swachter / scala-ts   0.11

Scala versions: 2.12
sbt plugins: 1.0


The ScalaTsPlugin processes ScalaJS sources, generates a corresponding TypeScript Declaration File, and bundles its output and the output of ScalaJS to form a Node module.

Built ontop of that functionality an adapter can be provided that allows to access ScalaJS code while converting between specific interoperability types and certain standard Scala types.


Add the following lines to project/plugins.sbt

addSbtPlugin("io.github.swachter" % "sbt-scala-ts" % "0.13.0")

and enable the ScalaTsPlugin in build.sbt


If no adapter code should be generated then no further configuration is required. In particular, no additional annotations or other kind of information must be provided.

If adapter code should be generated then additional configuration and some source annotations are required.

How does it work?

The implementation is based on Scalameta. Information about ScalaJS sources is collected by traversing source trees and retrieving symbol information from SemanticDB. Accordingly, ScalaJS sources must be compiled with the SemanticDB compiler plugin being activated. In addition, the ScalaJSPlugin must be configured to emit an ECMAScript module. The ScalaTsPlugin takes care for all this configuration.

Side note: ScalaJS export annotations (e.g. @JSExportTopLevel) are available at compile time only. SemanticDB files do not include annotation values either. Therefore, the ScalaTsPlugin needs to process sources in order to access export information. The SemanticDB compiler plugin option -P:semanticdb:text:on is used to include sources in SemanticDB files. In addition, the Scala compiler option -Yrangepos must be set to allow matching source file locations with symbol information from SemanticDB.

The adapter is realized by source code generation of a file containing a Scala object. This adapter object in turn, is processed by the ScalaTsPlugin like all other sources yielding corresponding TypeScript declarations. The adapter uses implicitly derived converters that convert between interoperability types and standard Scala types in both directions.

SBT settings and tasks

Main settings and tasks

Key Description
scalaTsModuleName Setting: Name of the generated node module (default: project name)
scalaTsModuleVersion Setting: Function that transforms the project version into a node module version (default: identity function that checks if the result is a valid semantic version)
scalaTsFastOpt Task: Generate node module including typescript declaration file based on the fastOptJS output
scalaTsFullOpt Task: Generate node module including typescript declaration file based on the fullOptJS output
scalaTsAdapterEnabled Setting: Determines if adapter code is generated (default: false)


In its default configuration the ScalaTsPlugin considers only the sources of the project where it is enabled. If library dependencies should also be considered then the setting scalaTsConsiderFullCompileClassPath must be set to true. In that case all SemanticDB information available on the compile classpath can be used. Parts of the compile class path can be filtered by specifying regular expressions for the scalaTsInclude and scalaTsExclude settings. In order for a class path part to be considered it must match the regular expression for inclusion and not match the regular expression for exclusion. The relevant settings are:

Key Description
scalaTsConsiderFullCompileClassPath Determines if the full compile class path or only the classes of the current project are considered (default: false)
scalaTsInclude RegEx that filters entries from the full compile class path (default: .)
scalaTsExclude RegEx that filters entries from the full compile class path (default: (?!.).)

A common situation for a library dependency that must be considered is a cross project (named shared) with shared sources for client and server. For the shared.js project the generation of SemanticDB information must be activated. This can be done by invoking .jsSettings(ScalaTsPlugin.crossProject.jsSettings) on the cross project. A dedicated client project depends on the shared.js project and has the ScalaTsPlugin enabled. The example/angular folder shows this setup.

Target directory

The output directory of the generated node module can be configured by the crossTarget setting for the fastOptJS or fullOptJS tasks, respectively. E.g.:

(crossTarget in fastOptJS) := (baseDirectory in Compile).value / "target" / "node_module"
(crossTarget in fullOptJS) := (baseDirectory in Compile).value / "target" / "node_module"

SemanticDB version

The ScalaTsPlugin uses SBT's built-in SemanticDB support for generating the required SemanticDB files. The ScalaTsPlugin uses a default SemanticDB version. In case that the corresponding semanticdb-scalac compiler plugin is not available for the used Scala version, an available SemanticDB version must be configured. The complete command of the Coursier commandline client can be used to determine available versions. The following example shows the available versions for Scala 2.13.3 at the time of this writing:

