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Just Enough Scala for Spark

Join the chat at

  • Added instructions for using Podman, fixed image version, Spark 3.2.1, July, 2022
  • Minor updates and bug fixes, April, 2021
  • Spark Summit San Francisco, June 5, 2017
  • Strata London, May 23, 2017
  • Strata San Jose, March 14, 2017
  • Strata Singapore, December 6, 2016
  • Strata NYC, September 27, 2016

Dean Wampler, Ph.D.
Chaoran Yu taught this tutorial at a few conferences, too.

NOTE: It appears the jupyter/all-spark-notebook images are no longer built with Scala support, as of July 2022. These instructions use the last image released with Scala support, also supporting Spark 3.2.1.

François Sarradin (@fsarradin) and colleagues translated this tutorial to French. You can find it here.

This tutorial now uses a Docker image with Jupyter and Spark, for a much more robust, easy to use, and "industry standard" experience.

This tutorial covers the most important features and idioms of Scala you need to use Apache Spark's Scala APIs. Because Spark is written in Scala, Spark is driving interest in Scala, especially for data engineers. Data scientists sometimes use Scala, but most use Python or R.


  1. If you're taking this tutorial at a conference, it's essential that you set up the tutorial ahead of time, as there won't be time during the session to work on any problems.
  2. Use the Gitter chat room to ask for help or post issues to the GitHub repo if you have trouble installing or running the tutorial.
  3. If all else fails, there is a PDF of the tutorial in the notebooks directory.


I'll assume you have prior programming experience, in any language. Some familiarity with Java is assumed, but if you don't know Java, you should be able to search for explanations for anything unfamiliar.

This isn't an introduction to Spark itself. Some prior exposure to Spark is helpful, but I'll briefly explain most Spark concepts we'll encounter, too.

Throughout, you'll find links to more information on important topics.

Download the Tutorial

Begin by cloning or downloading the tutorial GitHub project

About Jupyter with Spark

This tutorial uses a Docker image that combines the popular Jupyter notebook environment with all the tools you need to run Spark, including the Scala language, called the All Spark Notebook. It bundles Apache Toree to provide Spark and Scala access. The webpage for this Docker image discusses useful information like using Python as well as Scala, user authentication topics, running your Spark jobs on clusters, rather than local mode, etc.

There are other notebook options you might investigate for your needs:

Open source:

  • Polynote - A cross-language notebook environment with built-in Scala support. Developed by Netflix.
  • Jupyter + BeakerX - a powerful set of extensions for Jupyter.
  • Zeppelin - a popular tool in big data environments


  • Databricks - a feature-rich, commercial, cloud-based service from the creators of Spark

Running the Tutorial

If you need to install Docker or the popular replacement, Podman.

Using Docker

Follow the Docker installation instructions. The community edition is sufficient. Then start the docker daemon on your machine, as instructed.

Using Podman

Follow the Podman installation instructions.

NOTE: I don't have access to a Windows machine so I have not tested using Podman on Windows with this tutorial. Caveat emptor.

A few other steps are recommended or required.

First, if you plan to use podman instead of docker, it's convenient to alias the docker commands to corresponding podman commands:

alias docker=podman
alias docker-compose=podman-compose

Similar commands can be used for Windows. If you choose not to do this, just substitute podman for docker in the commands, shell scripts, and bat scripts discussed below.

Also, you'll need to initialize a Podman virtual machine. First, see if the default machine was already created by the installer. If so, we'll replace it with a "beefier" one.

podman system connection list     # List the VMs defined

Do you see the following output?

Name                         URI                                                         Identity                                        Default
podman-machine-default       ssh://core@localhost:53933/run/user/501/podman/podman.sock  /Users/.../.ssh/podman-machine-default  true
podman-machine-default-root  ssh://root@localhost:53933/run/podman/podman.sock           /Users/.../.ssh/podman-machine-default  false

In this case, run this rm command to delete it:

podman machine rm podman-machine-default

Now use the following commands to create the podman-machine-default with more resources and then start it running:

podman machine init --memory=4000 --cpus=4 -v $HOME:$HOME
podman machine start

Tip: Run podman machine stop when you are finished with the tutorial.

