How to use higher-order functions with Option (instead of match expressions)

I originally wrote a long introduction to this article, but I decided to keep that introduction for the second article in this series. For this article I’ll just say:

  • idiomatic Scala code involves never using null values
  • because you never use nulls, it’s important to become an expert at using Option, Some, and None
  • initially you may want to use match expressions to handle Option values
  • as you become more proficient with Scala and Options, you’ll find that match expressions tend to be verbose
  • becoming proficient with higher-order functions (HOFs) like map, filter, fold, and many others are the cure for that verbosity

Given that background, the purpose of this article is to show how to use HOFs with Option values rather than match expressions.

Scala/Java: How to write a pattern that matches a minimum to maximum number of specified characters

If you’re using Java or Scala and need to write a pattern that matches a range of characters, where those characters occur between a minimum and maximum number of times in the pattern, the following example shows a solution I’m currently using.

The idea is that the pattern "[a-zA-Z0-9]{1,4}" means, “Match a string that has only the characters a-z, A-Z, and 0-9, where those characters occur a minimum of one time and a maximum of four times.” The following tests in the Scala REPL shows how this works:

A Scala shell script to insert text before a matching pattern

I don’t remember exactly why I wrote this Scala shell script, but if I remember right I was having a problem getting sed to work properly, so I wrote this little script to insert an Amazon Kindle “break” tag before each <h1> tag in an HTML file:

Scala: How to extract parts of a String that match regex patterns alvin July 10, 2017 - 8:32am

This is an excerpt from the Scala Cookbook (partially modified for the internet). This is Recipe 1.9, “Extracting Parts of a String that Match Patterns.”


You want to extract one or more parts of a Scala String that match the regular-expression patterns you specify.


Define the regular-expression (regex) patterns you want to extract, placing parentheses around them so you can extract them as “regular-expression groups.” First, define the desired pattern:

How to find regex patterns in Scala strings

This is an excerpt from the Scala Cookbook (partially modified for the internet). This is Recipe 1.7, “Finding Patterns in Scala Strings.”


You need to determine whether a Scala String contains a regular expression pattern.

A good reason to use sealed traits and classes in Scala

This documentation page shares a good reason to use “sealed” traits and classes: When you created sealed traits, the compiler can easily tell all of the subtypes of your class or trait, and as just one benefit, you don’t need to add a default, “catch-all” case in your Scala match expressions.

This is a page from my book, Functional Programming, Simplified

Recursion: How to Write a ‘sum’ Function

With all of the images of the previous lesson firmly ingrained in your brain, let’s write a sum function using recursion!

Sketching the sum function signature

Given a List of integers, such as this one:

val list = List(1, 2, 3, 4)

let’s start tackling the problem in the usual way, by thinking, “Write the function signature first.”

Scala best practice: How to use the Option/Some/None pattern

Table of Contents1 - Problem2 - Solution3 - Returning an Option from a method4 - Getting the value from an Option5 - Using Option with Scala collections6 - Using Option with other frameworks7 - Using Try, Success, and Failure8 - Using Either, Left, and Right9 - Discussion10 - Don’t use the get method with Option11 - See Also12 - The Scala Cookbook

This is an excerpt from the Scala Cookbook (partially modified for the internet). This is Recipe 20.6, “Scala best practice: How to use the Option/Some/None pattern.”

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For a variety of reasons, including removing null values from your Scala code, you want to use what I call the Option/Some/None pattern. Or, if you’re interested in a problem (exception) that occurred while processing code, you may want to return Try/Success/Failure from a method instead of Option/Some/None.