Latest commit fe22366 Jul 19, 2016 @aoiroaoino aoiroaoino committed on GitHub Merge pull request #359 from julien-truffaut/arbitrary-function
upgrade scalacheck and use CoGen to generate random functions

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import sbt._
resolvers += Resolver.sonatypeRepo("releases")
resolvers += Resolver.sonatypeRepo("snapshots")

scalaVersion := "2.11.8"    // or "2.10.6"

val libraryVersion = "1.2.2"     // or "1.3.0-SNAPSHOT"

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  "com.github.julien-truffaut"  %%  "monocle-core"    % libraryVersion,
  "com.github.julien-truffaut"  %%  "monocle-generic" % libraryVersion,
  "com.github.julien-truffaut"  %%  "monocle-macro"   % libraryVersion,        
  "com.github.julien-truffaut"  %%  "monocle-state"   % libraryVersion,     
  "com.github.julien-truffaut"  %%  "monocle-refined" % libraryVersion,
  "com.github.julien-truffaut"  %%  "monocle-law"     % libraryVersion % "test" 

// for @Lenses macro support
addCompilerPlugin("org.scalamacros" %% "paradise" % "2.1.0" cross CrossVersion.full)

Table of contents


Monocle is a Lens library, or more generally an Optics library where Optics gather the concepts of Lens, Traversal, Optional, Prism and Iso. Monocle is strongly inspired by Haskell Lens.

What does it mean?

Optics are a set of purely functional abstractions to manipulate (get, set, modify) immutable objects. Optics compose between each other and particularly shine with nested objects.

Why do I need this?

Scala already provides getters and setters for case classes but modifying nested object is verbose which makes code difficult to understand and reason about. Let's have a look at some examples:

case class Street(name: String, ...)     // ... means it contains other fields
case class Address(street: Street, ...)
case class Company(address: Address, ...)
case class Employee(company: Company, ...)

Let's say we have an employee and we need to set the first character of his company street name address in upper case. Here is how we could write it in vanilla Scala:

val employee: Employee = ...

  company =
    address =
      street =
        name = // luckily capitalize exists

As you can see copy is not convenient to update nested objects as we need to repeat at each level the full path to reach it. Let's see what could we do with Monocle:

val _name   : Lens[Street  , String]  = ...  // we'll see later how to build Lens
val _street : Lens[Address , Street]  = ...
val _address: Lens[Company , Address] = ...
val _company: Lens[Employee, Company] = ...

(_company composeLens _address composeLens _street composeLens _name).modify(_.capitalize)(employee)

// you can achieve the same result with less characters using symbolic syntax

(_company ^|-> _address ^|-> _street ^|-> _name).modify(_.capitalize)(employee)

ComposeLens takes two Lens, one from A to B and another from B to C and creates a third Lens from A to C. Therefore, after composing _company, _address, _street and _name, we obtain a Lens from Employee to String (the street name).

More abstractions

In the above example, we used capitalize to upper case the first letter of a String. It works but it would be clearer if we could use Lens to zoom into the first character of a String. However, we cannot write such a Lens because a Lens defines how to focus from an object S into a mandatory object A and in our case, the first character of a String is optional as a String might be empty. For this we need a sort of partial Lens, in Monocle it is called Optional.

import monocle.function.headOption._ // to use headOption (a generic optic)
import monocle.std.string._          // to get String instance for HeadOption

(_company composeLens _address
          composeLens _street
          composeLens _name
          composeOptional headOption).modify(toUpper)(employee)

Similarly to composeLens, composeOptional takes two Optional, one from A to B and another from B to C and creates a third Optional from A to C. All Lens can be seen as Optional where the optional element to zoom to is always present, hence composing an Optional and a Lens always produces an Optional (see class diagram for full inheritance relation between Optics).

For more examples, see the example module.

Lens Creation

There are 3 ways to create Lens, each with their pro and cons:

  1. The manual method where we construct a Lens by passing get and set functions:

     val _company = Lens[Employee, Company]( c => e => e.copy(company = c))
     // or with some type inference
     val _company = Lens((_: Employee).company)( c => e => e.copy(company = c))
  2. The semi-automatic method using the GenLens blackbox macro:

     val _company = GenLens[Employee](
     val _name    = GenLens[Employee](
     // or
     val genLens = GenLens[Employee]
     val (_company, _name) = (genLens( , genLens(
  3. Finally, the fully automatic method using the @Lenses macro annotation. @Lenses generates Lens for every accessor of a case class in its companion object (even if there is no companion object defined). This solution is the most boiler plate free but it has several disadvantages:

    1. users need to add the macro paradise plugin to their project.
    2. poor IDE supports, at the moment only IntelliJ recognises the generated Lens.
    3. requires access to the case classes since you need to annotate them.

      @Lenses case class Employee(company: Company, name: String, ...)
      // generates Lens[Employee, Company]
      // and   : Lens[Employee, String]
      // you can add a prefix to Lenses constructor
      case class Employee(company: Company, name: String, ...)
      // generates Employee._company: Lens[Employee, Company]

Note: GenLens and @Lenses are both limited to case classes

Optics in the REPL and tut

Iso, Prism, Lens, Optional, Traversal and Setter are all type aliases for more general polymorphic optics, for example here is the definition of Lens:

type Lens[S, A] = PLens[S, S, A, A]

object Lens {
  def apply[S, A](get: S => A)(set: A => S => S): Lens[S, A] = 

This is a completely fine Scala definition and it will work perfectly in your code. However, if you try to create optics in the REPL you will probably encounter a similar error:

scala> import monocle.Lens
import monocle.Lens

scala> case class Example(s: String, i: Int)
defined class Example

scala> val s = Lens[Example, String](_.s)(s => _.copy(s = s))
s: monocle.Lens[Example,String] = monocle.PLens$$anon$7@46aa4219

scala> val i = Lens[Example, Int](_.i)(i => _.copy(i = i))
<console>:13: error: object Lens does not take type parameters.
       val i = Lens[Example, Int](_.i)(i => _.copy(i = i))

We managed to create the first Lens but the second call to apply failed. This is a known bug in the REPL which is tracked by SI-7139. You will also face this error if you use tut to create documentation.

Generic Optics and Instance Location Policy

A generic optic is an optic that is applicable to different types. For example, headOption is an Optional from some type S to its optional first element of type A. In order to use headOption (or any generic optics), you need to:

  1. import the generic optic in your scope via import monocle.function.headOption._ or import monocle.function._
  2. have the required instance of the type class monocle.HeadOption in your scope, e.g. if you want to use headOption from a List[Int], you need an instance of HeadOption[List[Int], Int]. This instance can be either provided by you or by Monocle.

Monocle defines generic optic instances in the following packages:

  1. monocle.std for standard Scala library and Scalaz classes, e.g. List, Vector, Map, IList, OneAnd
  2. monocle.generic for Shapeless classes, e.g. HList, CoProduct

An example shows how to use Monocle imports.

Optics Hierarchy

Class Diagram


  • Core defines the main library concepts: optics, typeclass, syntax. Core only depends on scalaz for type classes.
  • Law defines properties for optics using discipline and scalacheck.
  • Macro defines a set of macros to generate optics automatically.
  • Generic is an experiment to provide highly generalised Optics using shapeless.

Maintainers and Contributors

The current maintainers (people who can merge pull requests) are:

and the contributors (people who committed to Monocle).


If you have any question, we have a gitter channel and a mailing group