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Monocle is an optics library for Scala (and Scala.js) strongly inspired by Haskell Lens.

Optics are a group of purely functional abstractions to manipulate (get, set, modify, …) immutable objects.

Getting started

Monocle is published to Maven Central and cross-built for Scala 2.12 and 2.13 so you can just add the following to your build:

val monocleVersion = "2.0.0" // depends on cats 2.x

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  "com.github.julien-truffaut" %%  "monocle-core"  % monocleVersion,
  "com.github.julien-truffaut" %%  "monocle-macro" % monocleVersion,
  "com.github.julien-truffaut" %%  "monocle-law"   % monocleVersion % "test"

If you want to use macro annotations such as @Lenses, you will also need to include:

addCompilerPlugin("org.scalamacros" %% "paradise" % "2.1.1" cross CrossVersion.full)


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

case class Street(number: Int, name: String)
case class Address(city: String, street: Street)
case class Company(name: String, address: Address)
case class Employee(name: String, company: Company)

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

val employee = Employee("john", Company("awesome inc", Address("london", Street(23, "high street"))))
  company =
    address =
      street =
        name = // luckily capitalize exists
// res0: Employee = Employee(john,Company(awesome inc,Address(london,Street(23,High street))))

As we can see copy is not convenient to update nested objects because we need to repeat ourselves. Let’s see what could we do with Monocle (type annotations are only added for clarity):

import monocle.Lens
import monocle.macros.GenLens

val company   : Lens[Employee, Company] = GenLens[Employee](
val address   : Lens[Company , Address] = GenLens[Company](_.address)
val street    : Lens[Address , Street]  = GenLens[Address](_.street)
val streetName: Lens[Street  , String]  = GenLens[Street](

company composeLens address composeLens street composeLens streetName

composeLens takes two Lenses, one from A to B and another one 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). Now we can use this Lens issued from the composition to modify the street name using the function capitalize:

(company composeLens address composeLens street composeLens streetName).modify(_.capitalize)(employee)
// res2: Employee = Employee(john,Company(awesome inc,Address(london,Street(23,High street))))

Here modify lifts a function String => String to a function Employee => Employee. It works but it would be clearer if we could zoom into the first character of a String with a Lens. However, we cannot write such a Lens because Lenses require the field they are directed at to be mandatory. In our case the first character of a String is optional as a String can be empty. So we need another abstraction that would be a sort of partial Lens, in Monocle it is called an Optional.

import monocle.function.Cons.headOption // to use headOption (an optic from Cons typeclass)
(company composeLens address
         composeLens street
         composeLens streetName
         composeOptional headOption).modify(_.toUpper)(employee)
// res3: Employee = Employee(john,Company(awesome inc,Address(london,Street(23,High street))))

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

Monocle offers various functions and macros to cut the boilerplate even further, here is an example:

import monocle.macros.syntax.lens._
// import monocle.macros.syntax.lens._

// res4: Employee = Employee(john,Company(awesome inc,Address(london,Street(23,High street))))

Please consult the documentation or the scaladoc for more details and examples.

Maintainers and contributors

Monocle is available thanks to its maintainers (people who can merge pull requests):

and its contributors (people who have pushed commits to Monocle).

All code is available to you under the MIT license, available here. The design is informed by many other projects, in particular Haskell Lens.

Copyright the maintainers, 2016.