#scala

We’ve been writing a bit of Scala lately (more on that later) and one of the “gotchas” we ran into was adding a Maven project in the Scala IDE (Eclipse). We wanted to use Maven because we needed to manage some Java dependencies, are generally more familiar with it, and didn’t want to deal with figuring out sbt. It turns out, there’s an existing Maven archetype for building Scala projects but it takes a bit of finagling to get it to work in Eclipse.

From Eclipse

The first thing you’ll need to do is add a “Remote Catalog” to your list of available Maven archetypes. To do this, click through Windows > Preferences and then on the left navigate through > Maven > Archetypes > Add Remote Catalog. From there, you’ll need to add a “Remote Catalog” with the catalog file set to http://repo1.maven.org/maven2/archetype-catalog.xml.

Once this is done, you’ll be able to File > New > Other and select Maven > Maven Project. On the archetype selection screen you’ll now be able to search for “net.alchim31.maven” which is what you’ll want to select.

When I tested this, there were a couple of problems with the project that the archetype created. To solve these issues I had to do the following:

  • The pom.xml was generated with a placeholder for my Scala version so I had to replace all the instances of “${scala.version}” in the pom with “2.11.7”. You’ll want to match this with the version of Scala you have installed.
  • junit wasn’t properly importing so the classes in test/ were throwing a compile error. I didn’t have any immediate testing needs so I deleted the entire test/ directory and removed the test related dependencies: junit, org.specs2, org.scalatest
  • The pom passes an invalid “-make:transitive” option to scalac which I just removed. It’s around line 51 inside the “args” block for scala-maven-plugin
  • The archetype also sets the compiler version to 1.6 which I bumped to 1.8

Creating a runnable JAR

Another common “gotcha” with Scala and Maven is creating a runnable JAR, so basically something you can run with “java -jar yourjar.jar”. This is a bit tricky with Scala since you have to package in the scala library along with your dependencies. And then on the Maven side, it seems like there’s a dozen ways to accomplish this successfully. I ended up using the maven-assembly-plugin with the following configuration:

And then you can compile and run like any other Maven project:

A working pom.xml

Copied below is the pom.xml file in all of its glory. Let me know if you run into any issues.

Posted In: Scala

Tags: ,

A couple of months ago I decided to use Scala with the Play Framework for a Bitcoin related project. The decision to use Play was motivated primarily by the goal of implementing a “pure” Bitcoin application, leveraging bitcoinj to interact with the Bitcoin network as opposed to a third party service. Overall, everything was pretty straightforward but one thing that stuck out was how the Play framework handles parsing JSON.

Coming from loosely typed PHP I knew that handling serializing and unserializing of JSON data was going to be different but Play’s approach is a completely new paradigm. If you use Play with Scala, you can handle parsing JSON input back into objects using Scala’s Parser Combinators syntax. I’m going to butcher this description so check the wikipedia entry but the idea is that parser combinators let you “build up” increasingly complex parsers by combining functions that recognize smaller inputs. If you’ve taken a compilers or programming language class, Scala’s parser combinators end up looking a lot like Backus–Naur Form for the input you want to recognize.

Anyway in an effort to learn Scala a bit better and take Parser Combinators for a spin I decided to build out a small project. What I ended up building is a really simple implementation of a Turtle Graphics system. You basically feed it a series of “turtle” commands and it’ll move the “turtle” around on a Swing window drawing some graphics.

Here’s an examples of the input and output:

Which was generated by:

Overall, parser combinators seem to be a really powerful Scala feature that would make developing domain specific languages relatively straightforward. Compared to messing around with a parser generator, using parser combinators seems to more closely mirror what the formal grammar of a language would be.

The entire project is available on GitHub. If you clone that project, there’s a runnable JAR which you can run with:

java -jar logoparser.jar /home/ashish/workspace_java/logo-parser/samples/face.txt

You’ll need to provide an absolute path for the “filewatcher” to work. Once the app starts, if you modify the file you specify it’ll repaint the canvas with your updates. Note: I’m not sure why but certain text editors don’t seem to register in the Java “filewatcher” interface so if your updates aren’t showing up try using a different editor.

Anyway, as always I’d love any feedback!

Posted In: Scala

Tags: , ,

Happy 2014! In between celebrating Christmas, hanging with family, and ringing in the New Year I managed to put together a visualization of the words used on avc.com. AVC, written by Fred Wilson, is probably one of the most popular “start up” blogs on the Internet. It covers a wide array of topics from “MBA Mondays”, USV portfolio companies and of course general startup and technology news. Given the range of topics and and that the blog has been active since 2003, it naturally seemed like generating a word cloud would produce interesting results. With the goal of generating word clouds in mind, I set off the day after Christmas.

Checkout the finished product at http://symf.setfive.com/d3_avc_blog_cloud/. I actually decided to use Scala to scrape and process the data, look for a follup post on coming to Scala from PHP.

Taking a quick glance at the clouds, a few things do jump out:

  • “Android” enters the top 100 in 2010 and has remained there since.
  • Amazon is surprisingly absent past 2007
  • Apple hasn’t made the top 100 in any year.
  • It’s interesting to see when USV portfolio companies like Disqus and Zemanta enter and exit.
  • Bitcoin makes the list for 2013
  • Blackberry, one and done
  • Facebook peaked in 2007 and then steadily declines until it drops out this year
  • Google hits the list for every year
  • Twitter gets in at 2007 and sticks through this year

Posted In: Demo

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