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A-Z of Programming Languages: Scala

By Computerworld Australia

August 24, 2009

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The Scala programming language, which runs on the Java Virtual Machine, could become the preferred language of the modern Web 2.0 startup, according to a Twitter developer. Scala creator Martin Odersky says the name Scala "means scalable language in the sense that you can start very small but take it a long way."

Odersky says he developed the language out of a desire to integrate functional and object-oriented programming. This combination brings together functional programming's ability to build interesting things out of simple elements and object-oriented programming's ability to organize a system's components and to extend or adapt complex systems.

"The challenge was to combine the two so that it would not feel like two languages working side by side but would be combined into one single language," Odersky says. The challenge lay in identifying constructs from the functional programming side with constructs from the object-oriented programming side, he says.

Odersky lists the creation of the compiler technology as a particularly formidable challenge he faced in Scala's development. He notes that support of interoperability entailed mapping everything from Java to Scala, while another goal of the Scala developers was making the language fun to use.

"This is a very powerful tool that we give to developers, but it has two sides," Odersky says. "It gives them a lot of freedom but with that comes the responsibility to avoid misuse."

From Computerworld Australia
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