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TIL: sbt-fresh a Helper to Initialize new Scala Projects

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·Aug 29, 2020·

3 min read

TIL: sbt-fresh a Helper to Initialize new Scala Projects


It's a while that I was looking for a solution to automate project initialization for Scala projects. When you start a new project, there are a lot of boilerplates you need to set up to keep you going. Unfortunately, most of the community rely on IDEs especially idea, and the solution is pretty obvious there. You click through some menus, and it's ready.

I prefer to not use IDEs as much as I can. There is nothing bad about them IMO, I'm just afraid of them acting smart or playing some games irrelevant to what I'm focused on. If you use them, you've probably seen such behaviours:

  1. The function runs perfectly inside the IDE, but after packaging, you get a bizarre error.

  2. You are able to compile your package from the command line, but when you are in the IDE, it rants about some dependency missing.

  3. That test function runs completely when you run the whole test suite, but it fails when you run it individually.

  4. And others along the same line.

I'm not saying it's the fault of IDEs or if you use Emacs/Vim, they'll vanish. My idea is that you need to master your editor, and IDEs are so opinionated and tailored around the target language, which usually takes much more learning effort to master it for different languages or setups.

I personally prefer to keep my setup as centralised as possible, so I can spend my learning abilities more on the things that matter the most. Of course, this approach has its own downside as well. I should actively take responsibility for improving my workflows (in the absence of Jetbrains designing editing workflows for me), and improve it. However, I can manage it by bite-sizing my improvements.

Every once in a while I try to improve one small thing and adapt it into my workflow. It may be a slow down for starters, but after some time, the compound benefits would be much higher. OK, more on this later. Let's talk about sbt-fresh.


Today, I searched to improve another part of my workflow. A solution to improve how I create new Scala projects, and I found sbt-fresh. A plugin for sbt, which helps with the exact problem in hand. It's something like Rust's cargo new my_project+ (or the same for Clojure's Leiningen).

How to Install and Use

Edit ~/.sbt/1.0/plugins/plugins.sbt and add the following inside (for updated instruction always refer to the repository):

addSbtPlugin("de.heikoseeberger" % "sbt-fresh" % "5.8.8")

And if you like, configured it by editing ~/.sbt/1.0/build.sbt and add the following lines:

  freshSetUpGit         := true
  freshSetUpTravis      := false
  freshSetUpWartremover := true  // refer to for more information

Now, go inside your target directory and trigger:

sbt fresh

And voila, it's ready to use.

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