You can tell I’m not looking to write something serious by the topic I’ve chosen 😛

The first time I read about Show I instantly said to my self “its just a glorified toString”. I still struggle to see the difference… Okay not really but they are pretty similar.

Backing up, Here is the signature of show:

  /** creates an instance of [[Show]] using the provided function */
  def show[A](f: A => String): Show[A] = new Show[A] {
    def show(a: A): String = f(a)

So it takes a A as a type parameter and a function that takes an A and transforms it to a String. Kind of like a toString… but the difference is that show takes a type parameter while toString is defined on Any meaning everything has a toString and as bizarre as this might look, it actually works:

(new {}).toString // Would return  $anon$1@8641b7d ???

While this would not work for show.

Show also safeguards against anyone randomly overriding the toString somewhere else and affecting your code.

Example of using Show

Assume we have our ADT:

sealed abstract class Animal extends Product with Serializable

object Animal {

  final case object Dog extends Animal
  final case object Cat extends Animal

  implicit val showAnimal: Show[Animal] = {
    case Dog => "The following is a Dog"
    case Cat => "The following is a Cat"

We defined an implicit val of type Show[Animal] in our ADT, allowing us to call the following from anywhere else in the code:

  val d: Animal = Dog // Would return "The following is a Dog"