Code Formatting with Scalafmt

Paola Pardo

Whether you are starting a Scala project or collaborating in one, here, you have a guide to know the most used frameworks for improving the code style.

Scalastyle and Scalafmt

Scalastyle is a handy tool for coding style in Scala, similar to what Checkstyle does in Java. Scalafmt formats code to look consistent between people on your team, and it is perfectly integrated into your toolchain.


For the installation, you need to add the following to the plugins.sbt file under the project folder.

addSbtPlugin("org.scalameta" % "sbt-scalafmt" % "2.4.2") 
addSbtPlugin("org.scalastyle" %% "scalastyle-sbt-plugin" % "1.0.0")

This will create a Scalastyle configuration under scalastyle_config.xml. And a file .scalafmt.conf where you can write rules to maintain consistency across the project.

For example:

# This style is copied from
# <> version = "2.7.5"
align = none
align.openParenDefnSite = false
align.openParenCallSite = false
align.tokens = [] 
optIn = { 
  configStyleArguments = false 
danglingParentheses = false 
docstrings = JavaDoc 
maxColumn = 98 
newlines.topLevelStatements = [before,after]


When opening a project that contains a .scalafmt.conf file, you will be prompted to use it:

Choose the scalafmt formatter, and it will be used at compile-time for formatting files.

However, you can check it manually with:

sbt scalastyle

Another exciting feature is that you can configure your IDE to reformat at saving:

Alternatively, force code formatting:

sbt scalafmt # Format main sources 

sbt test:scalafmt # Format test sources 

sbt scalafmtCheck # Check if the scala sources under the project have been formatted 

sbt scalafmtSbt # Format *.sbt and project /*.scala files 

sbt scalafmtSbtCheck # Check if the files have been formatted by scalafmtSbt

More tricks


Sbt also checks the format of the Scala docs when publishing the artifacts. The following command will check and generate the Scaladocs:

sbt doc

Header Creation

Sometimes a header must be present in all files. You can do so by using this plugin:

First, add it in the plugins.sbt:

addSbtPlugin("de.heikoseeberger" % "sbt-header" % "5.6.0")

Include the header you want to show in your build.sbt

headerLicense := Some(HeaderLicense.Custom("Copyright 2021 Qbeast Pills"))

And use it in compile time with:

Compile / compile := (Compile / compile).dependsOn(Compile / headerCheck).value

To automatize the creation of headers in all files, execute:

sbt headerCreate

Using println

Scalafmt has strong policies on print information. And we all debug like this now and then.

The quick solution is to wrap your code:

// scalastyle:off println
<your beautiful piece of code>
// scalastyle:on println

But make sure you delete these comments before pushing any commits 😉

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