> cs complete org.scalameta:semanticdb-scalac_2.13.3:

To use version 4.3.20 the following setting must be included:

semanticdbVersion := "4.3.20"

Type shadowing

Key Description
scalaTsPreventTypeShadowing see description below (default: false)

TypeScript allows nested namespaces. Consider the following situation:

namespace x {
  interface I {}                    // interface x.I
namespace ns {
  namespace x {
    interface I {}                  // interface ns.x.I
    declare function f(): I         // resolves to ns.x.I
    declare function g(): x.I       // resolves to ns.x.I
    declare function h(): _root_x.I // resolves to x.I
  interface X {}
import _root_x = x

Without additional measures, it is not possible to access the interface x.I from declarations inside the namespace ns.x. The reason is the existence of the interface ns.x.I which shadows the interface x.I.

TypeScript does not offer a 'root' namespace indicator comparable to the _root_ package indicator available in Scala. However, using namespace imports it is possible to define namespace aliases for all top-level packages as seen above.

If the setting scalaTsPreventTypeShadowing is enabled then namespace aliases are emitted for all top-level packages. Types are referenced using these aliases.

TypeScript declaration file generation

Type correspondences

ScalaJS types are mapped into corresponding TypeScript types. ScalaJS defines type correspondences for all primitive types and provides a couple of interoperability and facade types (cf. types). Additional facade types can be defined based on native symbols from global scope or from imported libraries. Finally, all other types are considered opaque types and are mapped into marker interfaces.

Primitive and literal types

ScalaJS Type TypeScript Type
String string
Boolean boolean
Byte, Double, Float, Int, Short number
literal type literal type

Interoperability types

ScalaJS Type TypeScript Type
js.Any any
js.Object object
js.UndefOr[X] p?: X or X | undefined depending on position
js.Array[X] X[]
js.FunctionN[T1, ... TN, R] (p1: T1, ... pn: TN) => R
js.ThisFunctionN[T0, T1, ... TN, R] (this: T0, p1: T1, ... pn: TN) => R
js.TupleN[T1, ... TN] [T1, ... TN]
js.|[T1, T2] T1 | T2
js.Dictionary[T] { [key: string]: T }
js.Iterable[T] Iterable<T>
js.Iterator[T] Iterator<T>
js.Thenable[T] PromiseLike<T>
eu.swdev.scala.ts.tpe.ReadOnlyArray[X] ReadonlyArray<X>

Note: The type eu.swdev.scala.ts.tpe.ReadOnlyArray is a type alias for js.Array that is part of the adapter runtime library and that is treated differently during TypeScript declaration file generation.

Facade types

Facade types are based on underlying native JavaScript types. Facade types can be defined based on global symbols or by importing native JavaScript libraries. Facade types are mapped into the corresponding global or imported native symbol. This supports seamless interoperability for native types. In case of imported types a corresponding import statement is included in the generated declaration file. Default imports are supported.

ScalaJS includes the following facade types based on global symbols:

ScalaJS Type TypeScript Type
js.Promise[T] Promise<T>
js.Date Date
js.RegExp RegExp
js.Symbol symbol
js.BigInt bigint

Examples for custom facade types that reference global or imported symbols:

ScalaJS Type TypeScript Declaration
class WeakMap[K <: js.Object, V]
WeakMap<K extends object, V>
@JSImport('module', 'ImportedType')
class SomeClass
import * as $module from 'module'
@JSImport('module', JSImport.Default)
class SomeClass
import $module_ from 'module'
@JSImport('mod', JSImport.Namespace)
object o extends js.Object { class C }
import * as $mod from 'mod'

Opaque types

All other ScalaJS types are called opaque types because their structure is not exposed to JavaScript. In order to preserve typesafety for opaque types a marker interface is exported for each opaque type that is referenced in an exported definition. Exported definitions reference these marker interfaces.

