Book Chat:Scala for the Impatient

Scala for the Impatient is a reaction to the heft of Programming Scala. It recognized that Programming in Scala was a great resource but weighed in at 800+ pages and that it may make a better reference than introductory text. Scala for the Impatient attempts to capture the bulk of the value at a much slimmer 340 pages. Having not read Programming in Scala I can’t say if it captures the bulk of the value, but it does provide an amazing introduction to Scala.

The each chapter is labeled with a Scala level to give you an idea of how complex the topic is. This helped me since I could see that the chapter on implicits was labeled L3, the most complex level, and that most of the time you don’t need a feature like this. That helped signal to me that it was okay that I didn’t fully understand how to apply the topic right after reading, while I’m still a relative newcomer to Scala. I haven’t wanted to write any implicits so far, since I haven’t been writing anything too complex. But, it still helped when I saw some implicits in library code I’ve gone into; I have been able to follow along, although I don’t fully understand why the code needed to be put together that way.

I had issues with some of the exercises. There were some that asked you to think about why something was written in a particular manner, but there wasn’t an answer key, so it was impossible to know if you were right. I went searching on the internet and found people discussing the exercises but I would have appreciated a more authoritative and definitive answer. There were also places where it asked you to implement something, where it clearly meant for you to use some particular feature that was discussed in the chapter, but it wasn’t evident how you would implement it using those features.

I really enjoyed the ability to download of all of the example code, and code snippets from the examples. It made it easy to experiment with the example code and see what happens, without having to copy it all over. The errata was helpful, but there was a lot of it and it interrupts the flow of reading the book, but it doesn’t reduce the value of the book. Overall, out of the things I did to start learning Scala it was the most comprehensive. It has been my biggest time investment in deliberate learning for Scala so far and I’m glad I did it. I’ve got a copy of Programming Scala which I intend to get to eventually, but its significant heft may make it wait for a while before I dig into that to give a comparison.

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