Scala – Complexity or Freedom of Choice?

Is Scala Too Complex?

Jessica Thornsby
Scala-Complexity-or-Freedom-of-Choice

Pro-Scala bloggers argue that Scala’s complexity can be attributed to its conciseness and the options it offers developers.

There has been some debate recently, as to whether Scala is “too
complex.”

One blogger, has recently theorised that the ‘complicated’
misconception, arises from the differing mindsets of the object
orientated programmer and the functional programmer. To a developer
familiar with object orientated languages, a functional language
like Scala will inevitably feel different and confusing.

He also writes that the shift necessary to get from object
orientated programming, to a functional style, is not actually as
daunting as it may seem: “In Java we use immutable objects when
programming for concurrency. We use anonymous inner classes to
simulate lambdas and closures. We use iterators and predicates to
simulate list comprehensions. We recognize these and other
functional concepts but implement them in roundabout ways because
there is no direct support for them in the Java language.” If
you’re a Java programmer, then maybe you’re already thinking in a
functional way, but are unaware of it. Far from being complex, he
views Scala as a useful new language for Java developers, allowing
them to transition to functional programming, without sacrificing
their object orientated skills or even leaving the JVM
platform.

Martin Odersky also makes the case for Scala. He acknowledges that some parts of
Scala may be complex – he calls some of the core libraries
“extremely intricate pieces of software” – but that, in terms of
user experience, Scala is “very simple to use.”

There is some evidence of Scala being used as a spring-board for
young programmers within an educational context. The Kojo desktop
based software application is a prime example: it targets children,
and is Scala-based. Kojo aims to help youngsters get to grips with
programming basics through creating computer art and animations,
and exploring geometry and algebra.

Odersky also argues that Scala’s supposed complexity, is really
just the freedom of choice. Although Scala has limited concepts,
those concepts are very general and orthogonal and can be combined
in a variety of ways. This can create the illusion of complexity,
by providing multiple routes to the same conclusion. Odersky also
claims that Scala’s conciseness can add to the notion of
complexity, since each line of Scala does more work “you could
argue it’s harder to understand than a more verbose language.”

The current release of Scala is 2.8.

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