Scala, Akka, and Play: An Introduction on Heroku


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Scala, Akka, and Play: An Introduction on Heroku

  1. 1. Scala, Akka, and Play: an Introduction on Heroku Havoc Pennington Typesafe
  2. 2. OverviewModernizing development on the Java Virtual Machine – Scala: practical, superior alternative to Java with incremental migration path – Akka: proven Actor model gives horizontal scale for both Java and Scala, without the pain points of explicit threads – Play: popular Rails-style convention-over-configuration lightweight web framework for both Java and Scala – All supported on Heroku, a cloud platform with the same developer- friendly point of view Developer-friendly, horizontally scalable, with a pragmatic path to adoption 2
  3. 3. Scala
  4. 4. Where it comes fromScala has established itself as one of the main alternativelanguages on the JVM.Created by Martin Odersky, who also designed generics in Java 5and implemented the javac compiler. He works with a team atEPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in addition tothe team at Typesafe.Prehistory:1996 – 1997: Pizza1998 – 2000: GJ, Java generics, javac ( “make Java better” )Timeline:2003 – 2006: The Scala “Experiment” 42006 – 2009: An industrial strength programming language
  5. 5. Quick Scala Facts• Vibrant open source community• Wide commercial adoption• Catching fire last couple years, but has been maturing many years• Supports both object-oriented and functional styles• Great interoperability with Java• Static type safety• Type inference makes it concise like a dynamic language• “Scala” implies a “scalable language” – Horizontal scale across cores – Developer scale: manage complex projects
  6. 6. 6
  7. 7. Select Commercial Users Migrated core messaging Scala drives its social graph service from Ruby to sustain service: 380-400 M 3 orders of magnitude growth transactions/day EU’s largest energy firm Entire web site and all migrated a 300K lines contract services written in Scala modeling platform from Java to ScalaApproved for general production use 7
  8. 8. Community TractionOpen source ecosystem with• Tens of thousands of downloads, scala- visitors• 20 books• 40+ active user groups 8
  9. 9. GitHub and StackOverflow 9 From
  10. 10. Practical Migration and Interoperability import; Java: Import;• Scala differs from Java only on the source code level URL u = new URL(“”); InputStream s = u.openStream();• Once you have a .jar or .war, it s.close(); just looks like Java• Scala code can seamlessly import and use any Java class• Projects can have a mix of Java and Scala files Scala: import• Deploy Scala to any cloud or val u = new URL(“”) val s = u.openStream() container that supports Java s.close() 10
  11. 11. Less CodeWhen going from Java to Scala, expect at least a factor of 2reduction in LOC. Guy Steele: “Switching from Java to Scala reduced size of Fortress typechecker by a factor of 4”.But does it matter?Doesn’t Eclipse write these extra lines for me?This does matter. Eye-tracking experiments* show that for programcomprehension, average time spent per word of source code isconstant.So, roughly, half the code means half the time necessary tounderstand it. *G. Dubochet. Computer Code as a Medium for Human Communication: Are Programming Languages Improving? In 21st Annual Psychology of Programming Interest Group Conference, pages 174-187, Limerick, Ireland, 2009. 11
  12. 12. A class ... public class Person { public final String name; public final int age; Person(String name, int age) {... in Java: = name; this.age = age; } } class Person(val name: String,... in Scala: val age: Int) 12
  13. 13. ... and its usage import java.util.ArrayList; ... Person[] people; Person[] minors; Person[] adults; { ArrayList<Person> minorsList = new ArrayList<Person>(); ArrayList<Person> adultsList = new ArrayList<Person>(); ... in Java: for (int i = 0; i < people.length; i++) (people[i].age < 18 ? minorsList : adultsList) .add(people[i]); minors = minorsList.toArray(people); adults = adultsList.toArray(people); }... in Scala: val people: Array[Person] val (minors, adults) = people partition (_.age < 18) 13
  14. 14. Both Object-Oriented and Functional• Scala is not “religious” on programming paradigm: it tries to let you do whats practical for the situation• In some cases, Scala is “more object oriented” than Java; for example – primitive types are full-fledged objects – static methods are replaced by methods on singleton objects 14
