Thursday May 31, 2012

Java Champion Dick Wall Explores the Virtues of Scala (otn interview)

In a new interview up on otn/java, titled “Java Champion Dick Wall on the Virtues of Scala (Part 2),” Dick Wall explains why, after a long career in programming exploring Lisp, C, C++, Python, and Java, he has finally settled on Scala as his language of choice.

From the interview:

“I was always on the lookout for a language that would give me both Python-like productivity and simplicity for just writing something and quickly having it work and that also offers strong performance, toolability, and type safety (all of which I like in Java). Scala is simply the first language that offers all those features in a package that suits me. Programming in Scala feels like programming in Python (if you can think it, you can do it), but with the benefit of having a compiler looking over your shoulder and telling you that you have the wrong type here or the wrong method name there.

The final ‘aha!’ moment came about a year and a half ago. I had a quick task to complete, and I started writing it in Python (as I have for many years) but then realized that I could probably write it just as fast in Scala. I tried, and indeed I managed to write it just about as fast.”

Wall makes the remarkable claim that once Java developers have learned to work in Scala, when they work on large projects, they typically find themselves more productive than they are in Java. “Of course,” he points out, “people are always going to argue about these claims, but I can put my hand over my heart and say that I am much more productive in Scala than I was in Java, and I see no reason why the many people I know using Scala wouldn’t say the same without some reason.”

Read the interview here.

Thursday Feb 02, 2012

Java Champion Dick Wall on Genetics, the Java Posse, and Alternative Languages (Part One)

In Part One of a two-part interview, titled “Java Champion Dick Wall on Genetics, the Java Posse, and Alternative Languages (Part One),” Java Champion and Java Posse member Dick Wall explores the potential of genetic analysis to enhance human health, shares observations about alternative languages for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and reveals inside dope on the Java Posse. Wall admits to learning from Brian Goetz, Java language architect at Oracle, that pretty much everything he thought he knew about optimizing for the JVM was wrong, and discusses not only his current work using Scala to enhance our capacity to gain knowledge of our genetic vulnerabilities, but shares what he has learned about his own genetic challenges. In addition, he recounts some adventures with the Java Posse.

From the interview:

“…when I started working in Scala, I was worried that lots of extra immutable objects, which are created when you use immutable data often, would result in a lot more work for the garbage collector. After talking with Brian about it, I realized that, in fact, the opposite is often or usually true. Short-lived, immutable objects usually exist in a special part of the JVM’s memory referred to as Eden. Releasing the memory back to the pool from there is almost without cost. It is only longer-lived objects that get promoted to the JVM main heap that are expensive to garbage collect. So lots of small, short-lived objects can actually help the garbage collector out. There are other ways immutability can help or hurt performance, but ultimately, I decided to code for style and correctness first and worry about performance if and when it becomes an issue.”

Read the interview here.

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