Rough Guide for Setting Up an SBT Project

This post is targeted at CSCI 4370/6370 (Databases) people at UGA.

We are expected to use Java 12, SBT as a build tool, as well as JUnit for unit testing. This post touches on using Git and setting up the SBT and JUnit bits.


I almost can’t imagine doing a group project of the magnitude expected in this class without version control, so if you don’t know git stuff, here’s some of the basics. I won’t go into specifics, but you only need a few commands to really get started as long you don’t get messy merge conflicts or have to rebase:

Initial stuff:

  • git init
  • git add .
  • git commit -m "Initial commit."
  • Create a repo on GitHub
  • git remote add origin
  • git push -u origin master

I also recommend setting up an SSH key to streamline committing.

Typical-use stuff:

  • git clone
  • git add .
  • git commit (if you need to make a longer commit message)
  • git commit -m "Short commit message." (if you have a shorter commit message)
  • git commit --amend (change the last commit you made. Only use this if you catch a typo or whatever before you push)
  • git push
  • git pull

Always pull before you commit. Strive to coordinate with your groupmates to always be working on different parts of files to avoid merge conflicts. Don’t force push unless you have a very good reason to. (Don’t force push).

For the person in the group making the initial commit

We need to use private git repositories for reasons of academic honesty. We get private repositories free via GitHub education. The person setting up the initial commit needs to create a build.sbt file in the directory they create for the project root. Here’s what I would recommend:

name := "Program1"

// This forbids including Scala related libraries into the dependency
autoScalaLibrary := false

// Compile with preview features enabled
javacOptions ++= Seq("--enable-preview", "-source", "12")

// To run with preview features, set JAVA_OPTS='--enable-preview'
// in your shell.

// Set up JUnit
libraryDependencies += "junit" % "junit" % "4.12"
libraryDependencies += "com.novocode" % "junit-interface" % "0.11" % "test"

Note the flags for compilation. Since the skeleton code uses preview features, we have to compile with --enable-preview.

Setting up --enable-preview when running is trickier. I initially tried using javaOptions ++= Seq("--enable-preview") in build.sbt, but this wasn’t working. Even setting fork := true (see forking in SBT), it still wasn’t working. This may or may not be due to a current (09/03/19) open issue for SBT, but regardless, trying to mess with javaOptions in build.sbt wasn’t proving fruitful.

I chose to add the --enable-preview flag to the Java run command via an environment variable in my shell. This is very much a sledgehammer approach (i.e., neither clean nor elegant), but since I’m only using Java for this class at the moment, I don’t really care. I added this to my .bash_profile (but something similar would work with zsh, fish, etc.) and then restarted my shell:

export JAVA_OPTS='--enable-preview'

After all of this, build the directory structure (run these from the project root directory):

mkdir -p src/{main,test}/{java,resources,scala}
mkdir lib project target store

The store/ directory is not something you usually need for an SBT project (all the other directories are standard). Dr. Miller’s code stores .dbf files in this directory by default, which is why we create it here.

You should put Dr. Miller’s four initial Java files in src/main/java/. You should also comment out the lines in his makeMap() function in that cause compilation errors. He said we’ll get to these later in the class.

You should also make a .gitignore file. I find it helpful to start out ignoring everything, and then only add files that you know you want version controlled. This lets everyone use whatever IDEs they want without getting directories like .idea/ floating around in the repo when they shouldn’t.

# ignore everything but .gitignore, build.sbt,
# and the src/ directory

Finally, you should add a file. You can update this over time with information on how to build and run (which we need to do for our submission anyway).

Then add/commit/push to a private repo, and give your groupmates access to your private repo by adding them as collaborators.

For the other people in the group

  • Run git clone, based on the repo your groupmate set up
    • If they followed the above, this repo contains four things: .gitignore, build.sbt,, and the src/main/java/ directory (which contains the initial files Dr. Miller gave us).
  • cd into the cloned directory, then create the rest of the basic directory structure:
mkdir -p src/{main,test}/{java,resources,scala}
mkdir lib project target store

Unit testing

As long you use the build.sbt file from above, SBT will handle the dependencies, and you shouldn’t need to manually install a JUnit JAR. This means you can just set up a test class and go from there. For example, if you call your test class, you would put it in src/test/java, and it might look something like:

import org.junit.Test;
import static org.junit.Assert.*;

public class TableTest {

    public void testSelect() {
        assertEquals(expectedTable, actualTable);

    public void testProject() {
        assertEquals(expectedTable, actualTable);


You’ll have to override the equals method in to be able to do proper unit testing on Tables (he didn’t give us an equals method definition in the skeleton code). Make sure you think about shallow copies and deep copies in your comparisons of object attributes.

public boolean equals(Object o) {
    boolean equal;
    return equal;

SBT stuff

SBT seems a lot easier to use than Maven, so that’s a plus.

  • It is easiest to do SBT via command line so that you don’t have to worry about different IDE plugins and such across group members.
  • Download SBT from the SBT site. Add it to your path if it doesn’t automatically get put there.
  • Read up on the basic commands.
  • cd into your project directory, the one with build.sbt
  • Run sbt to start up the SBT shell
  • In the SBT shell, you can use commands like compile, runMain MovieDB, test, and so on.

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