1. State and actions

State and actions 

State is the entry point to all available information in sbt. The key methods are:

  • definedCommands: Seq[Command] returns all registered Command definitions
  • remainingCommands: List[Exec] returns the remaining commands to be run
  • attributes: AttributeMap contains generic data.

The action part of a command performs work and transforms State. The following sections discuss State => State transformations. As mentioned previously, a command will typically handle a parsed value as well: (State, T) => State.

Command-related data 

A Command can modify the currently registered commands or the commands to be executed. This is done in the action part by transforming the (immutable) State provided to the command. A function that registers additional power commands might look like:

val powerCommands: Seq[Command] = ...

val addPower: State => State =
  (state: State) =>
    state.copy(definedCommands =
      (state.definedCommands ++ powerCommands).distinct

This takes the current commands, appends new commands, and drops duplicates. Alternatively, State has a convenience method for doing the above:

val addPower2 = (state: State) => state ++ powerCommands

Some examples of functions that modify the remaining commands to execute:

val appendCommand: State => State =
  (state: State) =>
    state.copy(remainingCommands = state.remainingCommands :+ "cleanup")

val insertCommand: State => State =
  (state: State) =>
    state.copy(remainingCommands = "next-command" +: state.remainingCommands)

The first adds a command that will run after all currently specified commands run. The second inserts a command that will run next. The remaining commands will run after the inserted command completes.

To indicate that a command has failed and execution should not continue, return state.fail.

(state: State) => {
  val success: Boolean = ...
  if(success) state else state.fail

Project-related data 

Project-related information is stored in attributes. Typically, commands won’t access this directly but will instead use a convenience method to extract the most useful information:

val state: State
val extracted: Extracted = Project.extract(state)
import extracted._

Extracted provides:

  • Access to the current build and project (currentRef)
  • Access to initialized project setting data (structure.data)
  • Access to session Settings and the original, permanent settings from .sbt and .scala files (session.append and session.original, respectively)
  • Access to the current Eval instance for evaluating Scala expressions in the build context.

Project data 

All project data is stored in structure.data, which is of type sbt.Settings[Scope]. Typically, one gets information of type T in the following way:

val key: SettingKey[T]
val scope: Scope
val value: Option[T] = key in scope get structure.data

Here, a SettingKey[T] is typically obtained from Keys and is the same type that is used to define settings in .sbt files, for example. Scope selects the scope the key is obtained for. There are convenience overloads of in that can be used to specify only the required scope axes. See Structure.scala for where in and other parts of the settings interface are defined. Some examples:

import Keys._
val extracted: Extracted
import extracted._

// get name of current project
val nameOpt: Option[String] = (currentRef / name).get(structure.data)

// get the package options for the `Test/packageSrc` task or Nil if none are defined
val pkgOpts: Seq[PackageOption] = (currentRef / Test / packageSrc / packageOptions).get(structure.data).getOrElse(Nil)

BuildStructure contains information about build and project relationships. Key members are:

units: Map[URI, LoadedBuildUnit]
root: URI

A URI identifies a build and root identifies the initial build loaded. LoadedBuildUnit provides information about a single build. The key members of LoadedBuildUnit are:

// Defines the base directory for the build
localBase: File

// maps the project ID to the Project definition
defined: Map[String, ResolvedProject]

ResolvedProject has the same information as the Project used in a project/Build.scala except that ProjectReferences are resolved to ProjectRefs.


Classpaths in sbt are of type Seq[Attributed[File]]. This allows tagging arbitrary information to classpath entries. sbt currently uses this to associate an Analysis with an entry. This is how it manages the information needed for multi-project incremental recompilation. It also associates the ModuleID and Artifact with managed entries (those obtained by dependency management). When you only want the underlying Seq[File], use files:

val attributedClasspath: Seq[Attribute[File]] = ...
val classpath: Seq[File] = attributedClasspath.files

Running tasks 

It can be useful to run a specific project task from a command (not from another task) and get its result. For example, an IDE-related command might want to get the classpath from a project or a task might analyze the results of a compilation. The relevant method is Project.runTask, which has the following signature:

def runTask[T](taskKey: ScopedKey[Task[T]], state: State,
  checkCycles: Boolean = false): Option[(State, Result[T])]

For example,

val eval: State => State = (state: State) => {

    // This selects the main 'compile' task for the current project.
    //   The value produced by 'compile' is of type inc.Analysis,
    //   which contains information about the compiled code.
    val taskKey = Compile / Keys.compile

    // Evaluate the task
    // None if the key is not defined
    // Some(Inc) if the task does not complete successfully (Inc for incomplete)
    // Some(Value(v)) with the resulting value
    val result: Option[(State, Result[inc.Analysis])] = Project.runTask(taskKey, state)
    // handle the result
    result match
        case None => // Key wasn't defined.
        case Some((newState, Inc(inc))) => // error detail, inc is of type Incomplete, use Incomplete.show(inc.tpe) to get an error message
        case Some((newState, Value(v))) => // do something with v: inc.Analysis

For getting the test classpath of a specific project, use this key:

val projectRef: ProjectRef = ...
val taskKey: Task[Seq[Attributed[File]]] =
  (projectRef / Test / Keys.fullClasspath)

Using State in a task 

To access the current State from a task, use the state task as an input. For example,

myTask := ... state.value ...

Updating State in a task 

It is also possible to update the sbt state in a task. To do this, the task must return type StateTransform. The state will be transformed upon completion of task evaluation. The StateTransform is constructed with a function from State => State that accepts the previous value of the State and generates a new state. For example:

import complete.DefaultParsers._
val counter = AttributeKey[Int]("counter")
val setCounter = inputKey[StateTransform]("Set the value of the counter attribute")
setCounter := {
  val count = (Space ~> IntBasic).parsed
  StateTransform(_.put(counter, count))

creates the input task setCounter that sets the counter attribute to some value.