A Thrift generator for Scala
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Scrooge is a thrift code generator written in Scala, which currently generates code for Scala and Java.

It's meant to be a replacement for the apache thrift code generator, and generates conforming, compatible binary codecs by building on top of libthrift.

Since Scala is API-compatible with Java, you can use the apache thrift code generator to generate Java files and use them from within Scala, but the generated code uses Java collections and mutable "bean" classes, causing some annoying boilerplate conversions to be hand-written. This is an attempt to bypass the problem by generating Scala code directly. It also uses Scala syntax so the generated code is much more compact.

There is a fairly comprehensive set of unit tests, which actually generate code, compile it, and execute it to verify expectations.

There are two sub-projects:

  • scrooge-generator: the code generator
  • scrooge-runtime: some base traits used by the generated code


  • Generates native Scala thrift codecs, in immutable and "builder" variants, using case classes and functions.

  • Generated code is templated using a mustache variant, making it easy to edit.

  • Finagle client/server adaptors, and Ostrich wrappers, can be optionally generated at the same time.

Building Scrooge

To build scrooge, use maven:

$ mvn clean package

Runtime dependency

There are a couple of classes needed by the generated code. These have been moved out of scrooge into a separate jar to keep dependencies small. Maven users need to add the following to the pom.xml file:


SBT users need this:

val scrooge_runtime = "com.twitter.scrooge" % "scrooge-runtime" % "3.0.1"

Running Scrooge as a command line tool

To get command line help:

$ scrooge --help

To generate source with content written to the current directory:

$ scrooge <thrift-file1> [<thrift-file2> ...]

To generate source with content written to a specified directory, using extra include paths, rebuilding only those files that have changed:

$ scrooge
  -d <target-dir>
  -i <include-path>
  <thrift-file1> [<thrift-file2> ...]

A complete command line help menu:

Usage: scrooge [options] <files...>

        show this help screen
  -V | --version
        print version and quit
  -v | --verbose
        log verbose messages about progress
  -d <path> | --dest <path>
        write generated code to a folder (default: .)
  -i <path> | --import-path <path>
        path(s) to search for imported thrift files (may be used multiple times)
  -n <oldname>=<newname> | --namespace-map <oldname>=<newname>
        map old namespace to new (may be used multiple times)
        issue warnings on non-severe parse errors instead of aborting
  -s | --skip-unchanged
        Don't re-generate if the target is newer than the input
  -l <value> | --language <value>
        name of language to generate code in ('Java' and 'Scala' are currently supported)
        generate finagle classes
        generate ostrich server interface
        thrift files to compile

SBT Plugin

There's a plugin for SBT (0.11):


To use it, add a line like this to your plugins.sbt file:

addSbtPlugin("com.twitter" %% "sbt11-scrooge" % "1.0.0")

(or whatever the current version is). Full details are in the sbt-scrooge README.

Maven Plugin

We ship a scrooge-maven-plugin with Scrooge, as well as an example maven project. Please refer to the [example pom file] (https://github.com/twitter/scrooge/tree/master/scrooge-maven-plugin/demo/pom.xml)

Finagle integration

You can generate finagle binding code by passing the --finagle option to scrooge. For each thrift service, Scrooge will generate a wrapper class that builds Finagle services both on the server and client sides.

Here's an example, assuming your thrift service is

service BinaryService {
  binary fetchBlob(1: i64 id)

Scrooge generates the following wrapper class:

import com.twitter.finagle.Service
import com.twitter.finagle.thrift.{ThriftClientRequest,
  ThriftServerFramedCodec, ThriftClientFramedCodec}
object BinaryService {
  // vanilla interface
  trait Iface {
    def fetchBlob(id: Long): ByteBuffer

  // future-based Finagle interface
  trait FutureIface {
    def fetchBlob(id: Long): Future[ByteBuffer]

   The server side service wrapper takes a thrift protocol factory (to
   specify which wire protocol to use) and an implementation of
  class FinagledService(
    iface: FutureIface,
    val protocolFactory: TProtocolFactory
  ) extends Service[Array[Byte], Array[Byte]]

   The client wrapper implements FutureIface.
  class FinagledClient(
    val service: Service[ThriftClientRequest, Array[Byte]],
    val protocolFactory: TProtocolFactory = new TBinaryProtocol.Factory,
    override val serviceName: Option[String] = None,
    stats: StatsReceiver = NullStatsReceiver
  ) extends FutureIface {
      The method call encodes method name along with arguments in
      ThriftClientRequest and sends to the server, then decodes server
      response to reconstruct the return value.
    def fetchBlob(id: Long): Future[ByteBuffer]