  15. 15. Detour: What is Functional Programming?• Emphasizes transformation (take a value, return a new value) over mutable state (take a value, change the value in-place)• Think ƒ(x)• Also includes some cultural traditions, such as transforming lists with map and reduce• Advantages include: – Inherently parallelizable and thread-safe – Enables many optimizations, such as lazy evaluation – Can make code more flexible and generic, for example by supporting composition 15
  16. 16. Imperative Style (Java)public static void addOneToAll(ArrayList<Integer> items) { for (int i = 0; i < items.size(); ++i) { items.set(i, items.get(i) + 1); }} Mutates (modifies) the list in-place 16
  17. 17. Functional Style (Java)public static List<Integer> addOneToAll(List<Integer> items) { ArrayList<Integer> result = new ArrayList<Integer>(); for (int i : items) { result.add(i + 1); } return result;} Returns a new list, leaving original untouched 17
  18. 18. Functional Enables Compositionpublic static List<Integer> addTwoToAll(List<Integer> items) { return addOneToAll(addOneToAll(items));} (Composition is great for HTTP request handlers, by the way.) 18
  19. 19. Imperative Style (Scala)def addOneToAll(items : mutable.IndexedSeq[Int]) = { var i = 0 while (i < items.length) { items.update(i, items(i) + 1) i += 1 }} Mutates (modifies) the list in-place 19
  20. 20. Functional Style (Scala)def addOneToAll(items : Seq[Int]) = items map { _ + 1 } Anonymous function applied to each item in the list Returns a new list, leaving original untouched 20
  21. 21. Functional is not...• A syntax. You can use functional style in both Java and Scala.• A bunch of jargon (Monads, Functors, etc.); the Scala standard library and the Programming in Scala book for example take care to avoid this sort of academic language.• A silver bullet. 21
  22. 22. Best fit for the problem domain• Something like a simulation or a UI toolkit might map most naturally to object-oriented style• Something like a file format transformation or HTTP request might map most naturally to functional style• There is no need to be religious• You can also use Scala as “Java with fewer characters to type,” and ignore the functional style 22
  23. 23. End of detourNext: how Scala uses functional style to support horizontal scale... 23
  24. 24. Horizontal ScaleThe world of mainstream software is changing:– Moore’s law now achieved by increasing # of cores not clock cycles– Huge volume workloads that require horizontal scaling Data from Kunle Olukotun, Lance Hammond, Herb Sutter, Burton Smith, Chris Batten, and Krste Asanovic 24
  25. 25. Concurrency is too hardAlmost every program that uses threads is full of bugs. 25
  26. 26. The Root of The Problem• Non-determinism caused by var x = 0 concurrent threads accessing async { x = x + 1 } shared mutable state. async { x = x * 2 }• It helps to encapsulate state in actors or transactions, but the fundamental // can give 0, 1, 2 problem stays the same.• So, non-determinism = parallel processing + mutable state• To get deterministic processing, avoid the mutable state!• Avoiding mutable state means programming functionally. 26
  27. 27. Remember this code from before... import java.util.ArrayList; ... Person[] people; Person[] minors; Person[] adults; { ArrayList<Person> minorsList = new ArrayList<Person>(); ArrayList<Person> adultsList = new ArrayList<Person>(); ... in Java: for (int i = 0; i < people.length; i++) (people[i].age < 18 ? minorsList : adultsList) .add(people[i]); minors = minorsList.toArray(people); adults = adultsList.toArray(people); }... in Scala: val people: Array[Person] val (minors, adults) = people partition (_.age < 18) 27
  28. 28. Lets make it parallel...... in Java: ?... in Scala: val people: Array[Person] val (minors, adults) = people.par partition (_.age < 18) 28
  29. 29. Recommended: Read the Book• Very clearly-written, by Scalas creator and designer• Highly recommended to start here
  30. 30. Scala in Summary• Beautiful interoperability with Java: mix Scala and Java as desired, no huge rewrites• Conciseness means dramatic improvement in maintainability and productivity• Functional style seamlessly supports parallel computation, for example parallel collections have exactly the same API as serial• Vibrant community, hockey-stick growth curve, and available commercial support
  31. 31. Akka
  32. 32. What is Akka?• An implementation of the “Actor model” – The actor model is an alternative to explicit threads, originally used in the highly reliable Erlang environment• An API for both Java and Scala – Many people use Akka but not Scala, even though Akka is written in Scala.
  33. 33. What else is Akka?“Akka is the platform for next generation event-driven, scalable, and fault-tolerant architectures on the JVM” A toolkit with many tools, but lets focus on Actors...
