Platform independent reflection for Scala
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portable-scala-reflect: platform-agnostic reflection for Scala

The various platforms supported by Scala (JVM, JavaScript and Native) have varying support for run-time reflection. Even the subset of functionality that is supported across the platforms is exposed through different APIs.

This library exposes a unified, portable API for run-time reflection in Scala. It currently supports Scala/JVM and Scala.js, but will eventually support Scala Native as well (currently blocked on scala-native#1279). To be portable, only the subset of reflection capabilities that is implementable across all platforms is exposed.


Add the following line to your (cross-)project's settings in build.sbt:

libraryDependencies += "org.portable-scala" %%% "portable-scala-reflect" % "0.1.0"

portable-scala-reflect 0.1.0 supports:

  • Scala 2.10.x, 2.11.x, 2.12.x and 2.13.0-M4
  • Scala/JVM
  • Scala.js 0.6.x and 1.0.0-M5


Instantiate a class given its name

In order to reflectively instantiate a class, portable-scala-reflect demands that you "enable reflective instantiation" for it. This is the case if:

  • The class is annotated with @org.portablescala.reflect.annotation.EnableReflectiveInstantiation, or
  • The class directly or indirectly extend a class or trait annotated with that annotation.

For example:

import org.portablescala.reflect.annotation.EnableReflectiveInstantiation

class A // discoverable

trait SuperTrait

class B extends SuperTrait // discoverable

class C extends B // discoverable

class D // NOT discoverable

In addition, a class must satisfy the following properties to be discoverable:

  • It must be concrete
  • It must have at least one public constructor
  • It must not be a local class, i.e., defined inside a method

If a class is discoverable, you can use the method lookupInstantiatableClass of org.portablescala.reflect.Reflect to get an InstantiatableClass representing it using:

import org.portablescala.reflect._

val clsOpt = Reflect.lookupInstantiatableClass("fully.qualified.ClassName", someClassLoader)

The someClassLoader argument is optional, and defaults to the current class loader at call site. It is only meaningful on the JVM.

Once you have an InstantiatableClass, you can use its methods to instantiate the class. A typical use case is to instantiate the class using its no-argument constructor:

val cls = clsOpt.get // or any safer way to extract the Option
val instance = cls.newInstance()

For other constructors, you need to use declaredConstructors or getConstructor() to find the appropriate InvokableConstructor, given its parameter types:

val ctor = cls.getConstructor(classOf[Int], classOf[String])
val instance = ctor.newInstance(42, "hello")

Consult the Scaladoc of each method for more details (conditions, exceptional behavior, etc.).

Load the singleton instance of an object given its name

Similarly to classes, you must enable reflective instantiation on an object to be able to reflectively load it. In addition, the object must satisfy the following property to be discoverable:

  • It must be "static", i.e., top-level or defined inside a static object

Use the method Reflect.lookupLoadableModuleClass to discover an object ("module" is the technical name of an object in Scala).

import org.portablescala.reflect._

val clsOpt = Reflect.lookupLoadableModuleClass("fully.qualified.ObjectName$", someClassLoader)

The $ at the end of the object name is required.

Once you have a LoadableModuleClass, you can use its loadModule() method to load the singleton instance of the object:

val cls = clsOpt.get // or any safer way to extract the Option
val instance = cls.loadModule()

Consult the Scaladoc of each method for more details (conditions, exceptional behavior, etc.).

Reflectively call methods

portable-scala-reflect does not provide any API to reflectively call methods. If the name and signature of a method are statically known, it is possible to use a structural type in Scala instead, as follows:

val obj: Any = ??? // an object on which we want to call a method.

type ReflectiveAccess = {
  def theMethod(x: Int): Int

val result = obj.asInstanceOf[ReflectiveAccess].theMethod(42)

If the name or signature of the method is not statically known, you are out of luck: there is no way to perform such a reflective call in Scala.js nor Scala Native, so portable-scala-reflect does not provide any API for it.