Tour of Scala


In this page, we will cover basics of Scala.

Trying Scala interactively in a Jupyter Notebook

If you want to execute the code examples in this tour interactively, the easiest way to get started is to run the tour as Jupyter notebooks on Binder. That way, you can play with the examples and try new things in your browser without having to install anything locally.

To execute a cell of code, just click on it and press control + enter or use the menu.

For more information how this works or how to run it locally see the README of this project or the Almond documentation.

All content is derived from


Expressions are computable statements.

In [1]:
1 + 1
res0: Int = 2

You can output results of expressions using println.

In [2]:
println(1) // 1
println(1 + 1) // 2
println("Hello!") // Hello!
println("Hello," + " world!") // Hello, world!
Hello, world!


You can name results of expressions with the val keyword.

In [3]:
val x = 1 + 1
println(x) // 2
x: Int = 2

Named results, such as x here, are called values. Referencing a value does not re-compute it.

Values cannot be re-assigned.

In [4]:
x = 3 // This does not compile. reassignment to val
val res3 = x = 3 // This does not compile.
             ^Compilation Failed
Compilation Failed

Types of values can be inferred, but you can also explicitly state the type, like this:

In [4]:
val x: Int = 1 + 1
x: Int = 2

Notice how the type declaration Int comes after the identifier x. You also need a :.


Variables are like values, except you can re-assign them. You can define a variable with the var keyword.

In [5]:
var x = 1 + 1
x = 3 // This compiles because "x" is declared with the "var" keyword.
println(x * x) // 9
x: Int = 3

As with values, you can explicitly state the type if you want:

In [6]:
var x: Int = 1 + 1
x: Int = 2


You can combine expressions by surrounding them with {}. We call this a block.

The result of the last expression in the block is the result of the overall block, too.

In [7]:
  val x = 1 + 1
  x + 1
}) // 3


Functions are expressions that take parameters.

You can define an anonymous function (i.e. no name) that returns a given integer plus one:

In [8]:
(x: Int) => x + 1
res7: Int => Int = ammonite.$sess.cmd7$Helper$$Lambda$2461/[email protected]

On the left of => is a list of parameters. On the right is an expression involving the parameters.

You can also name functions.

In [9]:
val addOne = (x: Int) => x + 1
println(addOne(1)) // 2
addOne: Int => Int = ammonite.$sess.cmd8$Helper$$Lambda$2475/[email protected]

Functions may take multiple parameters.

In [10]:
val add = (x: Int, y: Int) => x + y
println(add(1, 2)) // 3
add: (Int, Int) => Int = ammonite.$sess.cmd9$Helper$$Lambda$2482/[email protected]

Or it can take no parameters.

In [11]:
val getTheAnswer = () => 42
println(getTheAnswer()) // 42
getTheAnswer: () => Int = ammonite.$sess.cmd10$Helper$$Lambda$2490/[email protected]


Methods look and behave very similar to functions, but there are a few key differences between them.

Methods are defined with the def keyword. def is followed by a name, parameter lists, a return type, and a body.

In [12]:
def add(x: Int, y: Int): Int = x + y
println(add(1, 2)) // 3
defined function add

Notice how the return type is declared after the parameter list and a colon : Int.

Methods can take multiple parameter lists.

In [13]:
def addThenMultiply(x: Int, y: Int)(multiplier: Int): Int = (x + y) * multiplier
println(addThenMultiply(1, 2)(3)) // 9
defined function addThenMultiply

Or no parameter lists at all.

In [14]:
def name: String = System.getProperty("")
println("Hello, " + name + "!")
Hello, brunksn!
defined function name

There are some other differences, but for now, you can think of them as something similar to functions.

Methods can have multi-line expressions as well.

In [15]:
def getSquareString(input: Double): String = {
  val square = input * input
defined function getSquareString

The last expression in the body is the method's return value. (Scala does have a return keyword, but it's rarely used.)


