Friday, November 29, 2013

Review of Getting Started with SBT for Scala (Packt-Pub)

I got the opportunity to review a book in the scala domain published by Packt on SBT. I am very glad that so many books are coming up in this domain. SBT is one of the most important components in scala infra. Most, if not all, of the projects use SBT as the build tool in the scala projects. 

The book itself is very well written and has a good flow through out. The installation, running, and structure of SBT has also been explained. There is a very nice history of evolution of all the relevant build tools that are in the industry. I like chapter 1 esp for the way it quickly lets you get into code and start writing simple build scripts and to become aware of the minimum commands in the SBT that you ought to know. The chapter 1 provides intro to run, compile, test, scala REPL with real code examples that are easy to comprehend. One of the most important concepts of SBT has been clearly mentioned- Blank lines act as delimiter in a .sbt file. There are many operators in SBT like :=, +=, ++= etc which can be used in build definitions which has been covered clearly. There are nice tips which are present through out the book. Maven, Ivy has also been introduced. Ivy and its work lifecycle has been explained a bit in detail. I can live without that. Ivy itself is a big topic that can be read separately. The different types of scopes has also been covered. There is also a good list of commands/types in SBT which is presented.

The version's specified in the dependency need not be a single version as SBT is based on Ivy. There can be more constraints on it like 1.0.+ means select latest in 1.0.x in the dependency. This has been mentioned but no adequate examples has been given. I think this could have easily been added in one or two lines in a beginners book. This is a pretty useful feature. Next, scalaz ex in the full build definition is hardly understood. It should have been expanded a bit more. The full build definition chapter itself could have been explained a bit more. It is one of the key functionalities that allows a lot of flexibility in SBT. The multi project builds in that chapter has been explained well though.

Overall, I like the book. It gets you started in SBT as the title states pretty quickly. No book can replace your own research and work. This book can definitely serve as a quick reference to common commands, operators etc when in need after you have learned and worked with SBT.

The book is available on packt-pub here.

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