method

Scala style: Side-effect methods with no parameters should be declared with parentheses

As a note about Scala style, this Scala page strongly encourages that side-effect methods that takes no parameters should be declared with parentheses:

“However, this syntax (leaving off parentheses) should only be used when the method in question has no side-effects (purely-functional). In other words, it would be acceptable to omit parentheses when calling queue.size, but not when calling println() (or openGarageDoor()). This convention mirrors the method declaration convention given above.”

“Religiously observing this convention will dramatically improve code readability and will make it much easier to understand at a glance the most basic operation of any given method. Resist the urge to omit parentheses simply to save two characters!”

Explaining Scala’s `val` function syntax

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

Background

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.

A Java method that returns a random boolean value based on a probability

If you ever need a Java method that returns a boolean value based on a given probability, I can confirm that this method works:

/**
 * `probability` should be given as a percentage, such as
 * 10.0 (10.0%) or 25.5 (25.5%). As an example, if `probability` 
 * is 60% (60.0), 100 calls to this function should return ~60 
 * `true` values.
 * (Note that Math.random returns a value >= 0.0 and < 1.0.)
 */
static boolean getRandomBoolean(float probability) {
    double randomValue = Math.random()*100;  //0.0 to 99.9
    return randomValue <= probability;
}

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.

Scala FAQ: Can you use a question mark to end a method name?

Scala FAQ: Can you use a question mark to end a Scala method name?

Answer: Yes, you can. Just use an underscore character before the question mark. For instance, here’s a method named alive_?:

def alive_? = true

Another possible approach you can use is to use backtick characters around the method name, without using an underscore...

Some Java file utilities

As a bit of warning, this is some old Java code, but if you want to create your own Java file utilities (utility methods), this code might help you get started:

Implicit methods/functions in Scala 2 and 3 (Dotty extension methods)

Table of Contents1 - Scala 2: Create the method in an implicit class2 - Scala 3 (Dotty): Adding methods to closed classes with extension methods

Scala lets you add new methods to existing classes that you don’t have the source code for, i.e., classes like String, Int, etc. For instance, you can add a method named hello to the String class so you can write code like this:

"joe".hello

which yields output like this:

"Hello, Joe"

Admittedly that’s not the most exciting method in the world, but it demonstrates the end result: You can add methods to a closed class like String. Properly (tastefully) used, you can create some really nice APIs.

In this article I’ll show how you can create implicit methods (also known as extension methods) in Scala 2 and Scala 3 (Dotty).

Quotes from Clean Code

Back in 2013 I read the book Clean Code by Robert C. Martin, and in an effort to keep that book alive with me a little while longer, I decided to make my own “Cliffs Notes” version of the book on this page. One of my favorite notes from below is that a language named LOGO used the keyword to in the same way that Scala uses def, so a method named double would be defined as to double... instead of def double..., which seems like it would help developers name methods better.