can be executed into existing Java projects, all classes of Java SDK can be used by Scala as well. So there is no need to give up on existing Java libraries, as Scala enables the mixing of the Java Code. Also, with the Scala libraries, a user can customize Java classes. 
  • No Semicolon. Scala does not use a semicolon after every statement. Instead, the newline character is used as the separator.
  • Big data use. Scala is the most widely used language by big data developers because of its scalability on the JVM. Use cases of Spark with Scala include Alibaba and Netflix.

Prerequisites to Learn Scala Programming

As Scala programming works in sync with Java, you can master Scala in the shortest possible learning curve if you know the Java syntax. Learning Scala, essentially, adds to the arsenal of the Full Stack Java Developer.

Requirements are:

  • Beginner level Java knowledge (for instance, object-oriented programming with Java: what are variables, loops in Java, arrays in Java, how do you create an object, using collection and thread in Java). 
  • Basic software knowledge to install an updated version of JDK, or Eclipse if not downloading Scala.

However, even if you do not know Java but are familiar with other programming languages like C, C++, or Python, then you can master Scala programming.

Implement Scala on the command line; use Scala inside NetBeans, Eclipse, or IntelliJ.

Advantages of Scala Programming Language

As a developer, you may be asking: 

  • “Why learn Scala?” 
  • “When I already know Java, do I need to learn Scala programming language?”
  • “How can I use Scala?”
  • “Will Scala help me in data science?”
  • “How does Scala strengthen my backend developing skills?”
  • “Do major companies use Scala?”

So here is a run-through of some of the advantages of Scala programming language over many others, and why you should learn Scala:

  • Easy to learn. Scala is similar to other languages like Java, C, C++, which makes learning Scala almost effortless, especially for Java developers.
  • It contains the best features of various languages. Scala includes some of the best features of other languages, which makes it easy to use and be more productive.
  • Fast. Scala is faster than some other languages like Ruby, Python, and node.js.
  • Close integration with Java. As the Scala compiler can run on the JVM, using its frameworks, libraries, and tools, it works interoperably with Java—a plus for MEAN stack development
  • App development for web and desktop. The ability of Scala to compile to JavaScript and JVM bytecode makes a web app and desktop development simpler.
  • Used by companies working with big data. Many big companies have moved most of their codes to Scala from some other languages because of its scalability, concurrency, and ability to lend itself to backend operations. Companies using Scala include Apple, Twitter, Walmart, Netflix, LinkedIn, Meetup.com, Google, Amazon, IBM, and Autodesk.

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Applications of Scala

Wondering where you can use Scala and what you can build with it? Well, Scala is a powerful programming language that supports many functionalities, including:

  • Android applications and API
  • Messaging apps
  • Desktop applications
  • Big data analysis with Apache Spark
  • Domain-specific language 
  • Data streaming applications
  • Concurrent and distributed data processing
  • Real-time data streaming using the Spark framework
  • Batch data processing and parallel data processing
  • Front and back ends of web applications 
  • Use with Hadoop / Map/Reduce programs
  • AWS Lambda function
  • Use with ML at large-scale to build complex algorithms

Scope of Scala

Scala is in prolific use for enterprise applications. The steep growth in the implementation of Scala has resulted in a high demand for Scala expertise. Despite being a late starter, Scala has emerged as one of the most robust languages for high productivity, and big companies are implementing Scale in their architecture. 

Why Should You Learn Scala Programming?

With Scala job opportunities high in data science, developing, and big data markets, the salary structures are also getting better and better. Whether you’re a programming newbie or a seasoned developer looking to master a fast language that combines the best features of most languages, make Scala your choice.

With Scala, you can reap the advantages of working in different environments and ensure your developer skill sets include the best of programming languages. Scala proficiency not only adds to your CV but also helps you boost your salary prospects in a fast-paced learning environment.

Learn and master the basic concepts of Scala such as variables, strings, and loops in Simplilearn’s online Scala training course, which will enable you to utilize its robust, simple, and powerful performance features to the fullest.

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