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Scala for the Impatient 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321774095
ISBN-10: 0321774094
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cay S. Horstmann is principal author of Core Java™, Volumes I and II, Eighth Edition (Prentice Hall, 2008), as well as a dozen other books for professional programmers and computer science students. He is a professor of computer science at San Jose State University and a Java Champion.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (March 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321774094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321774095
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By K. Ferrio on April 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
For the Impatient:

There's really only one reason to read book reviews, and that's to find out if you should invest your time in another book. The short answer in this case is "Yes!" -- provided you are an experienced programmer seeking greater expressiveness -- and "Yes!" -- if you are have stared in bewilderment at Scala code which seemed like a Byzantine Type Zoo. This book will sort you out and put you on the path to productivity.

For the slightly less Impatient: (Ok, I'm going to run long. I really like the book.)

If you're not using Scala yet but you've been reading about it online, you've probably noticed a lot of discussion and speculation online about which companies and how many people are actually using Scala in production. It's clear that Scala is generating a lot of interest, and similarly clear that many people haven't quite figured out whether Scala is suitable for them and their projects. "Scala for the Impatient" can help you decide for yourself and your teams. And if you decide to adopt Scala for a project, this book will also help get you going.

Let's get one thing out of the way from the start. "Impatient" is not a euphemism for "unprepared." Bring your A-Game. This is a book for programmers who are serious about their craft. It has been intelligently written and carefully edited to enable experienced programmers to quickly learn what's essential and what's extra in Scala. There's no fluff here. If you have little patience for undifferentiated repetition and like the idea that every sentence matters, you're in the right place.

But impatience is not the book's only virtue. As I write this, a wave of Scala books is coming to market. I've read several, most of which I'm unlikely to pick up again.
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Format: Paperback
[Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.]

My background: I've been a Java developer for twelve years, and I've been following Scala for over four years. I'm not a fanatic about functional programming. My primary interest is in applying Scala in corporate production software development.

"Scala for the Impatient" is to Scala as a recipe book is to cooking. You're not going to learn the basics from it, and you won't learn much of the theory behind Scala, either. It's mostly a collection of short how-to items. The back cover says as much, that it "concisely shows developers what Scala can do and how to do it." In most cases there's no explanation of why something works, how the technique fits into Scala or into various programming styles, what the advantages and limitations are, when you'd want to use it, when you wouldn't want to use it, nor what alternatives you might have.

I have no idea what the purpose of the first few chapters was. They're disorganized grab-bags of mostly the extreme basics (how to call a method) with occasional advanced topics mixed in (implicit conversions and operator overloading, on page 5). If you have even a basic knowledge of Scala, you're not going to learn much until somewhere around Chapter 6. If you're a beginner, these early chapters will leave you totally confused. I'm stunned that the "def" keyword is simply used without any discussion. I'm even more stunned that on page 33 we get, "Alternatively, you could write a.filter(_ % 2 == 0).map(2 * _)" when there'd been no prior mention of closures or anonymous functions, much less the underscore shortcut syntax, nor any mention of the filter and map methods.
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Format: Paperback
I started learning scala "by fire", enjoying the succinctness of the language before really learning what any best practices are, or what it can do--just trial and error. I definitely am happy that I picked up this book, and have learned a lot reading through it. After reading, I feel a lot of refactoring coming on for some of the code I've written.

The information is pretty dense (as you might gather from the title), so I would recommend it for at least an intermediate level programmer. I was a bit shocked to see that the book is ~400 pages, being "for the impatient", but no complaints on the content.

The author continually states "if you're coming from C++/Java, this will make sense to you" or "this might confuse you...", so it seems at least partly aimed toward that audience, which probably makes sense. I felt like I was getting a brain dump customized for me as I read through it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are interested in learning Scala, there are several books and online resources that are useful, well-written, and worthwhile. Start with this one.

I came to this book through the free sample chapters PDF version available at the Typesafe blog. Those chapters cover the so-called "A level", what you need to productively use Scala as an application programmer. It is very useful, but the Scala level hierarchy separating "application programmers" and "library designers" isn't strict. There is a fair deal of overlap, so you will want to get the whole book.

The best thing this book has going for it is that it is well organized. It immediately jumps into just the things you want to know when picking up a new language, while leaving for later the stuff that is good to know but that would be distracting to someone figuring out the basic language. That is not to say those things are omitted, they just occur later in the book. It doesn't just present everything at once in an indistinguishable heap and leave you to sort it out; the author has done the useful work of ordering the material in a way that makes the most sense to someone learning Scala.

The examples are clear and relevant. This book assumes you already know how to program, and so omits both the "object oriented class design" tutorials and functional programming "quicksort with lists and pattern matching" examples you may be familiar with from other programming language pedagogical material, except to the extent required to demonstrate language features. It sticks to the point of teaching you Scala, not functional programming or OO programming. It also dispenses with any Scala or FP "evangelism"; if you are considering this book, presumably you have your own reasons for learning Scala and don't need to be reminded of its virtues.
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