When you start the machine, you might see the following output:

$ podman machine start
Starting machine "podman-machine-default"
Waiting for VM ...
Mounting volume... /Users/...:/Users/...

This machine is currently configured in rootless mode. If your containers
require root permissions (e.g. ports < 1024), or if you run into compatibility
issues with non-podman clients, you can switch using the following command:

    podman machine set --rootful

API forwarding listening on: /Users/.../.local/share/containers/podman/machine/podman-machine-default/podman.sock

The system helper service is not installed; the default Docker API socket
address can't be used by podman. If you would like to install it run the
following commands:

    sudo /opt/homebrew/Cellar/podman/4.1.1/bin/podman-mac-helper install
    podman machine stop; podman machine start

You can still connect Docker API clients by setting DOCKER_HOST using the
following command in your terminal session:

    export DOCKER_HOST='unix:///Users/.../.local/share/containers/podman/machine/podman-machine-default/podman.sock'

Machine "podman-machine-default" started successfully

Don't use the --rootful option, at least for this tutorial, as it is incompatible with a flag passed to podman run below, --userns=keep-id, which is required to be able to write updates to the notebooks.

If you are on a Mac, the podman-mac-helper may be useful:

podman machine stop
sudo /opt/homebrew/Cellar/podman/4.1.1/bin/podman-mac-helper install
podman machine start

Setting DOCKER_HOST is done for you in the script (discussed below) for MacOS and Linux. For Windows, you may need to set this in your environment. This is not done in run-podman.bat.

Note: I don't have access to a Windows machine so I have not tested using Podman on Windows.

Running the Docker Image

Use these steps for both docker and podman.

It's important to follow the next steps carefully. We're going to mount the working directory in the running container so it's accessible inside the running container in a convenient place. We'll need it for our notebook, our data, etc.

  • In the same terminal window, change to the directory where you expanded the tutorial project or cloned the repo.
  • Run the following command to download and run the Docker image:
    • for both docker and podman on MacOS and Linux
    • run-docker.bat to use docker on Windows
    • run-podman.bat to use podman on Windows

The MacOS and Linux script executes these commands for podman:

export DOCKER_HOST="unix:///$HOME/.local/share/containers/podman/machine/podman-machine-default/podman.sock"
podman run -it --rm \
  -p 8888:8888 -p 4040:4040 -p 4041:4041 -p 4042:4042 \
  --cpus=3.0 --memory=3500M \
  --userns=keep-id \
  -v "$PWD":/home/jovyan/work \
  jupyter/all-spark-notebook:spark-3.2.0 \

The first command (note the line continuation...) checks if you are using podman and sets the DOCKER_HOST environment variable, which I found to be necessary. You might try just running the docker run command to see if you really need this.

The Windows run.bat command is similar, but uses Windows conventions and does not attempt to set DOCKER_HOST.

The -p 8888:8888 -p 4040:4040 -p 4041:4041 -p 4042:4042 arguments "tunnel" ports 8888 and 4040-4042 out of the container to your local environment, so you can get to the Jupyter UI at port 8888 and the Spark driver UIs at 4040-4042.

Note: Here we use just one notebook, so tunneling 4040 is all you will probably need. However, if you create up to two more Spark notebooks concurrently, the second will select available port 4041 and the third will use 4042. Hence, the scripts tunnel these ports for your convenience.

The --cpus=... --memory=... arguments were added because the notebook "kernel" is prone to crashing with the default, smaller values. Edit to taste to see what works best for you. For example, previously we used --cpus=2.0 --memory=2000M, but machines are bigger now :) Also, it will help conserve resources to keep only one Spark notebook open at a time.

The --userns=keep-id appears to be necessary to allow you to save updates to the notebook. Otherwise, you get permissions errors. See also the Troubleshooting section below and this blog post for more information on why this is necessary. This flag isn't used for docker, because it doesn't appear necessary, although it may be "harmless".

The -v $PWD:/home/jovyan/work tells Docker to mount the current working directory inside the container as /home/jovyan/work, where /home/jovyan is the default user's home directory. When you open the notebook UI (discussed below), this is the top-level folder you will see.

