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How to Get Started with Scala Training: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

20 September 2023

How to Get Started with Scala Training: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Scala is a modern, multi-paradigm programming language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). It combines object-oriented and functional programming concepts in a concise, flexible syntax. Scala training teaches you how to leverage these features to build scalable, high-performance applications. 

This guide to getting started in Scala can be used in conjunction with our Scala course. 

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the fundamentals of Scala from installation to advanced concepts. Follow along to get up and running with Scala development.

Installing Scala and Setting Up Your Environment

The first step is to download and install the Scala Software Development Kit (SDK) which contains everything you need to write, compile, and run Scala code.

Downloading the Scala SDK

Go to and download the latest stable release of Scala. This will be available as a .tgz file for Linux and macOS or a .zip file for Windows.

Setting Up Your IDE

Popular Scala IDEs include:

  • IntelliJ - Offers excellent Scala support through the Scala plugin. This is the recommended IDE for many Scala developers.
  • Eclipse - Requires the Scala IDE plugin to enable Scala development.
  • Visual Studio Code - Lightweight editor with Scala extension.

Configuring Your Build Tool

Build tools like SBT and Maven can compile Scala code and manage dependencies.

  • SBT - Simple Build Tool is the most common build tool for Scala. Create a build.sbt file to configure SBT for your project.
  • Maven - Widely used for Java projects. Enable Scala support through the scala-maven-plugin.

Once your IDE and build tool are configured properly, you can create a simple "Hello World" Scala program to validate that everything is set up correctly.

Scala Tutorial - Your first Scala Hello World application

This prints "Hello, World!" to indicate Scala is installed and running properly.

Scala Syntax and Basic Programming Concepts

Now that Scala is installed, we can go over the basic syntax and programming constructs that make up the language.

Variables and Data Types

Like other languages, Scala uses variables to represent values in a program:

val message = "Hello World" // immutable value
var count = 0 // mutable variable

Common Scala data types include:

  • Int - 32-bit integer
  • Long - 64-bit integer
  • Float - 32-bit floating point number
  • Double - 64-bit floating point number
  • Char - Character
  • Boolean - True or false value
  • String - Sequence of characters


Functions are defined using the def keyword:

def greeting(name: String): String = {
  "Hello " + name 

println(greeting("John")) // Hello John

The return type is specified after the parameter list.

Control Structures

Scala includes familiar control structures like if statements and for loops:

if (x > 0) {
  println("x is positive")
} else {
  println("x is not positive") 

for (i <- 1 to 5) {
// 1 2 3 4 5

Classes and Objects

Scala is an object-oriented language, so it has classes, objects, and inheritance:

class Person(var name: String)

val person = new Person("John") 
println( // John

The new keyword creates an instance of a class.

Case Classes

Case classes are immutable classes that are compared by value, not reference. Useful for pattern matching and functional programming:

case class Point(x: Int, y: Int)

val point1 = Point(0, 0)
val point2 = Point(0, 0) 

point1 == point2 // true


Scala has a rich set of immutable collection types including:

  • List - Linked list
  • Set - Collection of unique elements
  • Map - Collection of key-value pairs
  • Vector - Indexed sequence for fast access

For example:

val numbers = List(1, 2, 3)
val names = Set("Bob", "Jane")
val scores = Map("Alice" -> 10, "Bob" -> 3) 

These cover the core programming concepts and syntax you'll need to start writing Scala code.

Functional Programming in Scala

Scala embraces functional programming, or FP. This programming paradigm focuses on:

  • Pure functions without side effects
  • Immutable data
  • Declarative rather than imperative code

Let's look at some functional concepts in Scala.


Scala encourages immutability with val declarations:

val numbers = List(1, 2, 3) // immutable list
numbers.head = 5 // error! cannot mutate

This avoids side effects that can lead to bugs.

First-Class Functions

In Scala, functions are first-class citizens that can be:

  • Assigned to variables
  • Passed as arguments
  • Returned from other functions

For example:

val addOne = (x: Int) => x + 1 // function assigned to value

val result = addOne(5) // 6

def apply(f: Int => Int, x: Int) = f(x)

val result2 = apply(addOne, 5) // 6 

This allows passing behavior around in a flexible way.

Higher-Order Functions

Higher-order functions take other functions as arguments or return them as results. Some examples include:

  • map - Transform each element in a collection
  • filter - Select elements based on a predicate
  • reduce - Combine all elements using a function

val numbers = List(1, 2, 3)

val doubled = => x * 2) // List(2, 4, 6)   

val even = numbers.filter(x => x % 2 == 0) // List(2)

val sum = numbers.reduce((x, y) => x + y) // 6  

This leads to declarative, readable code.

