Scala vs Java: Features, Applications, And Difference


September 1, 2021


August 11th, 2023

As of August 2021, according to the TIOBE Index, of the top 100 programming languages, the top JVM languages are Java, Groovy, Scala, Kotlin, and Clojure.

If we talk about programming languages that use JVM, you will often find these languages at the top as they are quite popular JVM-based languages. These languages are often compared with each other and have similarities and dissimilarities between them in terms of syntax, programming paradigm, appearance, and philosophy.

We all know that Java is a great, widely-adopted, and immensely popular programming language used by a large number of apps, programs, and systems. Here, in this article, we are comparing Scala, a popular JVM-based language with Java. While we know that Scala is significantly less popular than the Java language and Java development, but here, we are trying to know Scala better with all its features, its popularity, and how it is different from Java.

Let’s first see what Scala is and where it is used.

What Is Scala?

Scala is a statically-typed general-purpose programming language that supports both – object-oriented programming and functional programming. Scala is a JVM-based language that is influenced by Java, Common Lisp, Scheme, Java, Haskell, and several others. Scala is designed to address loopholes in Java with advanced features that are not present in Java. Scala runs on Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and it is compatible with existing Java programs.

Do You Know?

The name Scala is a blend of two words, Scalable and language, representing that Scala is scalable and designed to grow as per the requirements of users.

A Little History Of Scala:

Scala was released publicly in 2004 on the Java Platform after an internal release in 2003. It was designed by Martin Odersky who had previously worked on Generic Java and javac, Java compiler. It quickly grew in popularity due to its language interoperability and functional programming paradigm. Scala’s recent stable release, Scala 3 has been released with great features and improvements.

Features Of Scala Programming Language

  • High-level, concise, and modern programming language
  • Interoperability with Java enables the use of libraries written in either language
  • It’s statistically typed and has a sophisticated type interface system
  • Object-oriented also supports functional programming and a combination of both the paradigm
  • It’s concise, readable, and expressive language
  • Built-in best practices and patterns
  • Less boilerplate and well-designed code structure

What Makes Scala Unique?

Here are some points that justify Scala’s uniqueness:

  • All operators are functions in Scala
  • Lazy computation
  • Each declared variable is immutable by default
  • Type interface system
  • String interpolation
  • Hybrid of functional programming and OOP
  • Fast, efficient, and robust language

What Kind Of Applications Can Be Built With Scala?

Scala is suitable for web apps, data analytics, and enterprise applications, and desktop applications. It is a great choice for distributed and concurrent programming. As it supports both, FP and OOP, it is a perfect fit for real-time streaming processes and programs. It is a versatile, general-purpose programming language, making it easier to build high-performant apps ranging from machine learning to desktop apps.

Who Uses Scala?

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Accenture
  • Coursera
  • Glovo
  • Nubank
  • Delivery Hero
  • Airbnb
  • SoundCloud
  • Meetup
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Verizon
  • Apple Inc.
  • The New York Times

Now, let’s quickly navigate through Java and its features.

Java Programming Language – A Quick Introduction

Java is a class-based, high-level, object-oriented, and general-purpose programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems. Java is one of the most popular programming languages and lets developers write once, run anywhere. Java is steadily on the top from mid-2015 to 2020 due to its diverse capabilities and usage across data centers, android app development, dynamic web apps, game consoles, and even supercomputers. Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle in 2010, and since then, Java is owned and maintained by Oracle Corporation.

What Makes Java Popular? Here Are Major Features Of Java

  • Simple, easy-to-learn, and easy-to-code
  • Platform-independent in nature, programs can run on different platforms with the help of JRE(Java Runtime Environment)
  • An object-oriented programming language with a modular approach
  • It possesses a rich and extensive set of APIs and libraries
  • Backed by a strong and active community of developers and tech enthusiasts
  • Suitable for almost everything – data science apps, machine learning apps, IoT, dynamic and rich web apps, android apps, real-time data-centric apps, and more
  • Scalable, secure, and stable language and evolving even after 26 years
  • Java is not only a language, it’s a huge ecosystem that includes the biggest organizations that use Java, a strong community, and a large number of developers
  • Java is a prime example in the software world for stability and innovation together
  • It is a go-to programming language for every programmer for almost all types of apps

If we talk about the popularity of Java, there is hardly any language except C and C++ that can beat Java in terms of use and popularity.

Where Java Is Used? Who Uses Java?

Java’s presence is everywhere – on mobiles, desktops, games, large-scale industrial applications, IoT, scientific applications, big data apps, and so on. It has been in the market for more than 20 years, so it is quite obvious to see many enterprises, retailers, manufacturers, banks, and financial companies relied on Java. World-famous organizations use Java in one or another way. Many new programming languages are also inspired by Java.

Companies that use Java:

  • Google
  • Twitter
  • Airbnb
  • Instagram
  • Spotify
  • Amazon
  • Slack
  • Uber
  • Netflix
  • eBay

Java Is Suitable For:

  • Robust, scalable server-side development
  • Embedded apps and IoT
  • Scientific applications
  • Real-time data-centric apps
  • Android apps
  • Financial and trading apps
  • Microservices-based apps

After going through the introduction and features, you might have an idea about their differences and similarities. Let’s differentiate both in detail.


