Classpaths, sources, and resources

Classpaths, sources, and resources

This page discusses how sbt builds up classpaths for different actions, like compile, run, and test and how to override or augment these classpaths.


In sbt 0.10 and later, classpaths now include the Scala library and (when declared as a dependency) the Scala compiler. Classpath-related settings and tasks typically provide a value of type Classpath. This is an alias for Seq[Attributed[File]]. Attributed is a type that associates a heterogeneous map with each classpath entry. Currently, this allows sbt to associate the Analysis resulting from compilation with the corresponding classpath entry and for managed entries, the ModuleID and Artifact that defined the dependency.

To explicitly extract the raw Seq[File], use the files method implicitly added to Classpath:

val cp: Classpath = ...
val raw: Seq[File] = cp.files

To create a Classpath from a Seq[File], use classpath and to create an Attributed[File] from a File, use Attributed.blank:

val raw: Seq[File] = ...
val cp: Classpath = raw.classpath

val rawFile: File = ..
val af: Attributed[File] = Attributed.blank(rawFile)

Unmanaged v. managed

Classpaths, sources, and resources are separated into two main categories: unmanaged and managed. Unmanaged files are manually created files that are outside of the control of the build. They are the inputs to the build. Managed files are under the control of the build. These include generated sources and resources as well as resolved and retrieved dependencies and compiled classes.

Tasks that produce managed files should be inserted as follows:

sourceGenerators in Compile +=
    generate( (sourceManaged in Compile).value / "some_directory")

In this example, generate is some function of type File => Seq[File] that actually does the work. So, we are appending a new task to the list of main source generators (sourceGenerators in Compile).

To insert a named task, which is the better approach for plugins:


val mySourceGenerator = taskKey[Seq[File]](...)

mySourceGenerator in Compile :=
generate( (sourceManaged in Compile).value / "some_directory")

sourceGenerators in Compile += (mySourceGenerator in Compile).task

The task method is used to refer to the actual task instead of the result of the task.

For resources, there are similar keys resourceGenerators and resourceManaged.

Excluding source files by name

The project base directory is by default a source directory in addition to src/main/scala. You can exclude source files by name (butler.scala in the example below) like:

excludeFilter in unmanagedSources := "butler.scala"

Read more on How to exclude .scala source file in project folder - Google Groups

External v. internal

Classpaths are also divided into internal and external dependencies. The internal dependencies are inter-project dependencies. These effectively put the outputs of one project on the classpath of another project.

External classpaths are the union of the unmanaged and managed classpaths.


For classpaths, the relevant keys are:

For sources:

For resources

Use the inspect command for more details.

See also a related StackOverflow answer.


You have a standalone project which uses a library that loads from classpath at run time. You put inside directory "config". When you run "sbt run", you want the directory to be in classpath.

unmanagedClasspath in Runtime += baseDirectory.value / "config"

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