Lazy Evaluation

In Scala, expressions are only evaluated when their results are needed. This is called lazy evaluation:

lazy val words = loadTextFile() // not loaded yet 

if (words.isEmpty) {
  println("Empty file") // evaluates words

This avoids unnecessary computation.

Together, these functional concepts make Scala very expressive and efficient for data processing tasks.

Concurrency in Scala

Scala was designed for highly concurrent, distributed systems. It provides several concurrency constructs.


The Actor model is a concurrency pattern that works by sending immutable messages between independent actors.

For example:


class Counter extends Actor {
  var count = 0
  def receive = { 
    case "inc" => count += 1
    case "get" => sender ! count

val system = ActorSystem("system")
val counter = system.actorOf(Props[Counter], "counter") 
counter ! "inc"
counter ! "get" // returns 1  

Actors allow building reliable concurrent programs.


A future represents a result that may not yet exist. This allows asynchronous, non-blocking computation:

import scala.concurrent.Future

val future: Future[Int] = Future {
  1 + 2 // computed asynchronously   
} => x + 1) // get future result

Futures are useful for I/O-bound asynchronous tasks.

Parallel Collections

Scala collections can be made parallel for easy multi-threading:

val numbers = (1 to 1000).toList => x * 2) // multi-threaded map

This provides parallelism with minimal code changes.

Overall, Scala offers many options for taking advantage of modern multi-core processors.

Scala Best Practices

Like any language, Scala comes with its own idioms and best practices. Here are some tips for writing idiomatic, maintainable Scala code.

Scala Style Guide

Refer to the Scala Style Guide for conventions on formatting, naming, and idiomatic usage. This promotes consistency across codebases.


Favor immutability for safer concurrency and functional style. Use val instead of var whenever possible.

Pattern Matching

Use pattern matching extensively to decompose data types and handle errors:

list match {
  case head :: tail => ??? 
  case Nil => ???

try {
  // code 
} catch {
  case e: IOException => // handle
  case _ => // wildcard   

For Comprehensions

Use for-comprehensions for nested looping with filters, maps, etc:

for {
  i <- 1 to 3
  j <- 1 to 3 
  if i != j  
} yield (i, j) // tuples of all combinations

Much more readable than nested loops!

Following best practices will make your Scala code more idiomatic, robust, and easy to maintain.

Next Steps for Advancing Your Scala Skills

This guide covered the fundamental concepts and tools you need to get started with Scala. Here are some recommendations for advancing your Scala training:

  • Build projects using Scala to apply your skills
  • Learn more advanced language features like implicit classes, type classes, etc.
  • Dive deeper into functional programming
  • Study concurrency patterns like actors and reactive streams
  • Explore Scala web frameworks like Play, Akka HTTP
  • Check out the huge ecosystem of Scala libraries
  • Join the Scala community through meetups, conferences, etc

With time and practice, you will continue to expand your Scala abilities. It's a language with immense depth and countless possibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I learn Scala or Java first?

Java experience is helpful before learning Scala but not required. Scala runs on the JVM and interoperates with Java. Consider learning both languages side-by-side.

Is Scala dying or losing popularity?

No, Scala continues to grow in usage. It may have slowed slightly but remains very popular for data engineering, financial applications, and other domains.

What companies use Scala professionally?

Many tech giants use Scala including Twitter, LinkedIn, Apple, Foursquare, The Guardian, eBay, Coursera, and more. Scala sees heavy use across industries.

Is Scala hard to learn?

Scala has a steeper initial learning curve than simpler languages. But with immersion and practice, Scala becomes intuitive. Its expressiveness makes solutions easier to reason about.

Should I learn Scala or Python?

Python is more widely used while Scala offers advantages for scalability, performance, and concurrency. Consider your specific use case - both excellent languages!


I hope this guide provided a comprehensive introduction to Scala for beginners. Scala is an immensely powerful language that blends object-oriented and functional approaches. Mastering Scala enables you to build complex, scalable systems with concise, robust code. There are limitless possibilities for innovation with Scala. Keep learning, build real projects, and have fun with this fascinating language!

Continue Your Scala Training with JBI

Check out our next Scala article on Level Up Your Scala Skills: Intermediate Concepts for the Journeyman Developer or take a follow up course. JBI Training offers excellent courses to take alongside your Scala training and software development skills to the next level.

Scala Design Patterns Workshop

Learn Scala best practices for enterprise development. Covers common design patterns and idioms to write high-quality, maintainable Scala code.


Master Node.js for building fast, scalable network applications. Learn to develop APIs, work with databases, and deploy cloud-native apps.


Dive into concurrent, distributed apps with Akka. Harness actors, streams, and clusters for resilient reactive systems.

Microservices Architecture

Understand microservices principles and architecture. Put them into practice by building, testing, and deploying microservices.

JBI's hands-on training will boost your development skills. Learn from experienced practitioners in live online classes

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