Scala vs Java: A Detailed Comparison Between Two JVM Languages

We are comparing Scala with Java based on certain parameters such as paradigm, community, tools & frameworks, learning curve, concurrency model, performance, and how they handle errors.

  • Paradigm:

One of the major aims of developing Scala was overcoming Java’s criticisms. This is the reason Scala supports multi-paradigm as it lets developers explore functional and OOP together. On the other hand, Java is an object-oriented programming language and does not use functional programming.

This is one of the key differences between both these languages.

  • Learning Curve:

Java is an immensely popular language but it is not compact. You need to write many lines of code even if you want to execute a small program. Unlike Java, Scala’s syntax is concise yet readable. Scala code can easily replace the verbose code of Java with a fewer number of lines of code. But, Java is easy to learn and master while Scala is not that friendly for beginners. It is slightly complicated than Java and has a steep learning curve.

Those who are coming from a Java background may find it easy to learn and code in Scala. However, Scala code is a little bit complex than Java because it is not verbose.

  • Community:

Java is more mature, stable, and widely used than Scala. Although, Scala is backed by a strong community of developers, organizations, and individuals. The Scala language is maintained by Scala Center at EPFL that focuses on documentation, education, open-source community, and its association with different organizations.

Java enjoys a prominent place in the market for many years and it has a very strong and wide community of developers across the world. The Scala ecosystem also includes a huge number of projects and contributors from all over the world. It is an open-source project with a diverse community that focuses on making Scala better.

  • Tools & Frameworks:

Seeing Java’s popularity and existence over the years, it has an extensive range of libraries, packages, tools, and development environments. Popular Java IDEs for Java include Eclipse, Android Studio, Apache Spark, Jenkins, and many more. Some of the most popular Scala frameworks are Play, Scalatra, Lift, and Grails.

  • Concurrency Model:

When it comes to thread communication and processing, Java allows concurrent running threads – parallel execution of two or more parts of the program. Contrary to this, Scala uses an actor model structure that promotes no shared state architecture. Think of each object as an actor with its unique properties, mailbox, and behavior.

  • Error Handling:

Java provides error handling and even creates chain exceptions for specific types of failures. In Scala, it is more flexible to handle errors as developers have multiple ways to do that.

  • Performance:

It depends on the app size, functions, and other parameters. However, both languages are powerful and interoperate well with each other. Scala code looks cleaner and shorter than Java. Scala offers powerful expressive features that you can leverage to build high-performant apps.

Hello World Program In Both Languages:

Let’s see how code style and length differ in Scala and Java.

public class Example {
public static void main(String[] args) {
System.out.println("Hello World!");

object Example {
def main(args: Array[String]): Unit = {
println("Hello World!")

Here, there is no such notable difference but when you see more code and practical examples, Scala can replace Java’s 20 lines of code in less than 10 lines.

Scala vs Java: A Quick Comparison

Parameters Scala Java
Designed by Martin Odersky James Gosling
Developer Programming Methods Laboratory of EPFL Oracle Corporation
First Release January 2004 May 1995
Paradigm Multi-paradigm, functional, object-oriented Generic, object-oriented, imperative
Language Goals Designed to address loopholes in Java, supports both – functional programming and OOP Write once, run anywhere functionality, robust, secure, and architecture-neutral language
Popularity One of the top JVM languages and used by well-known companies One of the most popular programming languages with a huge number of developers and applications across the world
Code Concise code Verbose and long-form code
Concurrency Model Actor model concurrency Traditional thread-based concurrency model
Learning Curve Complex code and difficult to learn Easy learning curve
Supported Frameworks Play, Lift Spring, Grails, Vaadin, Angular, ASP.NET MVC, Struts, Hibernate, jQuery, and many more
Hiring Ease A few numbers of skilled developers compared to Java A large pool of proficient developers and easy to hire
Suitability A great choice for distributed and concurrent programming as well real-time data-centric apps Suitable for all types of apps and also a primary language for android development


Backward Compatibility No support It does support
Adaptability and Interoperability Not easily adaptable language and interoperates well with Java language Easily adaptable and works well with the diverse third-party tools and libraries

Scala vs Java: What To Choose And When?

As we have always said, the choice of language and frameworks depend on the requirements and other parameters. Both languages have powerful features and a huge user base and their limitations and strengths.

This article helps you understand languages well so you can know the potential of language to create an app of your requirements. Both are popular and used for a wide number of tasks and apps. Java enjoys its position on the top with even more flexibility than ever before and on the other hand, Scala is still evolving and focuses on resiliency and stability.

Scala on the code front, allows a developer to write better, shorter code that can be easily debugged and tested. It requires less time to write code if you are a skilled Scala developer. Java itself became a huge ecosystem because of its 25 years of existence. However, the choice is subjective and requires many factors to be considered before you make a decision.

Have you developed any app using Scala?

What would you prefer – Java or Scala?

Share your thoughts with us!

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