You can define classes with the class keyword followed by its name and constructor parameters.

In [16]:
class Greeter(prefix: String, suffix: String) {
  def greet(name: String): Unit =
    println(prefix + name + suffix)
defined class Greeter

The return type of the method greet is Unit, which says there's nothing meaningful to return. It's used similarly to void in Java and C. (A difference is that because every Scala expression must have some value, there is actually a singleton value of type Unit, written (). It carries no information.)

You can make an instance of a class with the new keyword.

In [17]:
val greeter = new Greeter("Hello, ", "!")
greeter.greet("Scala developer") // Hello, Scala developer!
Hello, Scala developer!
greeter: Greeter = [email protected]

We will cover classes in depth later.

Case Classes

Scala has a special type of class called a "case" class. By default, case classes are immutable and compared by value. You can define case classes with the case class keywords.

In [18]:
case class Point(x: Int, y: Int)
defined class Point

You can instantiate case classes without new keyword.

In [19]:
val point = Point(1, 2)
val anotherPoint = Point(1, 2)
val yetAnotherPoint = Point(2, 2)
point: Point = Point(1, 2)
anotherPoint: Point = Point(1, 2)
yetAnotherPoint: Point = Point(2, 2)

And they are compared by value.

In [20]:
if (point == anotherPoint) {
  println(point + " and " + anotherPoint + " are the same.")
} else {
  println(point + " and " + anotherPoint + " are different.")
} // Point(1,2) and Point(1,2) are the same.

if (point == yetAnotherPoint) {
  println(point + " and " + yetAnotherPoint + " are the same.")
} else {
  println(point + " and " + yetAnotherPoint + " are different.")
} // Point(1,2) and Point(2,2) are different.
Point(1,2) and Point(1,2) are the same.
Point(1,2) and Point(2,2) are different.

There is a lot more to case classes that we'd like to introduce, and we are convinced you will fall in love with them! We will cover them in depth later.


Objects are single instances of their own definitions. You can think of them as singletons of their own classes.

You can define objects with the object keyword.

In [21]:
object IdFactory {
  private var counter = 0
  def create(): Int = {
    counter += 1
defined object IdFactory

You can access an object by referring to its name.

In [22]:
val newId: Int = IdFactory.create()
println(newId) // 1
val newerId: Int = IdFactory.create()
println(newerId) // 2
newId: Int = 1
newerId: Int = 2

We will cover objects in depth later.


Traits are types containing certain fields and methods. Multiple traits can be combined.

You can define traits with trait keyword.

In [23]:
trait Greeter {
  def greet(name: String): Unit
defined trait Greeter

Traits can also have default implementations.

In [24]:
trait Greeter {
  def greet(name: String): Unit =
    println("Hello, " + name + "!")
defined trait Greeter

You can extend traits with the extends keyword and override an implementation with the override keyword.

In [25]:
class DefaultGreeter extends Greeter

class CustomizableGreeter(prefix: String, postfix: String) extends Greeter {
  override def greet(name: String): Unit = {
    println(prefix + name + postfix)

val greeter = new DefaultGreeter()
greeter.greet("Scala developer") // Hello, Scala developer!

val customGreeter = new CustomizableGreeter("How are you, ", "?")
customGreeter.greet("Scala developer") // How are you, Scala developer?
Hello, Scala developer!
How are you, Scala developer?
defined class DefaultGreeter
defined class CustomizableGreeter
greeter: DefaultGreeter = [email protected]
customGreeter: CustomizableGreeter = [email protected]

Here, DefaultGreeter extends only a single trait, but it could extend multiple traits.

We will cover traits in depth later.

Main Method

The main method is an entry point of a program. The Java Virtual Machine requires a main method to be named main and take one argument, an array of strings.

Using an object, you can define a main method as follows:

In [26]:
object Main {
  def main(args: Array[String]): Unit =
    println("Hello, Scala developer!")
defined object Main



Tour of Scala