Old embracing the new?

Spring meets Scala – the injection Spring needs?

Chris Mayer
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Ideas surrounding Spring’s Scala move surface – question is, can it help turn things round?

The last 12 months have been quite tumultuous for the Spring community. Changes at the top, notably the departure of Spring founder Rod Johnson, have left many wary of what the future holds.

This hasn’t however halted productivity at Springsource, with, but there are concerns that Spring at large isn’t doing enough to embrace burgeoning technologies or the changing enterprise world moving into 2013.

October’s announcement of Spring Scala allayed some of those fears however. After presenting ideas at SpringOne2GX and Devoxx, creator Arjen Poutsma has this week released further information behind the project, in a blogpost. So how does Spring Scala exactly work?

Poutsma tells us that the goal of the project is simple – to make it “easier to use the Spring Framework in Scala.” So this isn’t a project intent of bringing Scala developers to the realms of Spring, but focused on aiding Scala-intrigued Spring developers find a common ground.

Currently, a Spring developer can learn the ways of Scala, but it’s far from a simple process. Even if you do manage, there’s always teething problems with the Spring Framework being so focused on Java. Actually thinking in Scala and applying its concepts is an entirely different proposition and there wasn’t anything in place to help.

The creator adds that this project is for those “who want to try Scala out but do not want to leave their experience with Spring behind,” and to make “Spring a first-class citizen of the Scala language.”

It’s a lofty goal but an achievable one, if the early work is anything to go by. Poutsma has outlined two pressing goals for Spring Scala to get off the ground: wiring up Scala classes as Spring Beans (in both Scala and XML) and also providing Scala-friendly wrappers for Spring templates. The blogpost does an excellent job of explaining how both are achieved.

Poutsma is keen to point out that Spring Scala is a work in progress, and that these two features represent the beginnings of the project. A first milestone, available through the SpringSource repository or Maven, shows off what Spring Scala can do.

This project might inject something new and exciting into Spring, but Spring Scala isn’t exactly the big reinvention needed to keep its relevancy. Spring will always be entrenched in enterprise Java, and offering Scala now just doesn’t make much sense from their point of view.

This is more an admission that Scala’s inexorable rise meant Spring had to reach out and create a project surrounding it, with demand so high amongst its community. In the past two years, more and more companies are switching to Scala, so its natural to see this happen. It’s just slightly strange to see it happen after Rod Johnson left to join Typesafe’s Board of Directors. Perhaps it was in the works beforehand?

It’s an encouraging start for Spring Scala though, with many possibilities from here, and the team are interested in hearing your feature requests. If you’re intrigued by Spring Scala, head over to Github to find out more.

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