Macro Visit

A macro-based generic visitor generator

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SBT Configuration:

libraryDependencies += "org.sangria-graphql" %% "macro-visit" % "<latest version>"


Writing visitor code can be quite tedious, especially if some nodes need to be transformed (in immutable way) along the way. This becomes even harder if performance is a concern and data structures are deeply recursive, so non tail-recursive approach is not an option. macro-visit provides very simple way to create type-safe visitor code for arbitrary sealed case class hierarchies. Generated visitor provides following features:

  • Non-recursive traversal, which means all state is managed in the heap and you will not run into stack overflow errors with deep recursive data structures.
  • Optimised for performance and memory footprint. Generated code for class hierarchy traversal is compiled into tight while loop.
  • Allows to transform traversed object in immutable way. It generates code that uses case class's copy method to get updated instance of object in most efficient way (if object has several changes, it would be copied only once)
  • Allows to break traversal at any given node and skip nodes
  • Supports List, Vector, Seq and Option traversal

Generated visitors can be very useful for traversing and transforming AST (Abstract Syntax Tree).

Assuming that the base type is called Ast, following visitors are supported:

  • Visit(enter, leave), where enter and leave are Ast => VisitorCommand functions - it recursively visits all instances of Ast type
  • VisitAnyField(fn) - it visits all fields with special type S (which is different from Ast) along the way
  • VisitAnyFieldByName(fieldName, fn) - it visits all fields with provided name and special type S (which is different from Ast) along the way

Following visitor commands are supported:

  • Skip
  • Continue
  • Break
  • Transform(newValue, controlCommand)
  • Delete
  • DeleteAndBreak


Here is how basic usage looks like:

import sangria.visitor._

val res = visit[Ast](root,
  Visit[Field](f => if ( == "hex") VisitorCommand.Delete else VisitorCommand.Continue),
  Visit[IntValue](v => VisitorCommand.Transform(IntValue(v.value + 1))))

Macro will look for all subtypes of Ast and then will generate traversal code for it with provided visitors. Visit takes 2 functions as an argument enter and leave which both have Ast ⇒ VisitorCommand type.

Given following AST definitions:

sealed trait Ast

case class Vertex(name: String, edges: List[Edge], fields: Vector[Field] = Vector.empty) extends Ast
case class Edge(weight: Int, toVertex: Vertex) extends Ast
case class Field(name: String, value: Option[Value]) extends Ast

sealed trait Value extends Ast

case class StringValue(value: String) extends Value
case class IntValue(value: Int) extends Value

and sample data:

val root =
  Vertex("start", List(
    Edge(1, Vertex("colors", List(
      Edge(2, Vertex("RED", Nil, Vector(
        Field("intensity", Some(IntValue(123))),
        Field("hex", Some(StringValue("#FF0000")))
      Edge(100, Vertex("GREEN", Nil, Vector(
        Field("hex", Some(StringValue("#00FF00")))
    Edge(42, Vertex("books", List(
      Edge(1, Vertex("The Hobbit", Nil, Vector(
        Field("pages", Some(IntValue(320)))

The result of the transformation will look like this:

Vertex("start", List(
  Edge(1, Vertex("colors", List(
    Edge(2,Vertex("RED", Nil, Vector(
      Field("intensity", Some(IntValue(124)))))),
    Edge(100, Vertex("GREEN", Nil, Vector.empty))), Vector.empty)),
  Edge(42, Vertex("books", List(
    Edge(1, Vertex("The Hobbit", Nil, Vector(
      Field("pages", Some(IntValue(321))))))),


macro-visit is licensed under Apache License, Version 2.0.