Scala vs Java: Difference Between Scala & Java [2021]

Scala is a type-safe JVM (Java Virtual Machine) language launched by Martin Odersky in 2003. It combines both object-oriented and functional programming paradigms into a concise and logical high-level language. Scala is sometimes viewed as an attempt to create a better version of Java, and rightly so. While developing Scala, the main focus remained on eliminating Java’s limitations that made it tedious and stringent. Naturally, there’s a notable difference between Scala and Java’s syntax and paradigms. 

Today we’ll take a more in-depth look into Scala’s unique aspects by pitting it against Java and exploring the differences between Scala and Java. 

Scala vs. Java

What is Scala?

As we mentioned earlier, Scala is a general-purpose programming language that includes the best of both worlds – OOP and functional programming. Since Scala was built for the JVM platform, its source code is designed to be compiled into Java bytecode so that the code generated can run efficiently on the JVM. The name Scala is a blend of the words “scalable” and “language,” meaning that it can scale according to users’ growing demands. 

Scala is a statically typed language that is based on Java. Thus, anyone who’s well-versed with Java’s syntax will find it pretty easy to learn Scala.

What is Java?

Java is an object-oriented, class-based, general-purpose programming language developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems. It is multi-platform compatible and follows the WORA (write once, run anywhere) principle. This means that once compiled; Java code can run smoothly on any platform that supports Java without needing to be recompiled. Java’s syntax heavily draws from C and C++.

Java is one of the most acclaimed programming languages globally, especially for developing client-server applications. 

Scala vs. Java: The core differences between Scala and Java

Here are some of the most significant differences between Scala and Java:

Code quality and complexity 

Java is verbose. When writing Java code, you need to write long-form code even for simple and routine tasks. This is not the case with Scala that is built for writing concise code. Although Scala programming is slightly more complicated than Java, one line of Scala code can easily replace twenty lines of “simple” Java code. Thus, Scala allows developers to write concise and compact code. However, Java is more beginner-friendly with an easy learning curve as compared to Java.

Type

While Java is dynamically-typed, Scala is statically-typed. The main drawback of a dynamically typed language is that you can never be 100% sure if your code is entirely devoid of bugs until you test it for multiple scenarios. This usually leads to severe defects in code that only surface when the code is in production.

Read: Java Project Ideas & Topics

Structures

Though Scala shares many similarities with Java, especially on the syntax front, it has many structures that Java lacks. For example, Scala supports automatic type inference and case classes. Besides, Scala has a structured nature that can be converted into a domain-specific language (DSL). Hence, you can customize Scala to suit the specific requirements of your projects. 

Read on: Scala Interview Questions

Concurrency model

Developers using Java must follow the conventional thread-based concurrency model. This approach splits the program into several concurrently running tasks during execution. Contrary to this, Scala uses the actor model wherein you can define each object as an actor with unique behavior and mailbox. This is how Scala simplifies the thread communication and control, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the process.

Interoperability

Scala and Java are interoperable, which means you can call Java functions directly inside the Scala code. However, calling one language’s functions in another’s code may get a little complicated since both Scala and Java have certain unique programming aspects. Both languages implement interfaces, collections, annotations, and other features quite differently. 

Tools and frameworks

Being a predecessor of Scala, Java is more mature than Scala. It has a more extensive range of tools, packages, and IDEs to cater to a host of development operations such as Eclipse, Jenkins, Apache Spark, Android Studio, etc. Scala is still emerging and encouraging developers to create new Scala-based tools and frameworks. Some of the most popular Scala tools include SBT, Gradle, ScalaTest, ScalaCheck, Scalaz, etc.

Also Read: Build your Career with Currying in Scala

Conclusion

Overall, Scala and Java are two excellent programming languages with distinct strengths and limitations. Both Scala and Java have a broad user base and can be used for various programming tasks. The key to unlocking Scala or Java’s full potential is to understand which language’s best aspects will match your project requirements.

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