Each marker interface contains a property with a name that is equal to the fully qualified type name and the value never. This simulates some kind of nominal typing for these types instead of structural typing. In order to avoid name clashes, interfaces of opaque types are included in namespaces that match their package structure. Example:

ScalaJS Type TypeScript Declaration
scala.Option[X] namespace scala { interface Option<X> { 'scala.Option': never } }

Translation rules

General rules:

  • Type ascriptions can be omitted from ScalaJS sources; they are automatically inferred and included in the generated TypeScript declaration file.
  • Multiple argument lists are flattened into a single argument list.
  • Generics including upper bounds are supported.

Translation rules for top-level definitions (definitions must be annotated according to ScalaJS rules; names given in @JSExportTopLevel, @JSExport, and @JSExportStatic annotations are respected):

Scala Definition TypeScript Definition Note
val x: tpe const x: tpe
var x: tpe let x: tpe
def x(...): tpe function x(...): tpe
class X { ...member... } class X { ...member... }
interface X extends ... {}
interface generated iff the class extends exported interfaces
object X { ...member... } interface X$ { ...member... }
const X: X$
trait X { ...member... } interface X { ...member... } generated iff the trait is referenced in the exported API
class X
object X { ...static... }
class X { ...static... } definitions in companion objects that are annotated by @JSExportStatic are exported as static class members
type X = ... type X = ... generated iff the type alias is referenced in the exported API

Translation rules for class and object members (constructor val/var parameters are also considered):

Scala Definition TypeScript Definition Note
val x: tpe readonly x: tpe
var x:tpe x: tpe
def x: tpe readonly x: tpe if the def is an interface member and there is no corresponding setter
def x: tpe get x(): tpe if the def is a class member and there is no corresponding getter
def x_=(v: tpe) set x(v: tpe)
def x: tpe
def x_=(v: tpe)
x: tpe a corresponding getter/setter pair
def x(...): tpe x(...): tpe

Note: Setters are not supported in TypeScript interfaces. Therefore a corresponding getter must be supplied if the setter would be part of an interface.

If a member is annotated by @JSExport or @JSName and the given name is not a valid identifier then the member is defined using so called bracket notation. Bracket notation is also used if the member name is given by a symbol. For example:

Scala Definition TypeScript Definition
val x: tpe
readonly ['???']: tpe
def iter(): js.Iterator[X] = ???
[Symbol.iterator](): Iterator<X>

Translation rule for repeated method parameters (varargs):

Scala Method Parameter TypeScript Method Parameter
x: X* ...x: X[]

For each sealed trait that is referenced in the exported API a union type is created that contains all direct subtypes (classes, objects, or traits) as alternatives. The name of the union type is equal to the name of the sealed trait with '$u' appended.

Scala Definition TypeScript Definition
sealed trait T type T$u = Case1 |Case2| ...

If the sealed trait belongs to a package then the union type is defined in the corresponding namespace. Sealed trait hierarchies and generics are supported.

Note that the type parameters of a union type must not match the type parameters of the corresponding sealed trait. They are derived from the type parameters of their member types. For example a sealed trait may be generic whereas all its member types are not. Member types can pass-through a type parameter to their base trait or can introduce additional type parameters. Examples are:

Scala Definition TypeScript Definition
sealed trait Base[X]
class Case1 extends Base[String]
class Case2 extends Base[Int]
type Base$u = Case1 | Case2
sealed trait Base[X]
class Case1[X] extends Base[X]
class Case2[X] extends Base[X]
type Base$u<X> = Case1<X> | Case2<X>
sealed trait Base[X]
class Case1[X] extends Base[X]
class Case2[Y] extends Base[String]
type Base$u<X, $M1_Y> = Case1<X> | Case2<$M1_Y>

Discriminated Union Types

If all union cases have a common discrimantor property that has a literal type then Flow Typing can be used for exhaustiveness checks. (Note: instanceof checks are currently not supported for case classes; cf. ScalaJS/4062.)

Example Scala code (without JSExport annotations):

sealed trait T
case class Case1(i: Int) { val tpe: "i" = "i" }
case class Case2(s: String) { val tpe: "s" = "s" }

TypeScript code:

function assertNever(n: never): never {
    throw new Error('never case reached')

function match(t: T$u): number | string {
  if (t.tpe === 'i') {
    return t.i // TypeScript knows that t has type Case1 -> access of t.i possible
  } else if (t.tpe === 's') {
    return t.s // TypeScript knows that t has type Case2 -> access of t.s possible
  } else {
    return assertNever(t) // TypeScript nows that t has type never

Generated Interface Hierarchy

In addition to the interfaces that are generated for opaque types, interfaces are generated for all traits in the processed sources that are base types of exported classes or objects. Finally, interfaces are generated for all types 'between' these interfaces and all exported classes and objects. The generated interfaces form an inheritance hierarchy, thereby supporting polymorphism.

