I started my career as a Java developer back in 2011. I developed most of my code in the 1.7 version of Java. Around 2014, I switched to full-time Scala and have not programmed in Java ever since.
Java used to be a slow-moving language that had started lagging behind the other languages. Scala kind of filled that gap of modern language on a JVM. But in the last few years, it has changed. There is a new version of Java every 6 months and it has been getting new features at a very rapid pace. So I thought it will be interesting to go back to Java now and see how it has evolved compared to Java 7.
So in this series of posts, I will be talking about new features of Java from a Scala developer’s point of view. I will be using Java 17, the latest LTS version, for these examples.
This is the first post in the series where I will be talking about type inference improvements added to Java. You can find all the posts in the series here.
You can also consume this blog as video on YouTube.
Java and Verbosity
One of the main complaints of any Java developer is its verbosity. This verbosity is very evident in the type declaration.
In the above example, we are telling the type of list as String multiple times which leads to a lot of verbosity.
Type Inference in Scala
Scala greatly simplifies this verbosity using type inference
Here using val, we are telling Scala the type only once or infer from the value. Using RHS, Scala will automatically infer the type of variable.
Type Inference in Java
In Java 10, java has added a new feature called Local variable type inference, which simplifies the verbosity.
Now by using, var keyword, developer can skip the left hand side type. Here var is appropriate compared to val of Scala, as all the variables in Java are mutable by default.
The same type inference can be used for built in value assignments also.
From the above examples, you can see that type inference can be used with various types of values and objects.
This type of inference is not as powerful as Scala as these are limited to a local variable with initialisation. These are not supported for things like method/function return types which is supported in Scala. Still, this greatly reduces the verbosity of Java code and improves readability.
The complete code for the above examples can be found on Github, in the below links.
In this post, we looked at how Java compiler can now do local variable type inference which reduces the verbosity of code. It is very similar to Scala type inference.