To be a programmer is to develop a carefully managed relationship with error

“To be a programmer is to develop a carefully managed relationship with error. There’s no getting around it. You either make your accommodations with failure, or the work will become intolerable.”

~ Ellen Ullman (via this tweet)

This quote makes me think of all those years of exception-handling with Java. I never knew there was a better way to handle errors, so I developed a strategy of letting my exceptions bubble up to the controller level (as in model/view/controller), where I would deal with them. These days I know I can use Option/Some/None in Scala, as well as Try/Success/Failure.

Flutter error: Unhandled Exception: MissingPluginException(No implementation found for method canLaunch on channel plugins...

If you get a Flutter error like this one:

Unhandled Exception: MissingPluginException(No implementation found 
for method canLaunch on channel plugins.flutter.io/url_launcher)

fear not, I get it about once a week. For me it happens every time I add a new plugin to my Flutter project, and then forget to stop my application and restart it. Either that, or you might be working from the command line and forgot to run flutter pub get.

Usually what happens in my workflow is:

A Dart Future/then/catchError example

When I was trying to debug a problem that I thought was related to Flutter’s SharedPreferences library, I ended up rewriting a preferences method to use code like this rather than the normal approach:

Future<SharedPreferences> fPrefs = SharedPreferences.getInstance();
fPrefs.then((value) {rez = value.getBool(KEY_ENABLE_NOTIFICATIONS) ?? false; })
   .catchError((e) {
       debugPrint("===== ERROR: ${e.error}");
       return 60;
return rez;

While that ended up being a waste of time, the benefit of my side excursion is that I get to show this example of how to use then and catchError with a Dart future. So if you wanted to see a Dart Future/then/catchError example, I hope this is helpful.

Scala/Java: How to convert a stack trace to a string for printing with a logger

As a quick note, I just got a little bit better about logging stack traces when writing Java or Scala code. In Scala I used to get the text from a stack trace and then log it like this:

// this works, but it's not too useful/readable

In that code, getStackTrace returns a sequence, which I convert to a String before printing it.

Java: A Java list `tail` function (for ArrayList, LinkedList, etc.)

As a brief note today, I was working on a Java/Android application recently, and I needed a “tail” function when I was working on a Java list. What I mean by that is that Scala has a tail function that returns all elements of the list except for the head element, like this:

scala> val x = List(1,2,3,4)
x: List[Int] = List(1, 2, 3, 4)

scala> x.tail
res1: List[Int] = List(2, 3, 4)  //head element removed

and I wanted the same thing in Java.

Functional error handling in Scala

Because functional programming is like algebra, there are no null values or exceptions. But of course you can still have exceptions when you try to access servers that are down or files that are missing, so what can you do? This lesson demonstrates the techniques of functional error handling in Scala.

The `f` string interpolator does not work with Dotty (Scala 3)

If you happen to be using Dotty (Scala 3) and find that the f string interpolator isn’t working, it’s a known bug. (It was implemented with a macro, and the old, experimental macro system has been dropped.) I’m writing this in January, 2019; I don’t know when it will work again. You can use the Java/Scala String.format method until it’s fixed:

val pi = scala.math.Pi
println( "%1.5f".format(pi) )
An Effective Java note on reusing existing Exception classes alvin October 29, 2018 - 11:48am

I just read a short chapter in the book Effective Java, and realized I was doing something pretty dumb in my own code by always creating my own custom exceptions instead of using other exceptions already intended to be reused in the Java API.

Some Scala Exception ‘allCatch’ examples

At the time of this writing there aren’t many examples of the Scala Exception object allCatch method to be found, so I thought I’d share some examples here.

In each example I first show the "success" case, and then show the "failure" case. Other than that, I won’t explain these, but hopefully seeing them in the REPL will be enough to get you pointed in the right direction: