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IDE support

Scala CLI currently integrates a build server using the BSP protocol. At this moment Scala CLI is not automatically detected by IDEs, so we need to use Build Server Discovery from BSP protocol to generate a connection details file (.bsp/scala-cli.json).


If none of these commands were run:

  • compile
  • run
  • test
  • setup-ide

or a previously-generated connection detail file was deleted, your IDE will not use Scala CLI to configure your workspace. (Although there are ongoing efforts to improve that situation.)

In this case, just run one of the commands above to recreate the connection details file.

Since Scala CLI has a command-line-first approach, this is reflected in its IDE integration. By default, Scala CLI stores options passed to the last compile, run, or test command, and uses those options to configure the IDE.

For more control we also expose the setup-ide command, which lets you fine-tune the options that are passed to the IDE.

But note that once setup-ide is used, Scala CLI does not update the configuration based on latest command. To enable automatic updates again, remove the .bsp directory and run compile, run, or test to recreate the connection details file.

Specific IDEs supporting Scala CLI

Scala CLI has been tested with two main Scala IDEs:

In an ideal world we would replace the rest of this guide with something along the lines of, “Scala CLI works within IDEs above as you would expect.” However, mainly due to how fresh Scala CLI is, and also due to our radical approach to the project structure, using a Scala CLI project with your favourite IDE may not be as amazing as we would like. (That being said, proper IDE integration is our top priority at this moment!)

VS Code with Metals

Check the cookbook on how to set up a Scala CLI project in VSCode with Metals.


Cookbooks on how to work with IntelliJ:

Directories vs single files when working with an IDE

When working with Scala CLI in an IDE, it is generally suggested to use directories rather than single files.

scala-cli setup-ide some-directory

Of course, nothing is stopping you from working with whatever you like as normal, but please do keep in mind that the IDE will import the exact build that you have set up, without second-guessing the user's intentions. In many IDEs, IDEA IntelliJ & Visual Studio Code included, everything within a given project root directory is at least implicitly treated as a part of the project (and probably shown as part of your project structure).

This means that when you pass just a single source file to Scala CLI like this:

scala-cli setup-ide some-directory/A.scala

If you open its surrounding directory as a project, any other files present in that directory will be visible in your IDE project's structure, but they will not be included in your builds.

So if you want to include another file in your build, let's say some-directory/B.scala alongside the previously configured some-directory/A.scala, it is probably not enough to create the file within the same directory in your IDE.

What you need to do instead is add it to your build with Scala CLI from the command line:

scala-cli setup-ide some-directory/A.scala some-directory/B.scala

There, now both A.scala and B.scala should be included in your builds when the IDE picks up the new structure.

Still, if you want to add/remove files like this a lot while working in an IDE, it may be a lot simpler to work on the whole directory instead:

cd some-directory
scala-cli setup-ide .

That way all the contents of some-directory will be treated as a part of the project as you go, without the need to jump into the command line whenever you create a new file.

Remote and virtual inputs

Do note that IDEs do not yet support working with Scala CLI's remote and virtual inputs. That includes:

Beyond that, IDE support for some non-standard (like .c and .h resources used with Scala Native) and experimental inputs (like i.e. .md sources) may not yet be on par with on-disk Scala and Java source files.