Is Scala Right for You?

Overview, Benefits & Case Studies

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What is Scala?

Scala, which is short for Scalable Language and first appeared in 2004, is a programming language invented by Martin Odersky. Scala is compiled to Java bytecode and executed using a Java virtual machine (JVM).

Scala has become one of the most popular multi-purpose programming languages in use today. A range of companies are using it to build their software infrastructure, whether in relation to consumer products or their own in-house tech stacks. Its mix of flexibility, concision, and Java compatibility has made Scala particularly popular among businesses that rely on distributed architecture and require easily-scalable apps.

One of the big reasons that many large companies, including Netflix, the Guardian, Twitter, Duolingo, Zalando, and others, have moved over to Scala is because the code is designed in such a way as to enable fluid transition. It’s a great option for businesses that want to change their existing software-base but are worried about functionality and speed issues.

Thinking about using Scala?

Scala is a versatile language that shores up many of the inefficiencies and shortcomings of Java.

It’s been used to build everything from streaming apps to desktop enterprise software. If you’re looking for a more flexible, scalable language to develop.

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Benefits of Scala

Scala has many advantages over other programming languages. From a business point-of-view, these can lead to a myriad of benefits, including higher levels of efficiency, a reduction in software creation time, and lower outsourced development costs
Here’s a quick rundown:


Hybrid function and object orientation

One of Scala’s main benefits is its combination of function-oriented and object-oriented programming paradigms.


Syntactic flexibility

Scala syntax isn’t as strict as some other languages, which is beneficial in regards to both development and testing. The syntax is also much more concise compared to Java, which can mean long-term efficiency gains for businesses.


Versatile Language

Scala can be used to build a wide variety of programs, including apps, games, software-as-as-service, databases, and more. Developers have access to an array of advanced features that leverages the JVM.


Java interoperability

Scala is compatible with Java (it is compiled into Java Byte Code), which means that developers can fully leverage their Java libraries and the Java SDK. It provides many features that are lacking in Java, such as lazy evaluation and currying.


Popular language with extensive documentation

Scala is a relatively easy language to learn. Comprehensive documentation and a large community of users make it an excellent new option for developers. This is important for businesses when evaluating costs. It’s also worth remembering that this ease-of-use isn’t provided at the expense of functionality. Scala has a very “mature” backend.


Simpler development and testing

Because Scala provides much of the same functionality as Java, but with fewer lines of code, it’s generally easier to create and troubleshoot programs. It’s also possible to write programs very quickly in Scala. Even when compared to languages like Python, the comparatively low effort required to maintain and test Scala programs almost always makes it the better choice.


Possibly the best Java alternative

Scala was built as an alternative to Java. It provides virtually all the same capabilities without unnecessary restrictions. Developers can take advantage of cleaner code and a more robust testing environment.


Easy to switch from Java

Transitioning tech infrastructure from Java to Scala is straightforward, especially with ZIO. Andre Kenji of Duolingo said, “I personally thought it would be harder for me and for other engineers to learn Scala and to get going but it was a lot easier than we anticipated.”


Fewer runtime bugs

The Scala compiler will identify most errors. Developers that pass the compilation phase can be reasonably sure that a program
is bug-free. The unit testing framework is also very user-friendly, making the process
of writing tests to pick up on common logic errors a straightforward one.

Who is using Scala?

A large number of well-known brands and companies use Scala. It’s particularly possible with dev teams that leverage distributed systems and require a language that will prevent issues in the context of an ever-increasing code-base.

Here are four of the biggest companies using Scala:

Netflix was drawn to Scala because of its Java interoperability and capacity for designing machine learning programs, which are increasingly forming part of Netflix’s core service.

Most of the Netflix platform is built using Scala, including its APIs, recommendations engine, and search algorithms. Netflix uses a distributed architecture, and Scala has proven extremely useful as a multi-purpose programming language across separate development groups. 

Twitter makes use of multiple programming languages, including Ruby for front-end tasks.

Scala, however, has proven effective at handling long-running processes like message queuing. Engineers at Twitter have praised the “idiomatic” nature of Scala, praising its flexibility and straightforward syntax.Scala has enabled Twitter to develop and test new features quickly. And while onboarding for new staff can be a relatively long process, resources spent on training are promptly recouped due to the speed with which developers can create new apps.

Zalando, one of the world’s biggest shoe retailers, takes a somewhat unique approach to software creation. It allows employees to write programs, which form a distributed system, in whatever languages they choose. Scala, however, is one of the core languages. 

One engineer lists types, function composition, referential transparency, and monad transformers as standout features of Scala. Scala also allowed Zalanda to leverage its extensive experience with JVM.

Airbnb took advantage of Scala to help overcome one of its major hurdles: financial tracking and reporting. Building a system to process hundreds of thousands of daily financial transactions was always going to be an issue. 

Scala’s unique properties, including its static type system, support for lazy evaluation, and capacity for troubleshooting, has allowed Airbnb to deal with large amounts of data and roll out new functionality quickly.

Thinking About Developing With Scala? Get in touch with one of the biggest Scala Development Company

As you can probably guess by the name, at Scalac, we’re passionate about Scala.
If you’re thinking about transitioning to new architecture, looking for custom software developers, or putting together an outsourced team, we can help.

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