About Dianne Marsh

Dianne Marsh is the Director of Engineering for Cloud Tools at Netflix. Her expertise in software programming and technology includes manufacturing, genomics decision support and real-time processing applications. Dianne started her professional career using C and has enjoyed using many languages, including C++, Java, and C# since then, and is currently having a lot of fun using Scala. Dianne is a member of the Women Presidents Organization (http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com) and a board member of the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum. Dianne has helped to organize CodeMash (http://codemash.org), an all-volunteer developer conference focused on bringing together programmers of various programming languages to learn from one another, and has been a board member of the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum. She is active with the local user groups, including hosting several. She earned her Master of Science degree in computer science from Michigan Technological University. She's married to her best friend, has two fun young children and she talked Bruce into doing this book.

We’re at OSCON this week!

Bruce and I are both at OSCON, in Portland, this week. This offers us a rare opportunity to work together in person, and that’s always fun (and productive).

We presented a half-day tutorial, Introduction to Scala, from Atomic Scala yesterday. We were surprised that we had a repeat tutorial attendee (hi John!) who had previously joined us at the CodeMash tutorial last January. We got up to the Class Exercises in the book, and we hope that attendees will continue independently. If you attended, we would love your feedback.

I’ll be speaking tomorrow, “Sneaking Scala through the Back Door” and Bruce has 2 talks on Thursday, “Rethinking Errors: Lessons from Scala and Go” and “Reinventing Business”. Both of us will be participating in OSCON Office Hours, which give attendees an opportunity to come talk to us. If you’re at OSCON, we would love to talk to you! We even have a few copies of the book with us!

If you aren’t at OSCON, consider attending the Scala Summit in Crested Butte August 19-21.

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Programmer Fast Track in Atomic Scala

We wrote Atomic Scala to appeal to beginning programmers as well as experienced programmers who have been frustrated with the sharp learning curve often described when learning Scala. In the atom “How to Use This Book”, we encourage experienced programmers to move through the material more quickly by skipping to the summaries (Summary 1 and Summary 2). Those summaries also help beginners by reinforcing the information that we previously presented in detailed atoms and with additional exercises.

If you previously downloaded the free sample, go ahead and grab another copy. The first 100 pages of the book (free download) has now been updated, and includes the Programmer Fast Track for the first several atoms (Summary 1) that I described above. Summary 2 is not in the first 100 pages, but I think you will have enough information to see if this approach works for you. The print book is now available to order, if you’re interested, but try the download first so that you’ll see if this is a book that appeals to you before you buy it. Also, if you would prefer the Kindle version, we’re working on it, and we are planning for that to become available in 1-2 months.

Let us know what you think!

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Scala as a new library for Java?

A few weeks ago, an interesting blog post appeared, written by Graham Lea. He posited that there was a new library available for Java programmers and that the thought that folks should check it out. He went on to describe some compelling features, such as:

  • Improved Collections
  • Less boilerplate
  • Extensive pattern matching
  • Automatic property mechanisms
  • Integrates with your existing code
  • And more (read the article)

And then he exposes that he’s talking about Scala. Brilliant! I love it because he addresses concerns that we often hear in the Java community like, “My programmers don’t know it” and “The code will look different” and “Finding enough programmers that know it”, but compares these challenges to those encountered when adopting a new framework (which folks seem to accept).

It’s worth a read and worth your consideration. We may be preaching to the converted here (you *are* reading the Atomic Scala blog, after all), but maybe you’re trying to figure out how to get Scala accepted as one of your “approved languages” or how to talk about using Scala with other team members. Let us know what you think! And definitely let Graham know too!

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Continuing work on the book …

We returned from our 1-day conference tutorial at CodeMash with a lot of insight and ideas about how to improve and streamline our seminar format. We’re also working hard to get the book out in its First Edition.

Thanks to all who attended our seminar and for the valuable feedback!