We are using the image tagged spark-3.2.0, which actually supports Spark 3.2.1. Unfortunately, the jupyter/all-spark-notebook image builds dropped Spark support in July 2022. :(

Finally, you can pass other arguments to which are passed to docker or podmanas flags or a command to run. For example, passing ls -al work/notebooks will show you what the file permissions look like for the notebooks from inside the container.

Okay! After starting, you should see output similar to the following:

Unable to find image 'jupyter/all-spark-notebook:spark-3.2.0' locally
latest: Pulling from jupyter/all-spark-notebook
    Copy/paste this URL into your browser when you connect for the first time,
    to login with a token:

Now copy and paste the full localhost:8888 URL shown in a browser window.

Tip: Your terminal might let you ⌘-click or CTRL-click the URL to open it in a browser.

Warning: When you quit the container at the end of the tutorial, all your changes will be lost, unless they are in or under the local directory that we mounted. To save notebooks you defined in other locations, export them using the File > Download as > Notebook menu item in toolbar.

Running the Tutorial

Warning: It appears that the Jupyter magics in the notebook no longer work. I have added comments and workarounds.

Now we can load the tutorial. Once you open the Jupyter UI, you'll see the work listed. Click once to open it, then open notebooks, then click on the tutorial notebook, JustEnoughScalaForSpark.ipynb. It will open in a new tab. (The PDF is a print out of the notebook, in case you have trouble running the notebook itself.)

You'll notice there is a box around the first "cell". This cell has one line of source code println("Hello World!"). Above this cell is a toolbar with a button that has a right-pointing arrow and the word run. Click that button to run this code cell. Or, use the menu item Cell > Run Cells.

After many seconds, once initialization has completed, it will print the output, Hello World! just below the input text field.

Do the same thing for the next box. It should print [merrywivesofwindsor, twelfthnight, midsummersnightsdream, loveslabourslost, asyoulikeit, comedyoferrors, muchadoaboutnothing, tamingoftheshrew], the contents of the /home/jovyan/work/data/shakespeare folder, the texts for several of Shakespeare's plays. We'll use these files as data.

Warning: If you see [] or null printed instead, the mounting of the current working directory did not work correctly when the container was started. In the terminal window, use control-c to exit from the Docker container, make sure you are in the root directory of the project (data and notebooks should be subdirectories), restart the docker image, and make sure you enter the command exactly as shown.

If these steps worked, you're done setting up the tutorial!


"Error Response" on Windows

When using Docker on Windows, you may get the following error: C:\Program Files\Docker\Docker\Resources\bin\docker.exe: Error response from daemon: D: drive is not shared. Please share it in Docker for Windows Settings. If so, do the following. On your tray, next to your clock, right-click on Docker, then click on Settings. You'll see the Shared Drives. Mark your drive and hit apply. See this Docker forum thread for more tips.

No Permissions to Save Notebook Updates (Podman)

This is why the --userns=keep-id is used when running with podman. It should prevent the error that when you save your work, you get a permissions error. Please open an issue if you encounter this problem.

While investigating this issue previously, before discovering the --userns=keep-id flag, I found the following two (flawed) workarounds, both of which start with File > Save As:

  1. Save the file to the same notebooks directory: This appears to fail. You get an error dialog that the file couldn't be written, but in fact it was written. However, this only works once for a given target file. It won't be updated again and you still can't just save changes directly to it.
  2. Save and write the notebook to "root" folder as shown in the Jupyter UI, which is actually the /home/jovyan home directory in the container. That allows you to save changes and use features like print. However any changes to the notebook in this directory will be lost when you quit, so you'll have to use File > Save Notebook As to download the latest version to your machine.

Getting Help

If you're having problems, use the Gitter chat room to ask for help. If you are reasonably certain you have found a bug, post an issue to the GitHub repo. Recall that the notebooks directory also has a PDF of the notebook that you can read when the notebook won't work for some reason.

What's Next?

You are now ready to go through the tutorial.

Don't want to run Spark Notebook to learn the material? A PDF printout of the notebook can also be found in the notebooks directory.

Feedback, bug reports, and pull requests are welcome! Thanks.

Dean Wampler


A tutorial on the most important features and idioms of Scala that you need to use Spark's Scala APIs.








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