Tag Archives: Atomic Scala

Atomic Scala: Splitting an Atom today

Ah, one of the fun things about the title for our book, Atomic Scala, is that I smile whenever I get to say that I’m “splitting an atom”. For one thing, it’s fun to say. For another, it means that we’re simplifying the concepts in the book even further.

You can read about how I’m splitting Values and Data Types into 2 atoms, and how that might mean including the content from Type Inference earlier in the book.

Atomic Scala: A Book Gets Written

 I liked Scala at first glance several years ago, and thought it was a huge improvement over Java. Unfortunately, it suffered from what I like to call “Early Adopter Syndrome”. The early adopters of the language were attracted to its terseness and its flexibility. The combination made the language seem really difficult. It didn’t have to be that way, and I was convinced that it would be a good language for beginners. So, about a year and a half ago, I mentioned to my friend Bruce Eckel that I was thinking of writing a book on Scala. He’s written several very popular programming language books, and I wanted his opinion.
After about a minute pause, Bruce said, “I would like to help you write that book”.
I have some very kind and generous friends. I wasn’t angling for that — but I was floored by the offer. His books are some of the best in the industry. I knew that I had much to learn; I just didn’t know how much! Bruce has kept me focused, pushed me toward simplification, and I have grown in numerous ways as a writer and as a developer because of his generosity. Bruce is in Colorado; I’m in Michigan. Technology (in particular, Google Docs) has made co-authoring this book possible.
The book is now at a point where we think we will benefit from people “testing it out” and where beginners in Scala can benefit from the very small steps (atoms) that make up the book. We named the book Atomic Scala to reflect this and it’s been a lot of fun “splitting atoms” when we felt like we have represented more than one concept at a time.

In October, we will be presenting a weeklong seminar from the book. We will put it to the test with attendees, and we are convinced that this exercise will help us to remove complexities that we no longer see. The seminar will be hands-on, based on exercises from the book. We have targeted our book at beginning Scala programmers, and we feel that completion of the course will put folks in a great position to follow up with Escalate Software’s Scala training from Bill Venners and Dick Wall and/or other, more advanced books.

The seminar will be exciting for me in another way. We’re going to do a print on demand “early access” run for the book, so that we can give one to each attendee. To date, our editing has been in Google Docs, and it’s hard to envision what it will look like in print. We will have an eBook version as well, of course, but I’ve seen those. I will be thrilled to get my hand on a print copy.

We have an active group of reviewers. Google Docs added a commenting feature recently, which allows us to give commenting permission (but not editing permission) as a sharing option. With this, our reviewers can add comments to the document. They can also actually see us editing (cursor moving, backspacing, rewriting sentences)! It’s a fun way to write a book.

So, when will it be done? Well, that’s a good question, one my family, business partner, and employees ask often. We expect it to be done later this year. But what I typically tell people is that it will be done when Bruce says it’s done. (That’s a compliment, Bruce. I really do trust your judgment on this!)

You can learn more about the book and upcoming seminars from our book website.

Books and Conferences and Blogging, oh my!

Long time, no blog. I’ve been putting all of my writing energy into the book that I’m writing with Bruce Eckel. We’re working on Atomic Scala, a book targeted at a gentle introduction to Scala, for programmers and not-yet-programmers alike. If you like the language, we expect that the book will prepare you for a more comprehensive book.

If you want to experience what we’re working on, Bruce and I will be holding a 4-day workshop, “A Gentle Introduction to Scala” in Crested Butte, CO from July 18-21. We’re limiting attendance to 8 people for now, and holding it in Bruce’s living room.  The goal is to gently introduce the workshop attendees to the language through a series of discussion-y type interactions based on the book and exercises that we’ve developed. We will gain valuable feedback about the book and we hope that the attendees will become comfortable enough with the language that they can decide if they want to pursue its study or not.

We decided to do a social experiment on pricing the Atomic Scala workshop. Inspired by the Humble Bundle folks, we’re letting the attendees decide how much they want to pay. We set a minimum ($75) and show how other open spaces conferences have been priced for comparison sake. Unlike the Humble Bundle folks, we didn’t write any cool code to show how much above or below the average people are paying, or separate it out by platform, and we didn’t throw in any bonuses for paying above average. Frankly, the numbers are just to small for that to be meaningful in this case. But we are looking forward to seeing how people respond to “pay-by-worth”.

Immediately before the Scala workshop, I will be presenting the Scala Koans with Daniel Hinojosa at OSCON, in Portland, OR. I’m really looking forward to the conference. I haven’t been to Portland in quite a while, and I’ve never been to OSCON. The koans will be presented on Monday afternoon. Daniel and I have presented them together several times now, and it’s been an interesting experience each time. The participants really make it fun!

I’m looking forward to my own little Geek Week this summer!