1. 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, the classpath includes 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 vs 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:

Compile / sourceGenerators +=
    generate( (Compile / sourceManaged).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 (Compile / sourceGenerators).

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

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

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

Compile / sourceGenerators += (Compile / mySourceGenerator)

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:

unmanagedSources / excludeFilter := "butler.scala"

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

External vs 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:

  • unmanagedClasspath
  • managedClasspath
  • externalDependencyClasspath
  • internalDependencyClasspath

For sources:

  • unmanagedSources These are by default built up from unmanagedSourceDirectories, which consists of scalaSource and javaSource.
  • managedSources These are generated sources.
  • sources Combines managedSources and unmanagedSources.
  • sourceGenerators These are tasks that generate source files. Typically, these tasks will put sources in the directory provided by sourceManaged.

For resources

  • unmanagedResources These are by default built up from unmanagedResourceDirectories, which by default is resourceDirectory, excluding files matched by defaultExcludes.
  • managedResources By default, this is empty for standard projects. sbt plugins will have a generated descriptor file here.
  • resourceGenerators These are tasks that generate resource files. Typically, these tasks will put resources in the directory provided by resourceManaged.

Use the inspect command for more details.

See also a related StackOverflow answer.


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

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