Adapter Code Generation

The ScalaTsPlugin generates adapter code only for the dependencies of a project for which the ScalaTsPlugin is enabled. The reason is that adapter code generation needs the compilation result of the classes that should be adapted. The compilation result however, is not available at the source code generation stage of a project.

Considering only the dependencies of a project for adapter code generation seems to be a big disadvantage at first. However, the adapter code generation offers its greatest benefit in project setups with code that is shared between backend and frontend. ScalaJS projects without shared code can directly use the shipped ScalaJS interoperability types like js.UndefOr and the accompanying implicit conversions. In projects with shared code however, the shared code can not use the interoperability types because they are not available on the backend. Therefore, adapter code is needed to convert between standard Scala types and interoperability types.


Adapter code generation is an opt-in feature:

First, classes, objects, vals, vars, and defs must be annotated if adapter code should be generated for the corresponding entities. The annotations are:

Annotation Description
@Adapt can be applied on defs, vals, vars, and constructor parameters (that are exposed as vals or vars); triggers code generation to access the annotated entity
@Adapt('interop type') allows to specify the exposed interoperability type; must be a valid Scala type (e.g. 'js.Array[Double]'; the js package is in scope)
@AdaptConstructor can be applied on classes; adapter code for invoking the class constructor is generated
@AdaptMembers can be applied on classes and objects; adapter code for all members (defs, vals, and vars) is generated
@AdaptAll is the same as @AdaptConstructor and @AdaptMembers

Second, adapter code generation must be enabled. Settings for adapter code generation are:

Key Description
scalaTsAdapterEnabled Determines if adapter code is generated (default: false)
scalaTsAdapterName Determines the name of the adapter object and its top-level export name (default: Adapter)

The setting scalaTsAdapterEnabled := true implies:

scalaTsConsiderFullCompileClassPath := true // automatically implied
scalaTsPreventTypeShadowing := true         // automatically implied 

Configuration of cross projects

The ScalaTsPlugin provides constants that ease the setup of cross projects. In the following example project setup the sources of the shared cross project may use adapter annotations. The frontend project that depends on the shared sources enables adapter generation:

lazy val shared = crossProject(JSPlatform, JVMPlatform)
    // add JCenter repo + annotations dependency
    libraryDependencies += "org.scala-js" %% "scalajs-stubs" % "1.0.0" % "provided",
    // adds semantic db settings

lazy val frontend = project.enablePlugins(ScalaTsPlugin).dependsOn(shared.js).settings(
  scalaTsAdapterEnabled := true,


Adapter code generation involves two dependencies: A library that contains annotations for controlling adapter code generation and a runtime library that provides converters.

Annotation Library

The annotations library has the module identifier "eu.swdev" %%% "scala-ts-annotations" % version. The annotations library should be added to the "provided" scope because it is not required at runtime. Cross projects can add it to their common settings because the library is available both, for the JSPlatform and for the JVMPlatform. The settings constant ScalaTsPlugin.crossProject.settings contains the necessary settings.

Runtime Library

The runtime library is available for the JSPlatform only. Its module identifier is: "eu.swdev" %%% "scala-ts-runtime" % version. This dependency is added by the ScalaTsPlugin automatically if adapter code generation is enabled.

Generated Adapter Code

The adapter code contains three kinds of adapters:

  1. Class adapters: they allow to create instances of ScalaJS classes and instance adapters
  2. Instance adapters: they allow to access defs, vals, and vars of instances
  3. Object adapters: they allow to access defs, vals, and vars of objects and package objects

Overall structure of adapter code

A single top level js.Object called adapter object is exported. It gives access to all adapted entities. It contains nested objects for all packages and object adapters.

