Dipping my toes into Scala

One of the common threads of the Java conferences I’ve been to recently has been about what’s next for the Java platform. A significant majority of the speakers seem to think that the future really lies in other languages on top of the JVM. Quite a large part of me thinks that they may be right. Features introduced in Java 5 had quite a detrimental effect on not only the readability of the code (generics, I’m looking at you), but also its transparency (autoboxing is evil and pointless).

So, I’ve dipped my toes in Ruby and, apart from the toe-curlingly embarrassing fanboy support, really can’t get on with dynamic types. I like defining a contract for my method, along with what sort of things it accepts and what sort of thing it returns. So, Scala may well be the next language I’m looking for. My appetite was first whetted by some of the talks at No Fluff Just Stuff last year, and again by Ted Neward at QCon this year. Unfortunately, Ted’s still yet to make his slides available on QCon’s site, but there is an article on IBM’s developerworks site with the same title as his talk; The busy Java developer’s guide to Scala.

To that end, the first thing to do is to get a text editor that recognises the syntax. My IDE of choice, IntelliJ, won’t have Scala support until version 8 by the look of it, so it’s back to my text editor of choice, TextMate. Sure enough, after 2 minutes of punting around the net, I find that this kind soul has put together a TextMate bundle to add Scala syntax highlighting and a few shortcut keys.

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