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.