style guide


As a rule, files should contain a single logical compilation unit. By “logical” I mean a class, trait or object. One exception to this guideline is for classes or traits which have companion objects. Companion objects should be grouped with their corresponding class or trait in the same file. These files should be named according to the class, trait or object they contain:

package com.novell.coolness

class Inbox { ... }

// companion object
object Inbox { ... }

These compilation units should be placed within a file named Inbox.scala within the com/novell/coolness directory. In short, the Java file naming and positioning conventions should be preferred, despite the fact that Scala allows for greater flexibility in this regard.

Multi-Unit Files

Despite what was said above, there are some important situations which warrant the inclusion of multiple compilation units within a single file. One common example is that of a sealed trait and several sub-classes (often emulating the ADT language feature available in functional languages):

sealed trait Option[+A]

case class Some[A](a: A) extends Option[A]

case object None extends Option[Nothing]

Because of the nature of sealed superclasses (and traits), all subtypes must be included in the same file. Thus, such a situation definitely qualifies as an instance where the preference for single-unit files should be ignored.

Another case is when multiple classes logically form a single, cohesive group, sharing concepts to the point where maintenance is greatly served by containing them within a single file. These situations are harder to predict than the aforementioned sealed supertype exception. Generally speaking, if it is easier to perform long-term maintenance and development on several units in a single file rather than spread across multiple, then such an organizational strategy should be preferred for these classes. However, keep in mind that when multiple units are contained within a single file, it is often more difficult to find specific units when it comes time to make changes.

All multi-unit files should be given camelCase names with a lower-case first letter. This is a very important convention. It differentiates multi- from single-unit files, greatly easing the process of finding declarations. These filenames may be based upon a significant type which they contain (e.g. option.scala for the example above), or may be descriptive of the logical property shared by all units within (e.g. ast.scala).