A half-day workshop on Scalding, the Scala API for Cascading
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Scalding Workshop/Tutorial README

Dean Wampler, Lightbend

Scalding logo

About this Workshop/Tutorial

This session is a half-day tutorial on Scalding and its place in the Hadoop ecosystem. Scalding is a Scala API developed at Twitter for distributed data programming that uses the Cascading Java API, which in turn sits on top of Hadoop's Java API. However, Scalding, through Cascading, also offers a local mode that makes it easy to run jobs without using the Hadoop libraries, for simpler testing and learning. We'll use this feature for most of this session.

Getting Started

We use sbt, the de facto Scala build tool, to resolve dependencies (such as the Scalding and Cascading jars), and to compile the one Hadoop example (but not the rest of the exercises...). You will need to install Git, Java, Scala, and sbt for this workshop, as we discuss next.

Please do the following installation steps before the workshop!

It helps to pick a work directory where you will install some of the packages. In what follows, we'll assume you're using $HOME/fun on Linux, Mac OSX, or Cygwin for Windows with the bash shell (or a similar shell) or you are using C:\fun on Windows.


You'll need git to clone the workshop repository and optionally for other installs. See Getting Started Installing Git for details.

This Workshop

Once git is installed, clone this workshop from GitHub. Use your favorite Git GUI or the command line. Using bash:

cd $HOME/fun
git clone git://github.com/deanwampler/scalding-workshop.git

On Windows:

cd C:\fun
git clone git://github.com/deanwampler/scalding-workshop.git

Java v1.7 or Better

If it's not already installed, install Java from java.com.

Scala v2.11.7 (or v2.10.6)

We'll use a build of Scalding for Scala v2.11.7 (although you can also use Scala v2.10.6). Install Scala following the instructions here.


See the website for sbt for installation instructions. Actually, what you install is a driver Java program. The actual version of sbt used will be bootstrapped for the project...

Setting Up The Project and a Sanity Check

Once you've completed these steps, we need to "bootstrap" the project with sbt and then run a "sanity check" script, our exercise 0.

The first of the following three commands changes to the root directory of the workshop. (We'll spend the whole session working in this directory.) The second command runs sbt to create an "assembly" (an all-inclusive jar file with all the dependent jars we need included - well, most of them...). Finally, the third and last command runs the sanity check script. We'll run it using a Scala script called run in the root directory of the project, which we'll use for all the exercises.

Using bash (assuming you installed the workshop in $HOME/fun):

cd $HOME/fun/scalding-workshop
sbt assembly
./run scripts/SanityCheck0.scala

On Windows (assuming you installed the workshop in C:\fun):

cd C:\fun\scalding-workshop
sbt assembly
scala run scripts/SanityCheck0.scala

The commands should run without error. If you get an error like sbt not found or scala not found, make sure these tools are on your command "path".

The sbt assembly command first runs an update task, which downloads all the dependencies, using the specification in project/Build.scala. You'll see lots of messages as it tries different repositories. Note that these dependencies will be downloaded to your $HOME/.ivy2 directory (on *nix systems). This may take a while to run!!

Next, the assembly task builds an all-inclusive "jar" (Java ARchive) file that includes all the dependencies, including Scalding and Hadoop. This jar file makes it easier to run Scalding scripts on Hadoop, because it simplifies working with dependency jars and the CLASSPATH. The output of assembly is target/ScaldingWorkshop-X.Y.Z.jar, where X.Y.Z will be the current version number for the workshop.

For completeness, note also that the version of sbt itself is specified in project/build.properties. There is also a project/plugins.sbt file that specifies some sbt plugins we use.

Finally, the run Scala script takes a moment to compile the Scalding script and then run it. The output is written to output/SanityCheck0.txt. (What's in that file?)

If you have Ruby installed on your system, there is a port of run in Ruby called run.rb. To use it, just replace the run command above with run.rb, for the *nix bash shell, or for Windows, use ruby run.rb instead of scala run.

See the Appendix below for "optional installs", if you decide to use Scalding after the tutorial you'll want to install some of these packages.

NOTE: There is now an interpreter "shell" mode available for Scalding. See the Scalding README for details.

Next Steps

You can now start with the workshop itself. Go to the companion Workshop page.

Notes on Releases


Upgraded to Scala v2.11.7, with optional support for v2.10.6, SBT 0.13.9, and upgraded dependencies like Algebird. However, adopting the newer features of Scalding, like the Typed API and the REPL/shell, haven't been adopted. Pull requests welcome!


Moved to Scala v2.10.3 and Scalding v0.9.0rc4. Refined some of the exercises and added one that uses Scalding's newer "type-safe" API.


Moved to Scala v2.10.2 and Scalding v0.8.6. Completely reworked the build process and the script running process. Refined many of the exercises.


Added a file missing from distribution. Refined the run scripts to work better with different Java versions.


Refined several exercises and fixed bugs. Added Makefile for building releases. (Since removed...)


First release for the StrangeLoop 2012 workshop.

For Further Information

See the Scalding GitHub page for more information about Scalding. The wiki is indispensable. The Scaladocs for Scalding are here.

I'm Dean Wampler from Lightbend. I prepared this workshop. Send me email with questions about the workshop or for information about consulting and training on Scala, Scalding, the Lightbend Reactive Platform, and other Hadoop and Big Data technologies.

Some of the data used in these exercises was obtained from InfoChimps.

NOTE: The first version of this workshop was written while I worked at Think Big Analytics. The original and now obsolete fork of the workshop is here.

Dean Wampler

Appendix - Optional Installs

If you're serious about using Scalding, you should clone and build the Scalding repo itself. We'll talk briefly about it in the workshop, but it isn't required.

Scalding from GitHub

Clone Scalding from GitHub. Using bash and assuming you'll clone it into $HOME/fun:

cd $HOME/fun
git clone https://github.com/twitter/scalding.git

Windows is similar.

Ruby v1.8.7 or v1.9.X

Ruby is used as a platform-independent language for driver scripts by Scalding (e.g., their scripts/scald.rb). See ruby-lang.org for details on installing Ruby. Either version 1.8.7 or 1.9.X will work.

Build Scalding

Build Scalding according to its Getting Started page. By default, Twitter builds with Scala v2.9.3, but Scalding builds with 2.10.2 and the project/Build.scala file can be edited for this version.

Edit project/Build.scala. Near the top, you'll see a line scalaVersion := 2.9.2 and next to it, a commented line for version 2.10.0. Comment out the line with 2.9.2 and uncomment the 2.10.0 line, then change the last zero to "2" or "3". Save your changes.

Now, here is a synopsis of the build steps. Using bash:

cd $HOME/fun/scalding
sbt update
sbt assembly

On Windows:

cd C:\fun\scalding
sbt update
sbt assembly

(The Getting Started page says to build the test target between update and assembly, but the later builds test itself.)

Sanity Check

Once you've built Scalding, run the following command as a sanity check to ensure everything is setup properly. Using bash:

cd $HOME/fun/scalding
scripts/scald.rb --local tutorial/Tutorial0.scala

On Windows:

cd C:\fun\scalding
ruby scripts\scald.rb --local tutorial/Tutorial0.scala