To create a server, you need to provide an implementation of FutureIface, and use it with FinagledService:

// provide an implementation of the future-base service interface
class MyImpl extends BinaryService.FutureIface {
val protocol = new TBinaryProtocol.Factory()
val serverService = new BinaryService.FinagledService(new MyImpl, protocol)
val address = new InetSocketAddress(listenAddress, port)
var builder = ServerBuilder()

Creating a client is easy, you just need to build a finagle thrift client service to pass to FinagledClient.

val service = ClientBuilder()
  .hosts(new InetSocketAddress(host, port))
val client = new BinaryService.FinagledClient(service)

In both the server and client cases, you probably want to pass more configuration parameters to finagle, so check the finagle documentation for tweaks once you get things to compile.

Ostrich Integration

If you pass the "--ostrich" option, Scrooge will generate a convenience wrapper ThriftServer. Following the BinaryService example:

import com.twitter.ostrich.admin.Service
object BinaryService {
  trait Iface { ... }
  trait FutureIface  { ... }
  trait ThriftServer extends Service with FutureIface {
    val thriftPort: Int
    val serverName: String

    //You can override serverBuilder to provide additional configuration.
    def serverBuilder = ...

    // Ostrich interface implementation is generated. It operates on the server built by serverBuilder.
    def start() { ... }
    def shutdown() { ... }

To use the generated code Ostrich server:

//First, you need to provide an implementation, as seen previously in the "--finagle" example
class MyImpl extends BinaryService.FutureIface { ... }
val ostrichServer = new MyImpl with ThriftServer {
  // server configuration
  val thriftPort = ..
  val serverName = ..

Dependencies of the generated code

The plain code generated by Scrooge depends on apache libthrift and scrooge-runtime. You'll need to add the following dependencies to your project, if you use maven (other build systems are similar)


If you specify --finagle option, you need to have the following additional dependencies


If you specify --ostrich option, in addition to the above finagle dependencies, you still need:


Implementation Semantics

Thrift is severely underspecified with respect to the handling of required/optional/unspecified-requiredness and default values in various cases such as serialization, deserialization, and new instance creation, and different implementations do different things (see http://lionet.livejournal.com/66899.html for a good analysis).

Scrooge attempts to be as rigorous as possible in this regard with consistently applied and hopefully easy to understand rules.

  1. If neither "required" nor "optional" is declared for a field, it then has the default requiredness of "optional-in/required-out", or "optInReqOut" for short.
  2. It is invalid for a required field to be null and an exception will be thrown if you attempt to serialize a struct with a null required field.
  3. It is invalid for a required field to be missing during deserialization, and an exception will be thrown in this case.
  4. Optional fields can be set or unset, and the set-state is meaningful state of the struct that should be preserved by serialization/deserialization. Un-set fields are not present in the serialized representation of the struct.
  5. Declared default values will be assigned to any non-required fields that are missing during deserialization. If no default is declared for a field, a default value appropriate for the type will be used (see below).
  6. #4 and #5 imply that optional-with-default-value is not a tenable combination, and will be treated as if "optional" was not specified (optInReqOut-with-default-value).

Default values by type

  • bool = false
  • byte/i16/i32/i64/double = 0
  • string/struct/enum = null
  • list = Seq()
  • set = Set()
  • map = Map()

The following "matrix" defines all the scenarios where a value may not be present and how that case is handled:

required, no declared default value:

  • missing in deserialization:
    • throws TProtocolException
  • null in serialization:
    • throws TProtocolException
  • immutable instance instantiation:
    • must be explicitly provided

required, with declared default value:

  • missing in deserialization:
    • throws TProtocolException
  • null in serialization:
    • throws TProtocolException
  • immutable instance instantiation:
    • declared default value

optInReqOut, no declared default value:

  • missing in deserialization:
    • default value for type
  • null in serialization:
    • throws TProtocolException
  • immutable instance instantiation:
    • must be explicitly provided

optInReqOut, with declared default value:

  • missing in deserialization:
    • declared default value
  • null in serialization:
    • throws TProtocolException
  • immutable instance instantiation:
    • declared default value

optional, no declared default value:

  • missing in deserialization:
    • None
  • None in serialization:
    • omitted
  • immutable instance instantiation:
    • None

optional, with declared default value:

  • case not valid, treated as optInReqOut with declared default value


Scrooge is licensed under the Apache 2 license, which you can find in the included file LICENSE.


  • Chunyan Song

Credits / Thanks

  • Jorge Ortiz
  • Robey Pointer
  • Ian Ownbey
  • Jeremy Cloud
  • Nick Kallen
  • Kevin Oliver
  • Dana Contreras