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Scala is Unfit for Serious Development

Updates: 1. I do love Scala as proven by this blog 2. I’m critical of the things I love 3. I’m ok with a language that is marketed as a research language, I’m not ok if this language markets itself as post functional, the next big thing and a Java successor.

Update 2: Community response as expected: Everything is fine, personal attacks, move on. How sad. Sorry, shouldn’t have written this as pk11 pointed out.

Scala is Unfit for Serious Development (where serious means you want to make money from it, compared to a hobby). Fact. Because it’s object oriented? No. Because it’s functional? No. Because of the complex type system? No. Because of the love of symbols over words? No. It’s unfit because the developers and the community are unwilling. Since one week I haven’t written one productive line of code, but have been stuck in 2.8 version hell. One little upgrade due to a bug in a library put me into this hell trying to get the code running again. The major points are:

  1. The developers are interested in language research and writing papers, not in making a language for real development
  2. The version hell that is 2.8 – calling this version 2.8.0 is deceptive. As Python (3000) or Ruby (2.0) this should have been a major version called 3.0
  3. The developers do not care about binary compatibility, deprecated, soft migration or API compatibility. Things are changed on a whim – from one RC to the next, and they change major parts of the language/libraries in point releases
  4. They remove and add classes just as they see fit
  5. The community loves cutting edge. Instead of fixing bugs they upgrade to all new released RCs – so have you. It’s called cutting edge for a reason: You’ll cut yourself. And it’s called bleeding edge because you will bleed.

In 15 years of Java I never had those problems. I could focus on writing production code.

The sad thing is: There is no alternative. No statically typed, functional, object oriented language with enough libraries to get going. Would love to use C# if it’s not from MS. Due to no other options I will stay with Scala (Clojure with static types would be heaven [edit] or with x:String instead of #^String x). A sad day.

Thanks to @pk11 and @debasishg for their help and patience.

From Martin Odersky – see comment below:

Wow, what a controversial posting, and what an avalanche of reposes. Let me just
clarify some points.

1. 2.8 is a difficult release, on the order of Python 3 vs the 2.x series. We are almost there.

2. RCs are by definition bleeding edge, and unfit for serious development. Wait until 2.8 final is out — I expect that to happen within the week.

3. “Scala’s developers are interested in language research and writing papers, not in making a language for real development.” That one you got totally wrong. In fact I am about to take a leave from university and found a startup to do commercial Scala support. I am taking some of the key Scala developers with me.

4. Binary compatibility: Yes, it’s a tricky issue. I have said in the past that we will address this issue for releases from 2.8 onwards. And that’s still the plan.

About the author

stephan Stephan Schmidt has been working with internet technologies for the last 20 years. He was head of development, consultant and CTO and is a speaker, author and blog writer. He specializes in organizing and optimizing software development helping companies by increasing productivity with lean software development and agile methodologies. Want to know more? All views are only his own. You can find him on Google +

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