Use cases

This doc page is specific to features shipped in Scala 2, which have either been removed in Scala 3 or replaced by an alternative. Unless otherwise stated, all the code examples in this page assume you are using Scala 2.


AST manipulation in macros and compiler plugins

Quasiquotes were designed primary as tool for ast manipulation in macros. A common workflow is to deconstruct arguments with quasiquote patterns and then construct a rewritten result with another quasiquote:

// macro that prints the expression code before executing it
object debug {
  def apply[T](x: => T): T = macro impl
  def impl(c: Context)(x: c.Tree) = { import c.universe._
    val q"..$stats" = x
    val loggedStats = stats.flatMap { stat =>
      val msg = "executing " + showCode(stat)
      List(q"println($msg)", stat)

// usage
object Test extends App {
  def faulty: Int = throw new Exception
  debug {
    val x = 1
    val y = x + faulty
    x + y

// output
executing val x: Int = 1
executing val y: Int = x.+(Test.this.faulty)

To simplify integration with macros we’ve also made it easier to simply use trees in macro implementations instead of the reify-centric Expr api that might be used previously:

// 2.10
object Macro {
  def apply(x: Int): Int = macro impl
  def impl(c: Context)(x: c.Expr[Int]): c.Expr[Int] = { import c.universe._
    c.Expr(q"$x + 1")

// in 2.11 you can also do it like that
object Macro {
  def apply(x: Int): Int = macro impl
  def impl(c: Context)(x: c.Tree) = { import c.universe._
    q"$x + 1"

You no longer need to wrap the return value of a macro with c.Expr, or to specify the argument types twice, and the return type in impl is now optional.

Quasiquotes can also be used “as is” in compiler plugins as the reflection API is strict subset of the compiler’s Global API.

Just in time compilation

Thanks to the ToolBox API, one can generate, compile and run Scala code at runtime:

scala> val code = q"""println("compiled and run at runtime!")"""
scala> val compiledCode = toolbox.compile(code)
scala> val result = compiledCode()
compiled and run at runtime!
result: Any = ()

Offline code generation

Thanks to the new showCode “pretty printer” one can implement an offline code generator that does AST manipulation with the help of quasiquotes, and then serializes that into actual source code right before writing it to disk:

object OfflineCodeGen extends App {
  def generateCode() =
    q"package mypackage { class MyClass }"
  def saveToFile(path: String, code: Tree) = {
    val writer = new java.io.PrintWriter(path)
    try writer.write(showCode(code))
    finally writer.close()
  saveToFile("myfile.scala", generateCode())

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