Tutorials about the Scala programming language.

An introduction to Akka Actors alvin July 19, 2019 - 10:32am
Table of Contents1 - An Akka “Hello, world” example2 - A second example3 - More examples4 - Where Akka fits in5 - Source code6 - Key points7 - See also

This is an excerpt from my book, Hello, Scala. In this lesson I’ll show two examples of applications that use Akka actors, both of which can help you get started with my larger “Alexa written with Akka” = Aleka application.

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An Akka “Hello, world” example

First, let’s look at an example of how to write a “Hello, world” application using Akka.

Writing a “Hello” actor

An actor is an instance of the class, and once it’s created it starts running on a parallel thread, and all it does is respond to messages that are sent to it. For this “Hello, world” example I want an actor that responds to “hello” messages, so I start with code like this:

Explaining Scala’s `val` function syntax alvin July 19, 2019 - 9:21am
Table of Contents1 - Background2 - Goals3 - Scala’s function syntax4 - Explaining the ERT syntax5 - Reading IRT function signatures6 - Key: Using return doesn’t feel right7 - Examples of function syntax using isEven8 - The REPL shows the explicit function syntax9 - We’re giving an anonymous function a name10 - isEven is an instance of Function111 - Conspiracy Theory: The function syntax has its root in Haskell12 - Summary13 - See also

This is an excerpt from my book on Functional Programming in Scala. It’s an appendix that “explains and explores” Scala’s function syntax.

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I wrote in the “Functions are Values” lesson that most developers prefer to use the def syntax to define methods — as opposed to writing functions using val — because they find the method syntax easier to read than the function syntax. When you write methods, you let the compiler convert them into functions with its built-in “Eta Expansion” capability. There’s nothing wrong with this. Speaking as someone who used Java for 15+ years, the def syntax was easier for me to read at first, and I still use it a lot.

Scala match/case expressions (syntax, examples)

Table of Contents1 - Scala match expressions2 - Aside: A quick look at Scala methods3 - Using a match expression as the body of a method4 - Handling alternate cases5 - Using if expressions in case statements6 - Even more ...

This is a lesson on Scala match/case expressions from my book, Hello, Scala.

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Scala match expressions

Scala has a concept of a match expression. In the most simple case you can use a match expression like a Java switch statement:

// i is an integer
i match {
    case 1  => println("January")
    case 2  => println("February")
    case 3  => println("March")
    case 4  => println("April")
    case 5  => println("May")
    case 6  => println("June")
    case 7  => println("July")
    case 8  => println("August")
    case 9  => println("September")
    case 10 => println("October")
    case 11 => println("November")
    case 12 => println("December")
    // catch the default with a variable so you can print it
    case _  => println("Invalid month")

As shown, with a match expression you write a number of case statements that you use to match possible values. In this example I match the integer values 1 through 12. Any other value falls down to the _ case, which is the catch-all, default case.

Scala: What do “effect” and “effectful” mean in functional programming?

Table of Contents1 - Effects are related to monads2 - Not a side effect, but the main effect3 - Effectful functions return F[A] rather than [A]4 - Summary5 - Notes

When you get started with functional programming (FP) a common question you’ll have is, “What is an effect in functional programming?” You’ll hear advanced FPers use the words effects and effectful, but it can be hard to find a definition of what these terms mean.

Experiment with passing Scala methods as function parameters, signature overloading alvin July 14, 2019 - 1:24pm

As a brief note to self, I was experimenting with passing methods as parameters to Scala functions — in particular trying to overload those method signatures to see what would work and what would not work — and I came up with these simple function signature overloading tests:

My Scala Sed project: More features, returning strings

Table of Contents1 - Basic use2 - Using a Map3 - Match expressions4 - Sed limitations5 - My Sed project6 - Bonus: Factories and HOFs

My Scala Sed project is still a work in progress, but I made some progress on a new version this week. My initial need this week was to have Sed return a String rather than printing directly to STDOUT. This change gave me more ability to post-process a file. After that I realized it would really be useful if the custom function I pass to Sed had two more pieces of information available to it:

  • The line number of the string Sed passed to it
  • A Map of key/value pairs the helper function could use while processing the file

Note: In this article “Sed” refers to my project, and “sed” refers to the Unix command-line utility.

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Basic use

In a “basic use” scenario, this is how I use the new version of Sed in a Scala shell script to change the “layout:” lines in 55 Markdown files whose names are in the files-to-process.txt file:

Scala shell scripts hang indefinitely on MacOS 10.13 and 10.14 (won’t run) alvin July 9, 2019 - 8:10pm

If you run into a problem where a Scala shell script won’t run on MacOS — it hangs indefinitely without doing anything — hopefully this bug report will help. The solution is to change this line at the beginning of the Scala shell script:

exec scala -savecompiled "$0" "$@"

to this:

exec scala -nocompdaemon -savecompiled "$0" "$@"

I just had this problem with Scala 2.12.x and Java 8 running on MacOS 10.14.4, and I can confirm that adding -nocompdaemon solved the problem for me.

A Scala method to write a list of strings to a file alvin July 6, 2019 - 7:50pm

As a brief note today, here’s a Scala method that writes the strings in a list — more accurately, a Seq[String] — to a file:

def writeFile(filename: String, lines: Seq[String]): Unit = {
    val file = new File(filename)
    val bw = new BufferedWriter(new FileWriter(file))
    for (line <- lines) {