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We’re at CodeMash 2013 this week (January 7-11)

Bruce Eckel and Dianne Marsh are at CodeMash this week. A small number of early access copies of the book shipped here in time for the conference. This has give us the opportunity to preview it (print on demand is flexible like that) and have attendees look at it before the final version is available. We still have some work to do — add the index, incorporate suggestions from attendees at the conference, beef up the exercises a bit more, and add that ever elusive “one last atom”. But it’s great to see it in print format, and it was particularly fun to open it up here at the conference. Stop by the SRT Solutions booth (near Salon B) to see the book if you’re at CodeMash!

Next week, the Ann Arbor Scala Enthusiasts will welcome Josh Suereth at its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, January 16 at 6 pm. We have 3 copies of Josh’s book “Scala in Depth” (thanks, Manning!) that Josh will sign and give away at the meeting. Join us there if you’re in or around Ann Arbor. The meeting will be held at SRT Solutions, 206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. It will start at 6 pm, and Typesafe is sponsoring food!

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Where we’ve been … what we’ve been doing …

We’ve been busy getting the Atomic Scala book ready for an early access printing for CodeMash, where we will be presenting a 1-Day seminar on Wednesday, January 10. The book has shipped to the conference location in Sandusky, OH, and we’re looking forward to seeing it!

We expect that there will be some fun face-palm moments where we realize that we have explained something poorly or inadvertently introduced a forward reference. We will use feedback from the attendees and from early viewers of the book to refine the final edition.

Following CodeMash, Josh Suereth will be joining us in Ann Arbor, MI, for the inaugural Ann Arbor Scala Enthusiasts meeting on Wednesday, January 16. If you’re in the area, please join us. The meeting, starting at 6 pm, is free and open to the public. It will be held at SRT Solutions, 206 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

Hope to see you either in Sandusky or in Ann Arbor in January, or somewhere else in 2013!

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Reordering atoms …

I’m spending the day reordering atoms for Atomic Scala. It’s hard not to have any forward references (where we mention something we haven’t described yet and promise to talk about it later), but we think that this is really important, and we’ve made a commitment to our readers to avoid it.

But reordering cascades. So when I found that we had a reference to Methods in Objects, I decided to move Methods up.  But Methods uses Testing, so I have to either rewrite the Methods atom or move Testing up. Aha, but Testing talks about Objects. D’oh!

It would be easy to convince ourselves to allow it “just this once, just this little forward reference”, but it’s slippery slope and we’re not going to do it.

It’s a fun puzzle. So that’s how I’m spending my day today, and I’m pretty happy about that!

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Refining our download mechanism …

We’ve added a Downloads area so that we can know how many people are downloading the book. When you fill out the contact form, you can say that you want “Book Updates” and/or “Public Seminar Updates”. We really won’t share your email address with anyone else and we promise that our communication will be infrequent.

Also, I’ve finally configured the mail server to send from the email address “downloads” in the hopes that this will mean less messages are going to spam.

If you tried to download the book and never received the email, check your spam folder for “wordpress@atomicscala.com”. If you still can’t find it, please try again or fill out the Contact Form and we’ll send the download manually.

We really do appreciate all of the feedback we’ve gotten so far!

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Splitting an Atom … Values and Data Types

I’m having some fun today “splitting an atom”, based on some feedback from a reader who downloaded the first 25% of Atomic Scala. He said that he thought that Values and Data Types should be split, so I started down that path this morning …

I’m splitting it into 2 atoms: Values … and Data Types. Following our practice before theory principle, Values must come first since Data Types has no context without storing a value. That’s driving some other fun changes too, notably in the Type Inference atom.

The Type Inference atom appeared later in the book because that’s how we thought of it … as something special that Scala does for us. But why did we think of it as special? Because we’re programmers who didn’t have that in other languages. Ah, but we’re writing this book to appeal to beginners as well as to seasoned developers. Stepping back, we realized that beginners don’t know that they have to declare the types of variables. And why should they? You didn’t have to do that in math class and that all worked out OK.

Beginners are not tied to the restrictions in older programming languages that required you to do so. So why not introduce Values using Type Inference and later show how you can do this in a more verbose way? I wouldn’t have thought of this when we started writing the book, but because our atoms are written to contain single concepts, they are also easy to re-order.

We are really grateful for feedback! Please keep it coming!

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