  34. 34. An Actor ... in Java:public class HelloWorldActor extends UntypedActor { public void onReceive(Object msg) { getContext().replySafe(((String) msg) + “ World”); }}... in Scala:class HelloWorldActor extends Actor { def receive = { case msg : String => self reply (msg + “ World”) }} 34
  35. 35. Actors for Concurrent Programming• Developer writes an object, called an Actor, which handles messages.• Each actor instance runs in only one thread at a time, so no synchronization is required for actor state.• Akka dispatcher schedules actors on threads – or even on multiple machines – as needed. Can have millions of actors, an actor does not “use up” a thread.• Mutable state is safely single-threaded.• Easier for programmers to create reliable concurrent processing.• Many sources of contention, races, locking and dead-locks are removed.• No need to use locks or java.util.concurrent – at all. Even though youre using mutable state, its encapsulated in actors. 35
  36. 36. Separation of Concerns• “Business logic” does not concern itself with the concurrency mechanism or scheduling. Just implement what youd like to happen in response to each message.• Note the similarity to Scala collections – In “items foreach { _ + 1 }” rather than a while loop, the Scala library “drives” the application of “{ _ + 1 }” to “items” and can make that transparently parallel – In the same way, Akka “drives” the dispatch of messages to actors, allowing it to Do The Right Thing – Developer says “what” but avoids hardcoding “how” 36
  37. 37. Other Goodies• Actor model• Event-driven dispatcher can run millions of actors• Remoting• Supervisors (fault-tolerance)• Software Transactional Memory (STM)• Futures, Pools, and other handy utilitiesAkka offers a comprehensive toolkit for clustering, concurrency, and fault-tolerance.
  38. 38. Akka Core
  39. 39. Modules
  40. 40. Akka in Summary• Akka is an implementation of the Actor model for both Java and Scala.• Actors encapsulate mutable state with the guarantee of one message at a time.• Actor instances dont need to do any locking or think about threads, eliminating a whole class of bugs and mental overhead.• The magic comes from the dispatcher, which (by default) combines an event-driven loop with a thread pool for scalability.• A single JVM can host millions of actors – far more actors than threads.• Akka comes with a complete toolkit for distributed, fault-tolerant computing, built on actors as a base.• Highly modular: the core actor jar has ZERO dependencies. 40
  41. 41. Play
  42. 42. Both Scala and Java• Like Akka, Play has both Java and Scala APIs• Originally a Java framework, but increasing emphasis on Scala• You could use the Java version of Play and just happen to write some files in Scala, but there are also dedicated Scala-tuned APIs in Plays Scala module
  43. 43. Its a Framework• Framework, not a library; many decisions are made in advance, you can often change them but there are defaults• For example: – Model-View-Controller approach – Selenium is set up for testing – Theres a database API built-in with good default mappings to REST – memcached support built-in – Predefined “prod” and “dev” modes – default template system• Lets you get started quickly, instead of having to make a dozen decisions first. Can change decisions “as needed.”• Always start with a complete “hello world” project, and iterate it from there.
  44. 44. Scripting-style Web Development• The Play Framework feels like a Python or Ruby framework, rather than a traditional Java framework• No compile and restart; server compiles and recompiles on the fly, so just edit, reload, edit, reload. Compilation and other errors appear right in the browser.• Like developing with a “scripting language” … but you have static type safety!• With Scala, your code can be as concise as it would be in a “scripting language”
  45. 45. Stateless• Play is “share-nothing” so no need for communication between nodes• State can be kept in your SQL or NoSQL store, in memcached, or browser cookies
  46. 46. Seeing is believing• play new helloworld --with scala• play run
  47. 47. Play in Summary• Both Scala and Java friendly• Emphasis on rapid development and good defaults, rather than absolute flexibility• Similar in feel to Python and Ruby frameworks, for example shares the MVC model• Try out the Java or Scala tutorials on the Play website
  48. 48. Heroku
  49. 49. Heroku Supports Scala and Play• With Heroku, the unit of deployment is a git repository: that is, you deploy the source code, not a .war file or similar• This means Heroku must know how to build from source• With Herokus “Java support” you could already deploy a Scala application using Maven• Most Scala developers use Simple Build Tool, however• Play Framework has built-in build facilities so it can build on browser reload Heroku now supports Play Framework applications, plus (experimentally) SBT apps might work...
  50. 50. DemoLets run some stuff on Heroku.
  51. 51. TakeawaysThese technologies offer a genuine opportunity for huge productivity gains over traditional Java.They are practical to adopt incrementally without huge rewrites.Typesafe offers commercial support and training for Scala and Akka. On Twitter: @Typesafe 51 Learn more at
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