Last Updated: 2020-05-27
A Bloop Tour for Metals users
Many of the common questions I see around the Metals ecosystem have to do with Bloop. Questions like ‘What is Bloop?’, ‘What’s Bloop’s role in Metals?’, and ‘What does the Bloop CLI do?’ are somewhat commonplace. If we step outside of the Metals world, the mystery is even more enhanced. I’ve talked to seasoned Scala devs before that weren’t aware of Bloop. All this makes it a perfect candidate for this mini-series on under-appreciated Scala tools after my last Coursier post. I don’t pretend to be an expert in Bloop at all, but I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with those that are and have hopefully been able to pick up enough to help spread the word, especially in relation to Metals.
First things first, taken in part from the Bloop website: Bloop is a build server and CLI tool for the Scala programming language built by the Scala Center and spearheaded by Jorge Vicente Cantero and Martin Duhem. Bloop has two main goals:
- Compile, test, and run Scala code as fast as possible
- Integrate easily with build tools, command-line applications, editors, and custom tooling
While those two points are quite clear, there are a couple other points worth noting to help with the general understanding of Bloop. Firstly, Bloop is a server, and like other servers, it responds to requests from clients. These clients can be something like Metals, communicating with Bloop via the Build Server Protocol (BSP), or Bloop CLI, which is communicating with Bloop via the Nailgun server protocol. They can be happening concurrently, caching compilations across different clients, and offering client isolation to avoid conflicts in a shared, stateful file system.
The What is Bloop portion of the website does a great job at outlining in more detail what I have listed above, along with some of the design goals of the project.
If you’ve seen any of the presentations done about Metals, then you’ve probably seen a graphic similar to what I have below. However, the one below is a bit more simplified showing only one language client and one build tool.
This diagram is meant to show Bloop’s part in the flow from build definition to your editor of choice. If you start on the left, you have your build definition in sbt for example. If you’ve used Metals before, you’ll notice that when you first open up a project you’ll be prompted to Import Your Build. What does this mean? The first time this happens, it means that Metals detects that you have no
.bloop directory and therefore you need to import your build. When using sbt this means that Metals actually adds the
sbt-bloop plugin to your build in
project/metals.sbt. It then issues an
sbt bloopInstall command which will dump out your build definition for all of your modules into JSON files. You can see this if you open up your
.bloop directory in your workspace. These files contain things like your directory information, what dependencies your module has on other modules, all your classpath information, and more. Go ahead and take a look at everything in there. Once this information is gathered, Metals tells Bloop to compile your project.
At this point, if there are any errors during compilation, diagnostics are forwarded from Bloop to Metals and then to your client for you to see. If you fix the diagnostic, hit save, the save event is sent to Metals which then forwards that to Bloop to compile what has been changed. You can start to imagine the flow from the diagram above.
At this point, one of the questions you may have is how does Bloop start? Does Metals start it? Does Metals install Bloop? There can only be one Bloop server running on a machine. So when Metals is about to start, one of two things happens. Using Bloop Launcher either a Bloop server is detected and running, which Metals connects to, or the launcher starts one.
Especially for Metals users, I highly recommend using Bloop CLI when you have a simple workflow of compiling, testing, compiling, etc. Up above I mentioned that compilations are cached for different clients. The power in this can be witnessed when you’re in Metals, have your project compiled, and can run a test via the Bloop CLI and see it start basically immediately without another compilation happening. Personally, I’ve fully moved from running tests through sbt to running them through Bloop CLI simply because of how much faster it is for me to go from executing the
bloop test <project> to seeing the test run. If you run the same test through sbt you normally have both a longer startup time and also compilation that needs to happen.
Many of the things that you would imagine using like, targeting a specific test suite, watching a test suite, passing in arguments, or testing upstream projects all exist. However, there are a few differences and nuances worth pointing out.
- You can’t run
bloop testwithout specifying a project. You need to use command substitution like below if you want to compile or test all projects. There is no implicit root project.
❯ bloop compile $(bloop projects)
- By default compilation requires compilation of all downstream projects, however, to compile upstream projects (transitive projects) that depend on your project, use the
❯ bloop compile --cascade root Compiling root (1 Scala source) Compiled root (982ms) Compiling root-test (1 Scala source) Compiled root-test (344ms)
- If you want to clean your cache and ensure that you have all downstream projects cleaned as well, use the
❯ bloop clean --propagate root
When running test suites, Bloop offers completions on your suite names. In order for this to work you need to make sure you have fully compiled before you’ll see completions offered.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Bloop CLI doesn’t fully replace the need for sbt shell or commands. More advanced custom workflows still need to be configured and done via sbt like publishing, packaging, and other integrations with things like Docker, native images, etc.
If you need a repl,
bloop consolewill drop you into an Ammonite shell in the targeted project.
❯ bloop console root Loading... Welcome to the Ammonite Repl 2.1.4-2-ef9b0a0 (Scala 2.12.11 Java 1.8.0_242) @
- You can generate graphviz diagrams to view your dependencies with a command like the one found below.
❯ bloop projects --dot-graph | dot -Tsvg -o metals-diagram.svg && open metals-diagram.svg
- Whenever you run, test, or debug in Metals, it’s all being powered by Bloop.
- Compilations are cached. Consider using the Bloop CLI rather than your build tool to run your tests. You can actually witness this compile deduplication if you are watching a test with
-wand also compiling a project with Metals. You’ll see a message like this in your bloop output:
Deduplicating compilation of root from bsp client 'Metals 0.9.0+139-c169b4ce-SNAPSHOT' (since 39.439s)
- The Bloop CLI portion of the website has a great tutorial that goes through usage of the tool, all the flags, etc. It’s a great guide to get started with if you haven’t used the Bloop CLI at all yet, or want to freshen up on all the available flags.
- There are many integrations with Bloop including sbt, Mill, Maven, Gradle, and more. Take some time to check them all out, and appreciate the breadth of tools that rely on Bloop.
- Keep in mind that if Metals starts Bloop, when you close Metals, it doesn’t shut down the Bloop server. This is intentional. If you want to shut it down, you’ll need to run a
- Just to make the distinction, worksheets rely on mdoc and the recently merged in Ammonite support relies on Ammonite. Neither of these use Bloop. So if you have an issue with either of them, blowing away your
.bloopdirectory won’t help.
I use Bloop daily, and you may be using it as well without even realizing it. It’s an incredible tool that has set the bar for how we run, compile, and test Scala code. If you haven’t yet, take some time and head on over to the Bloop webiste, give the Bloop CLI a try, and tell a friend or colleague about it.
A special thanks to Ólafur for reading this over and always providing valuable feedback.
Thanks for stopping by.