ghik / anodi   0.1.0

Apache License 2.0 GitHub

(Almost no) dependency injection for Scala

Scala versions: 3.x 2.13

(Almost no) Dependency Injection for Scala

anodi is a Scala micro library for initialization of application components ("beans") and dependency injection. It can be summarized as "lazy vals on steroids" and features:

  • defining application components in plain Scala (e.g. constructor invocations)
  • automatic resolution of dependency graph and initialization order
  • parallel initialization of independent components
  • opt-in dependency injection with Scala implicits/givens (compile-time "autowiring")

Project setup (sbt)

libraryDependencies += "com.github.ghik" %% "anodi" % "<version>"


anodi is currently available for Scala 2.13 and Scala 3

Defining components

An application is made of components. In this tutorial, a component is defined as an object that usually has at least one of the following properties:

  • it represents a "service" within your system, e.g. HTTP server, database access layer, etc.
  • it has a lifecycle: initialization and destruction logic (with side effects)
  • it acquires and releases resources
  • it is stateful
  • it depends on other components

Components are defined in an object or class that extends Components trait which provides component and singleton methods (macros) which interpret a plain Scala expression (e.g. constructor invocation) into a Component definition.

import scala.concurrent._
import scala.concurrent.duration._
import com.github.ghik.anodi._

class Database {
  // DB initialization goes here...
class Server(database: Database) {
  // server initialization goes here...
  def join(): Unit = { /* wait for shutdown */ }

object MyApp extends Components {
  def server: Component[Server] =
    singleton(new Server(database.ref))

  def database: Component[Database] =
    singleton(new Database)
  def main(args: Array[String]): Unit = {
    // use appropriate execution context of your choice for application initialization
    val srv = Await.result(server.init, Duration.Inf)


The Component type can be summarized as an enhanced version of Scala's built-in lazy val construct. It is associated with a lazy-evaluated expression that creates and initializes the component (often a simple constructor invocation, but it may be an arbitrary piece of code).

Wrapping component definitions into Component instances relieves the programmer from manually figuring out the initialization order of multiple interdependent components. Note that simply using lazy vals would already do that job, but Component does this better because:

  • in case of failures, exceptions are wrapped in a way that lets you track the initialization path that leads to the faulty component (i.e. a stack trace but nicer to read than the raw one)
  • dependency cycles are detected before any initialization is done - a nice error message is displayed that lets you quickly see where the cycle is

Component instances are aware of their source position. If they are assigned to a val or def, the name of this val or def is interpreted as the component name. This name may be later useful for debugging. Here's an example of a dependency cycle error that uses component names and source positions:

Exception in thread "main" com.github.ghik.anodi.DependencyCycleException: component dependency cycle detected:
  server(MyApp.scala:13) ->
  service(MyApp.scala:16) ->
  database(MyApp.scala:19) ->

Entry points

In order to start our application in the previous example, we explicitly requested initialization of the server component. This way we assumed server to be an entry point of our application - the primary service that exposes core system functionality (e.g. an HTTP server). All the other components are initialized only as direct or indirect dependencies of this toplevel entry point.

If your application consists of multiple such entry points, e.g. an UI server, REST API server, FTP server, etc. then it is recommended to create a single toplevel component whose purpose is solely to aggregate all the "real" entry points into one.

import com.github.ghik.anodi._

class UiServer
class ApiServer
class FtpServer

class FullApplication(ui: UiServer, api: ApiServer, ftp: FtpServer)

object MyApp extends Components {
  def ui: Component[UiServer] = singleton(new UiServer)
  def api: Component[ApiServer] = singleton(new ApiServer)
  def ftp: Component[FtpServer] = singleton(new FtpServer)
  def fullApplication: Component[FullApplication] =
    singleton(new FullApplication(ui.ref, api.ref, ftp.ref))

This way your application always has a single entry point component which makes it easier to navigate through code and understand its structure (knowing where to start).

Explicit dependency references

A Component may refer to another Component using .ref, e.g.

class Database
class Server(db: Database)

object MyApp extends Components {
  def database: Component[Database] = singleton(new Database)
  def server: Component[Server] = singleton(new Server(database.ref))

.ref is not a real method. It exists only during compilation and is interpreted by the component or singleton macro. A dependency reference is extracted by the macro out of the component initialization expression. This way the macro separates initialization of a component from initialization of its dependencies. This technique makes it possible to inspect the dependency graph before initializing any components. This allows early cycle detection and lets us parallelize component initialization.

NOTE: If you're familiar with sbt, then .ref works somewhat similarly to .value in sbt settings & task definitions.

Implicit dependency injection

.ref is used to refer to dependencies explicitly. This isn't necessarily bad because it gives you the most control and often produces the most readable code (it's the least "magic" way). However, passing a lot of constructor parameters manually may be tedious. That's why most DI frameworks feature some form of "autowiring" that figures out dependencies automatically by their type. In traditional Java DI frameworks, this autowiring is done with runtime reflection. In Scala, we can leverage implicits for this purpose and have everything wired in compile time.

In order for your Component to be implicitly injectable, simply declare it as implicit/given. Then you can declare your dependencies (e.g. constructor parameters) also as implicits. The framework takes care of the implicit Component[Thing] => implicit Thing conversion.

class Database
class Server(implicit db: Database)

object MyApp extends Components {
  implicit def database: Component[Database] = singleton(new Database)
  def server: Component[Server] = singleton(new Server))

Explicitly-declared implicit dependencies

A middle ground between implicit and explicit dependencies is a situation where a component definition is declared as implicit/given but a dependency to that component is expressed with an explicit parameter. This is how it looks in code:

class Database
class Server(db: Database)

object MyApp extends Components {
  implicit def database: Component[Database] = singleton(new Database)
  def server: Component[Server] = singleton(fromImplicits[Server])

This is a nice sweet spot between fully implicit and fully explicit components that combines its advantages:

  • dependency injection is handled for you by the compiler, using standard implicit search
  • implicit search is used only when explicitly requested using fromImplicits
  • constructor parameters do not need to be implicit, so you avoid unintended consequences of that (i.e. params being seen as implicits within the class body).

Complete example

See ComponentsExample.scala