simianquant / sbt-jni

Fork to simplify integration with windows

Version Matrix

Build Status Build status Download Gitter


A suite of plugins to simplify the creation and distribution of programs that use Java Native Interface (JNI). This is forked from sbt-jni to support Windows builds.

To Use

The plugin only supports sbt 1.x. To use, add the following line to project/plugins.sbt:

addSbtPlugin("com.simianquant" % "sbt-jni" % "0.1.0")


The plugin uses CMake to build the native implementations.

  1. On Linux, the default Makefile generator is used and no additional configuration, post installation of CMake, should be necessary
  2. On Windows, the NMake Makefile generator is used. NMake is distributed as a part of Visual Studio. The MSVC toolset should be available on the path. Instructions on how to do it can be found here.

Additionally, javah should be on the path.

Plugin Summary

Plugin Description Enabled
JniJavah Adds support for generating headers from classfiles that have @native methods. automatic
JniLoad Makes @nativeLoader annotation available, that injects code to transparently load native libraries. automatic
JniNative Adds sbt wrapper tasks around native build tools to ease building and integrating native libraries. manual
JniPackage Packages native libraries into multi-platform fat jars. No more manual library installation! automatic


This plugin wraps the JDK javah command.

Run sbt javah to generate C header files with prototypes for any methods marked as native. For example, the Scala class

package org.example
class Adder(val base: Int) {
  @native def plus(term: Int): Int // implemented in a native library

will yield this prototype

 * Class:     org_example_Adder
 * Method:    plus
 * Signature: (I)I
JNIEXPORT jint JNICALL Java_org_example_Adder_plus
  (JNIEnv *, jobject, jint);

The header output directory can be configured

target in javah := <dir> // defaults to target/native/include

Note that native methods declared both in Scala and Java are supported. Whereas Scala uses the @native annotation, Java uses the native keyword.


This plugin enables loading native libraries in a safe and transparent manner to the developer (no more explicit, static System.load("library") calls required). It does so by providing a class annotation which injects native loading code to all its annottees. Furthermore, in case a native library is not available on the current java.library.path, the code injected by the annotation will fall back to loading native libraries packaged according to the rules of JniPackage.

For example:

import ch.jodersky.jni.nativeLoader

// By adding this annotation, there is no need to call
// System.load("adder0") before accessing native methods.
class Adder(val base: Int) {
  @native def plus(term: Int): Int // implemented in

// The application feels like a pure Scala app.
object Main extends App {
  (new Adder(0)).plus(1)

Note: this plugin is just a shorthand for adding sbt-jni-macros (the project in macros/) and the scala-macros-paradise projects as provided dependencies.

See the annotation's implementation for details about the injected code.


JniNative adds the capability of building native code (compiling and linking) to sbt by interfacing with CMake. The implementation of this plugin is the main difference this fork and the original. The initial CMake configuration can be obtained by running sbt nativeInit <tool>. After this, projects are built by calling the sbt nativeCompile task.

Source and output directories are configurable:

sourceDirectory in nativeCompile := sourceDirectory.value / "native",
target in nativeCompile := target.value / "native" / (nativePlatform).value,


This plugin packages native libraries produced by JniNative in a way that they can be transparently loaded with JniLoad. It uses the notion of a native "platform", as defined in this file.

Canonical Use

Keep in mind that sbt-jni is a suite of plugins, there are many other use cases. This is a just a description of the simplest one.

  1. Define separate sub-projects for JVM and native sources. In myproject/build.sbt:

    lazy val core = project in file("myproject-core"). // regular scala code with @native methods
      dependsOn(native % Runtime) // remove this if `core` is a library, leave choice to end-user
    lazy val native = project in file("myproject-native"). // native code and build script
      enablePlugin(JniNative) // JniNative needs to be explicitly enabled

    Note that separate projects are not strictly required. They are strongly recommended nevertheless, as a portability-convenience tradeoff: programs written in a JVM language are expected to run anywhere without recompilation, but including native libraries in jars limits this portability to only platforms of the packaged libraries. Having a separate native project enables the users to easily swap out the native library with their own implementation.

  2. Initialize the native build tool from a template:

    1. Create the src/native directory in the native project
    2. Run nativeInit <libname> in the native project in the sbt console
  3. Implement core project:

    This step is identical to building a regular scala project, with the addition that some classes will also contain @native methods.

  4. Generate native headers:

    Run sbt javah in the core project

  5. Implement native headers:

    The function prototypes in the header files must be implemented in native code (such as C, C++) and built into a shared library. Run sbt nativeCompile to call the native build tool and build a shared library.

  6. Build/run/test:

    At this point, the project can be tested and run as any standard sbt project. For example, you can publish your project as a library (sbt publish), run it (sbt core/run) or simply run unit tests (sbt test). Packaging and recompiling of the native library will happen transparently.

  7. Develop:

    The usual iterative development process. Nothing speial needs to be done, except in case any @native methods are added/removed or their signature changed, then sbt javah needs to be run again.


The plugins' unit tests offer some simple examples.


This project is released under the terms of the 3-clause BSD license. See LICENSE for details.