style guide

Declarations

Classes

Class/Object/Trait constructors should be declared all on one line, unless the line becomes “too long” (about 100 characters). In that case, put each constructor argument on its own line, indented four spaces:

class Person(name: String, age: Int) {
}

class Person(
    name: String,
    age: Int,
    birthdate: Date,
    astrologicalSign: String,
    shoeSize: Int,
    favoriteColor: java.awt.Color) {
  def firstMethod: Foo = ...
}

If a class/object/trait extends anything, the same general rule applies, put it one one line unless it goes over about 100 characters, and then indent four spaces with each item being on its own line and two spaces for extensions; this provides visual separation between constructor arguments and extensions.:

class Person(
    name: String,
    age: Int,
    birthdate: Date,
    astrologicalSign: String,
    shoeSize: Int,
    favoriteColor: java.awt.Color) 
  extends Entity
  with Logging
  with Identifiable
  with Serializable {
}

Ordering Of Class Elements

All class/object/trait members should be declared interleaved with newlines. The only exceptions to this rule are var and val. These may be declared without the intervening newline, but only if none of the fields have ScalaDoc and if all of the fields have simple (max of 20-ish chars, one line) definitions:

class Foo {
  val bar = 42
  val baz = "Daniel"

  def doSomething(): Unit = { ... }

  def add(x: Int, y: Int): Int = x + y
}

Fields should precede methods in a scope. The only exception is if the val has a block definition (more than one expression) and performs operations which may be deemed “method-like” (e.g. computing the length of a List). In such cases, the non-trivial val may be declared at a later point in the file as logical member ordering would dictate. This rule only applies to val and lazy val! It becomes very difficult to track changing aliases if var declarations are strewn throughout class file.

Methods

Methods should be declared according to the following pattern:

def foo(bar: Baz): Bin = expr

Methods with default parameter values should be declared in an analogous fashion, with a space on either side of the equals sign:

def foo(x: Int = 6, y: Int = 7): Int = x + y

You should specify a return type for all public members. Consider it documentation checked by the compiler. It also helps in preserving binary compatibility in the face of changing type inference (changes to the method implementation may propagate to the return type if it is inferred).

Local methods or private methods may omit their return type:

private def foo(x: Int = 6, y: Int = 7) = x + y

Procedure Syntax

Avoid the procedure syntax, as it tends to be confusing for very little gain in brevity.

// don't do this
def printBar(bar: Baz) {
  println(bar)
}

// write this instead
def printBar(bar: Bar): Unit = {
  println(bar)
}

Modifiers

Method modifiers should be given in the following order (when each is applicable):

  1. Annotations, each on their own line
  2. Override modifier (override)
  3. Access modifier (protected, private)
  4. Final modifier (final)
  5. def
@Transaction
@throws(classOf[IOException])
override protected final def foo() { 
  ...
}

Body

When a method body comprises a single expression which is less than 30 (or so) characters, it should be given on a single line with the method:

def add(a: Int, b: Int): Int = a + b

When the method body is a single expression longer than 30 (or so) characters but still shorter than 70 (or so) characters, it should be given on the following line, indented two spaces:

def sum(ls: List[String]): Int =
  ls.map(_.toInt).foldLeft(0)(_ + _)

The distinction between these two cases is somewhat artificial. Generally speaking, you should choose whichever style is more readable on a case-by-case basis. For example, your method declaration may be very long, while the expression body may be quite short. In such a case, it may be more readable to put the expression on the next line rather than making the declaration line too long.

When the body of a method cannot be concisely expressed in a single line or is of a non-functional nature (some mutable state, local or otherwise), the body must be enclosed in braces:

def sum(ls: List[String]): Int = {
  val ints = ls map (_.toInt)
  ints.foldLeft(0)(_ + _)
}

Methods which contain a single match expression should be declared in the following way:

// right!
def sum(ls: List[Int]): Int = ls match {
  case hd :: tail => hd + sum(tail)
  case Nil => 0
}

Not like this:

// wrong!
def sum(ls: List[Int]): Int = {
  ls match {
    case hd :: tail => hd + sum(tail)
    case Nil => 0
  }
}

Multiple Parameter Lists

In general, you should only use multiple parameter lists if there is a good reason to do so. These methods (or similarly declared functions) have a more verbose declaration and invocation syntax and are harder for less-experienced Scala developers to understand.

