Dependency Management Flow 

sbt 0.12.1 addresses several issues with dependency management. These fixes were made possible by specific, reproducible examples, such as a situation where the resolution cache got out of date (gh-532). A brief summary of the current work flow with dependency management in sbt follows.


update resolves dependencies according to the settings in a build file, such as libraryDependencies and resolvers. Other tasks use the output of update (an UpdateReport) to form various classpaths. Tasks that in turn use these classpaths, such as compile or run, thus indirectly depend on update. This means that before compile can run, the update task needs to run. However, resolving dependencies on every compile would be unnecessarily slow and so update must be particular about when it actually performs a resolution.

Caching and Configuration 

  1. Normally, if no dependency management configuration has changed since the last successful resolution and the retrieved files are still present, sbt does not ask Ivy to perform resolution.
  2. Changing the configuration, such as adding or removing dependencies or changing the version or other attributes of a dependency, will automatically cause resolution to be performed. Updates to locally published dependencies should be detected in sbt 0.12.1 and later and will force an update. Dependent tasks like compile and run will get updated classpaths.
  3. Directly running the update task (as opposed to a task that depends on it) will force resolution to run, whether or not configuration changed. This should be done in order to refresh remote SNAPSHOT dependencies.
  4. When offline := true, remote SNAPSHOTs will not be updated by a resolution, even an explicitly requested update. This should effectively support working without a connection to remote repositories. Reproducible examples demonstrating otherwise are appreciated. Obviously, update must have successfully run before going offline.
  5. Overriding all of the above, skip in update := true will tell sbt to never perform resolution. Note that this can cause dependent tasks to fail. For example, compilation may fail if jars have been deleted from the cache (and so needed classes are missing) or a dependency has been added (but will not be resolved because skip is true). Also, update itself will immediately fail if resolution has not been allowed to run since the last clean.

General troubleshooting steps 

  1. Run update explicitly. This will typically fix problems with out of date SNAPSHOTs or locally published artifacts.
  2. If a file cannot be found, look at the output of update to see where Ivy is looking for the file. This may help diagnose an incorrectly defined dependency or a dependency that is actually not present in a repository.
  3. last update contains more information about the most recent resolution and download. The amount of debugging output from Ivy is high, so you may want to use lastGrep (run help lastGrep for usage).
  4. Run clean and then update. If this works, it could indicate a bug in sbt, but the problem would need to be reproduced in order to diagnose and fix it.
  5. Before deleting all of the Ivy cache, first try deleting files in ~/.ivy2/cache related to problematic dependencies. For example, if there are problems with dependency "org.example" % "demo" % "1.0", delete ~/.ivy2/cache/org.example/demo/1.0/ and retry update. This avoids needing to redownload all dependencies.
  6. Normal sbt usage should not require deleting files from ~/.ivy2/cache, especially if the first four steps have been followed. If deleting the cache fixes a dependency management issue, please try to reproduce the issue and submit a test case.


These troubleshooting steps can be run for plugins by changing to the build definition project, running the commands, and then returning to the main project. For example:

> reload plugins
> update
> reload return


  1. Configure offline behavior for all projects on a machine by putting offline := true in ~/.sbt/0.13/global.sbt. A command that does this for the user would make a nice pull request. Perhaps the setting of offline should go into the output of about or should it be a warning in the output of update or both?
  2. The cache improvements in 0.12.1 address issues in the change detection for update so that it will correctly re-resolve automatically in more situations. A problem with an out of date cache can usually be attributed to a bug in that change detection if explicitly running update fixes the problem.
  3. A common solution to dependency management problems in sbt has been to remove ~/.ivy2/cache. Before doing this with 0.12.1, be sure to follow the steps in the troubleshooting section first. In particular, verify that a clean and an explicit update do not solve the issue.
  4. There is no need to mark SNAPSHOT dependencies as changing() because sbt configures Ivy to know this already.


sbt Reference Manual
      1. Dependency Management Flow