For example if the package eu.swdev and the object eu.Util contain adapted entities then the following adapter structure results:

object Adapter extends js.Object {
  object eu extends js.Object { // nested package
    object swdev extends js.Object { // nested package
    object Util extends js.Object { // object adapter

These objects give access to class adapters and adapted defs, vals, and vars of objects and package objects.

Class Adapters

Class adapters are represented by Scala objects. They are named like the class they are adapting. They have the following structure (assuming the class x.y.SomeClass is adapted):

object SomeClass {
  // create an instance; generated iff @AdaptConstructor is present
  def newDelegate(...): _root_x.y.SomeClass                 
  // create an adapter wrapping the given delegate
  def newAdapter(delegate: _root_x.y.SomeClass): SomeClass  

(Note the usage of the _root_x namespace identifier that is the result of the 'prevent type shadowing feature' explained above.)

The two methods newDelegate and newAdapter can conveniently be combined on the TypeScript side. A function that constructs an instance adapter given a class adapter and the necessary constructor parameters can be implemented by:

function newAdapter<ARGS extends any[], DELEGATE, ADAPTER>(
    classAdapter: { newDelegate: (...args: ARGS) => DELEGATE, newAdapter: (d: DELEGATE) => ADAPTER },
    ...args: ARGS
  ): ADAPTER {
    return classAdapter.newAdapter(classAdapter.newDelegate(...args))

Instance Adapters

Instance adapters are represented by Scala traits. They allow to access the defs, vals, and vars of their underlying delegates. The underlying delegate of an instance adapter can be accessed by its $delegate property. Translatation rules are:

Accessed ScalaJS Adapter Code
def m(p1: S1, ...): SR def m(p1: I1, ...): IR = $delegate.method(p1.$cnv[S1], ...).$cnv[IR]
val value: S def value: I = $delegate.value.$cnv[I]
var value: S def value: I = $delegate.value.$cnv[I]
def value_=(v: I) = $delegate.value = v.$cnv[S]

In the translation rules above type parameters starting with S denote arbitrary Scala types whereas type parameter starting with I denote interoperability types.

The $cnv method takes care of the necessary conversion. Note that conversions may happen recursively, e.g. a Scala List[Option[Int]] corresponds to the interoperability type js.Iterable[js.UndefOr[Int]].

Object Adapters

The translation rules for object adapters are nearly the same as for instance adapters. The only difference is that there is no underlying delegate. Instead, defs, vals, and vars of objects and package objects are accessed.

Supported Conversions

Scala/Java Type Interop Type
Additional Interop Types
(specified by @Adapt)
Array eu.swdev.scala.ts.tpe.ReadOnlyArray js.Array
List js.Iterable eu.swdev.scala.ts.tpe.ReadOnlyArray, js.Array
Option js.UndefOr
Future js.Promise
java.util.Date js.Date Double
FunctionX js.FunctionX
TupleX js.TupleX

Note that modifications of adapted arrays are not reflected in the underlying Scala array. Therefore, the default interop type for an array is eu.swdev.scala.ts.tpe.ReadOnlyArray. That type corresponds to TypeScript's ReadonlyArray.

Support of Inner Classes

Instance adapters may also contain class adapters of inner classes. These class adapters can be used like a class adapters of non-inner classes. Their newDelegate method creates an instance of the inner class and their newAdapter method returns an instance adapter for an instance of an inner class.


Folder Contents

  • explore: a ScalaJS project for exploration
  • generator: a library module that contains the code generator
  • runtime: a ScalaJs library module that is used at runtime by generated adapters
  • sbt-scala-ts: contains the ScalaTsPlugin
  • sbt-scala-ts/src/sbt-test: standalone SBT projects (readme); some are end-2-end others test basic functionality


Previous work on creating TypeScript Declaration Files


  1. ScalaJS and Typescript: an unlikely romance


  1. scala-ts/scala-ts; based on scala.reflect
  2. code-star/scala-tsi; based on macros and implicit machinery
  3. waveinch/sbt-scalajs-ts-export; based on Scala Meta trees
  4. davegurnell/bridges; based on shapeless
  5. sherpal/scala-ts; based on semanticdb


Thanks to Sébastien Doeraene and Ólafur Páll Geirsson for their work and support regarding ScalaJS and Scalameta.