There are three main reasons you should do this:

  1. For a fluent API

    Multiple parameter lists allow you to create your own “control structures”:

    def unless(exp: Boolean)(code: => Unit): Unit = if (!exp) code
    unless(x < 5) { 
      println("x was not less than five")
    }
  2. Implicit Parameters

    When using implicit parameters, and you use the implicit keyword, it applies to the entire parameter list. Thus, if you want only some parameters to be implicit, you must use multiple parameter lists.

  3. For type inference

    When invoking a method using only some of the parameter lists, the type inferencer can allow a simpler syntax when invoking the remaining parameter lists. Consider fold:

    def foldLeft[B](z: B)(op: (A,B) => B): B
    List("").foldLeft(0)(_ + _.length)
    
    // If, instead:
    def foldLeft[B](z: B, op: (B, A) => B): B
    // above won't work, you must specify types
    List("").foldLeft(0, (b: Int, a: String) => a + b.length)
    List("").foldLeft[Int](0, _ + _.length)

For complex DSLs, or with type-names that are long, it can be difficult to fit the entire signature on one line. In those cases, alight the open-paren of the parameter lists, one list per line (i.e. if you can’t put them all on one line, put one each per line):

protected def forResource(resourceInfo: Any)
                         (f: (JsonNode) => Any) 
                         (implicit urlCreator: URLCreator, configurer: OAuthConfiguration): Any = {
  ...
}

Higher-Order Functions

It’s worth keeping in mind when declaring higher-order functions the fact that Scala allows a somewhat nicer syntax for such functions at call-site when the function parameter is curried as the last argument. For example, this is the foldl function in SML:

fun foldl (f: ('b * 'a) -> 'b) (init: 'b) (ls: 'a list) = ...

In Scala, the preferred style is the exact inverse:

def foldLeft[A, B](ls: List[A])(init: B)(f: (B, A) => B): B = ...

By placing the function parameter last, we have enabled invocation syntax like the following:

foldLeft(List(1, 2, 3, 4))(0)(_ + _)

The function value in this invocation is not wrapped in parentheses; it is syntactically quite disconnected from the function itself (foldLeft). This style is preferred for its brevity and cleanliness.

Fields

Fields should follow the declaration rules for methods, taking special note of access modifier ordering and annotation conventions.

Lazy vals should use the lazy keyword directly before the val:

private lazy val foo = bar()

Function Values

Scala provides a number of different syntactic options for declaring function values. For example, the following declarations are exactly equivalent:

  1. val f1 = ((a: Int, b: Int) => a + b)
  2. val f2 = (a: Int, b: Int) => a + b
  3. val f3 = (_: Int) + (_: Int)
  4. val f4: (Int, Int) => Int = (_ + _)

Of these styles, (1) and (4) are to be preferred at all times. (2) appears shorter in this example, but whenever the function value spans multiple lines (as is normally the case), this syntax becomes extremely unwieldy. Similarly, (3) is concise, but obtuse. It is difficult for the untrained eye to decipher the fact that this is even producing a function value.

When styles (1) and (4) are used exclusively, it becomes very easy to distinguish places in the source code where function values are used. Both styles make use of parentheses, since they look clean on a single line.

Spacing

There should be no space between parentheses and the code they contain.
Curly braces should be separated from the code within them by a one-space gap, to give the visually busy braces “breathing room”.

Multi-Expression Functions

Most function values are less trivial than the examples given above. Many contain more than one expression. In such cases, it is often more readable to split the function value across multiple lines. When this happens, only style (1) should be used, substituting braces for parentheses. Style (4) becomes extremely difficult to follow when enclosed in large amounts of code. The declaration itself should loosely follow the declaration style for methods, with the opening brace on the same line as the assignment or invocation, while the closing brace is on its own line immediately following the last line of the function. Parameters should be on the same line as the opening brace, as should the “arrow” (=>):

val f1 = { (a: Int, b: Int) =>
  val sum = a + b
  sum
}

As noted earlier, function values should leverage type inference whenever possible.