Posts Tagged ‘scala’

CQRS/ES with Scala, Akka and Lift

Wow, more than a year has passed since the last blog post. Time for an update.

When we started creating, we iterated quickly using the ORM built into Lift: Mapper. It is a fairly simple (in a good way!) ORM based on the Active Record pattern. It comes with builtin support for things like CRUD screens etc. This allowed us to create functionality fast, essential in a new company trying to get a product to market.

Fast forward a few years. As product complexity grows, the simplicity of Mapper and the tight coupling of data to UI was becoming a burden. It was not possible to create the more advanced queries without running into the N+1 problem. We also needed to present and edit information in the UI which is not directly related to single records. Basically we are moving towards a more task based UI.

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Lift quick start: Look Ma! No Maven

For the last year or so, I’ve been using the Lift web framework to develop our B2B SaaS application (my experiences can be found here). I’ve enjoyed this very much, especially the community, so when David Pollak asked me to be become a committer I couldn’t say no 🙂

One area where Lift is lacking is in documentation, so I’ll try to write a few posts here that can help people getting started using Lift. I’ll be writing about the workflow we use, since

  1. It works for us
  2. It is not using Maven, a source of some ….. frustration for many

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Scala and Lift – Status after six months

There are many choices to be made when starting a new project. In this post I’ll try to explain our technology choices and the experience we’ve had so far.


One of the nice things about starting a new project in a startup is the freedom of choice when it comes to selecting platform and tools. You can spend an awful lot of time mulling between the different choices, but in the end, it is usually not the choice of programming language that kills a startup.

First, a little background. I’ve been programming for more than 15 years in C++,VB,C#, Java,Perl & PHP. The last 5-6 years it has been mostly enterprise Java. When I started at my last job (another startup) we had a product implemented in Java that we turned into a SaaS platform. The core remained in Java  and much of the web frontend was implemented in PHP. I really liked the productivity we got out of PHP as compared to the Java code. Very fast turnaround times. But somehow the language/platform doesn’t really  turn me on.
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Beware of Scala’s lazy Range in for/yield

I’m currently using Scala for most of our development and like it a lot. Coming from a mostly Java background, it is nice with a familiar execution environment and tools. But there a few things that has bitten me, one which I just spend almost an hour trying to nail. So I’m posting it here hoping it might save somebody in the future.

Scala has a nice mechanism for creating lists with a for comprehension:

val l = for (...) yield computeResult(...)

Basically, l will become the list of return values from computeResult. Cool.

Scala also has Range class that, together with the for comprehension mimics a standard for-loop construct:

for(i <- 1 to 20) { ... } [/sourcecode]


I had the following case. I needed to create some objects in a database and return the results in a list. So I created something that looked like the following:

val databaseObjects = for(i <- 1 to 20) yield { val o = CreateObject o } [/sourcecode] When I ran this code, nothing happened?! I checked the DB, no records to be found anywhere. I tried printing the object o inside the loop. Nothing got printed. Tried the construct in the Scala REPL. Everything worked fine. Then I tried printing databaseObjects.length after the loop. Shows that 20 objects were created. Hmmmm. Then I tried printing all elements of databaseObjects. They were created just fine. Hmmmmm. I recalled  a discussion about the Range being created by the expression "1 to 20" is a lazy data structure which is not evaluated before the results are needed. Turns out this lazyness is contagious (more details can be found here)  Ahhhh. Everything makes sense now, since nothing happened until I tried to actually fetch the objects from the list (and the REPL implicitly retrieves the objects to print out the results!)


The fix is easy, you need to force the lazy range:

val databaseObjects = for(i <- (1 to 20).force) yield { [/sourcecode]

EC2 Continuous Deployment: Building the software

Note: This is the second article in the series on continuous deployment. If you want to start with the overview, go here.

The app we’ll deploy will just be a simple “Hello World” application, written using Lift, a very nice Scala web framework. I will not go into any Scala or Lift specifics in this article, but will  show how to build it.

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EC2 Continuous Deployment: Hello world

I’m a strong believer in agile development and one of the biggest benefits I see is to get working software in front of the customer as fast as possible. The term ‘working’ may mean different things to different people but it does imply that there’s some level of quality that needs to be  achieved.

Many developers consider their job done when they’ve committed a feature and the build is successfull (you do run some sort of CI don’t you?). But this does not bring the software in front of the customer. In many places, doing a production deployment is a large, manual process with lots of opportunities for mistakes, which means that deployments either take longer than necessary or happen infrequently.

Timothy Fitz wrote an interesting entry about Continuous Deployment, basically deploying to production after each commit. While I don’t think deploying to production after every commit is workable for everybody, the idea of actually deploying the latest code automatically is very valuable. This article series will cover the basics on how to get a simple software product deployed automatically.

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