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Programming Scala

Cover of Programming Scala by Dean Wampler... Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  1. Programming Scala
    1. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
    2. A Note Regarding Supplemental Files
    3. Foreword
    4. Preface
      1. Welcome to Programming Scala
      2. Conventions Used in This Book
      3. Using Code Examples
      4. Safari® Books Online
      5. How to Contact Us
      6. Acknowledgments
    5. 1. Zero to Sixty: Introducing Scala
      1. Why Scala?
      2. Installing Scala
      3. For More Information
      4. A Taste of Scala
      5. A Taste of Concurrency
      6. Recap and What’s Next
    6. 2. Type Less, Do More
      1. In This Chapter
      2. Semicolons
      3. Variable Declarations
      4. Method Declarations
      5. Inferring Type Information
      6. Literals
      7. Tuples
      8. Option, Some, and None: Avoiding nulls
      9. Organizing Code in Files and Namespaces
      10. Importing Types and Their Members
      11. Abstract Types And Parameterized Types
      12. Reserved Words
      13. Recap and What’s Next
    7. 3. Rounding Out the Essentials
      1. Operator? Operator?
      2. Methods Without Parentheses and Dots
      3. Domain-Specific Languages
      4. Scala if Statements
      5. Scala for Comprehensions
      6. Other Looping Constructs
      7. Conditional Operators
      8. Pattern Matching
      9. Enumerations
      10. Recap and What’s Next
    8. 4. Traits
      1. Introducing Traits
      2. Stackable Traits
      3. Constructing Traits
      4. Recap and What’s Next
    9. 5. Basic Object-Oriented Programming in Scala
      1. Class and Object Basics
      2. Parent Classes
      3. Constructors in Scala
      4. Nested Classes
      5. Visibility Rules
      6. Recap and What’s Next
    10. 6. Advanced Object-Oriented Programming In Scala
      1. Overriding Members of Classes and Traits
      2. Companion Objects
      3. Case Classes
      4. Equality of Objects
      5. Recap and What’s Next
    11. 7. The Scala Object System
      1. The Predef Object
      2. Classes and Objects: Where Are the Statics?
      3. Sealed Class Hierarchies
      4. The Scala Type Hierarchy
      5. Linearization of an Object’s Hierarchy
      6. Recap and What’s Next
    12. 8. Functional Programming in Scala
      1. What Is Functional Programming?
      2. Functional Programming in Scala
      3. Recursion
      4. Tail Calls and Tail-Call Optimization
      5. Functional Data Structures
      6. Traversing, Mapping, Filtering, Folding, and Reducing
      7. Pattern Matching
      8. Partial Functions
      9. Currying
      10. Implicits
      11. Implicit Function Parameters
      12. Call by Name, Call by Value
      13. Lazy Vals
      14. Recap: Functional Component Abstractions
    13. 9. Robust, Scalable Concurrency with Actors
      1. The Problems of Shared, Synchronized State
      2. Actors
      3. Actors in Scala
      4. Traditional Concurrency in Scala: Threading and Events
      5. Recap and What’s Next
    14. 10. Herding XML in Scala
      1. Reading XML
      2. Writing XML
      3. Recap and What’s Next
    15. 11. Domain-Specific Languages in Scala
      1. Internal DSLs
      2. External DSLs with Parser Combinators
      3. Recap and What’s Next
    16. 12. The Scala Type System
      1. Reflecting on Types
      2. Understanding Parameterized Types
      3. Variance Under Inheritance
      4. Type Bounds
      5. Nothing and Null
      6. Understanding Abstract Types
      7. Path-Dependent Types
      8. Value Types
      9. Self-Type Annotations
      10. Structural Types
      11. Existential Types
      12. Infinite Data Structures and Laziness
      13. Recap and What’s Next
    17. 13. Application Design
      1. Annotations
      2. Enumerations Versus Pattern Matching
      3. Thoughts On Annotations and Enumerations
      4. Using Nulls Versus Options
      5. Exceptions and the Alternatives
      6. Scalable Abstractions
      7. Effective Design of Traits
      8. Design Patterns
      9. Better Design with Design By Contract
      10. Recap and What’s Next
    18. 14. Scala Tools, Libraries, and IDE Support
      1. Command-Line Tools
      2. Build Tools
      3. Integration with IDEs
      4. Test-Driven Development in Scala
      5. Other Notable Scala Libraries and Tools
      6. Java Interoperability
      7. Java Library Interoperability
      8. Recap and What’s Next
    19. A. References
    20. Glossary
    21. Index
    22. About the Authors
    23. Colophon
    24. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly

Option, Some, and None: Avoiding nulls

We’ll discuss the standard type hierarchy for Scala in The Scala Type Hierarchy. However, three useful classes to understand now are the Option class and its two subclasses, Some and None.

Most languages have a special keyword or object that’s assigned to reference variables when there’s nothing else for them to refer to. In Java, this is null; in Ruby, it’s nil. In Java, null is a keyword, not an object, and thus it’s illegal to call any methods on it. But this is a confusing choice on the language designer’s part. Why return a keyword when the programmer expects an object?

To be more consistent with the goal of making everything an object, as well as to conform with functional programming conventions, Scala encourages you to use the Option type for variables and function return values when they may or may not refer to a value. When there is no value, use None, an object that is a subclass of Option. When there is a value, use Some, which wraps the value. Some is also a subclass of Option.


None is declared as an object, not a class, because we really only need one instance of it. In that sense, it’s like the null keyword, but it is a real object with methods.

You can see Option, Some, and None in action in the following example, where we create a map of state capitals in the United States:

// code-examples/TypeLessDoMore/state-capitals-subset-script.scala

val stateCapitals = Map(
  "Alabama" -> "Montgomery",
  "Alaska"  -> "Juneau",
  // ...
  "Wyoming" ...

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