Getting Started With Docker, Scala & Sbt

Scala Application

There are three files in this example application:

  • build.sbt defines the build related information. We defined the name of the project, version number, and scala version here.
name := "HelloWorld"
version := "1.0"
scalaVersion := "2.12.2"
  • project/ defines the sbt version.
There are two sbt versions. One is for building the project itself, which is what is defined in the file here. There is a second sbt version that we’ll cover later, which is the sbt installed on the machine. We sometimes refer that as sbt-launcher and it is used to download and run a particular sbt version for building the project.
sbt.version = 0.13.15
  • src/main/scala/HelloWorld.scala is our main application which simply print Hello Word on the console.
object HelloWorld {
def main(args: Array[String]): Unit = {
println("Hello, world!")


To run this application, make sure you have sbt (a.k.a. sbt-launcher) install on your machine. To begin with, let’s check the sbt version:

$ sbt sbtVersion    
[info] 0.13.15

One launcher can launch many versions of sbt, and is generally backwards compatible. Therefore, this version number doesn’t necessarily have to match the version number defined in project/ But, in general, we would like to keep this sbt up to date.

If you don’t have sbt installed on your machine, check the download page on For example, on MacOS, you can install it via brew install sbt.

After installing sbt, we can run the application simply by sbt run. The command will take care of compiling the source code and launching the application.

$ sbt run
[info] Running HelloWorld
Hello, world!
[success] Total time: 0 s, completed 01-Jun-2017 01:02:03 AM



To run the application, we require the computer to have installed both Java and sbt. And that’s what we are going to specified in the Dockerfile.

We choose openjdk:8 as our base image to start with.

FROM openjdk:8

And we install sbt on top of that:

curl -L -o sbt-$SBT_VERSION.deb$SBT_VERSION.deb && \
dpkg -i sbt-$SBT_VERSION.deb && \
rm sbt-$SBT_VERSION.deb && \
apt-get update && \
apt-get install sbt && \
sbt sbtVersion

Set the working directory to HelloWorld:

WORKDIR /HelloWorld

Copy the current directory contents into the container at HelloWorld:

ADD . /HelloWorld

Run stb run when the container launches:

CMD sbt run

Docker image and container

An image is a lightweight, stand-alone, executable package that includes everything needed to run a piece of software, including the code, a runtime, libraries, environment variables, and config files.

A container is a runtime instance of an image — what the image becomes in memory when actually executed. It runs completely isolated from the host environment by default, only accessing host files and ports if configured to do so.

Now run the build command to create a Docker image. We tag it using -t so it has a friendly name and version.

$ docker build -t hello_world:v1 .
Successfully built 8508c6ecdf78
Successfully tagged hello_world:v1

The built image is in the machine’s local Docker image registry. We can list them via the docker images commend:

$ docker images
hello_world v1 2c43052fd1c5 8 minutes ago 774 MB
openjdk 8 ab0ecda9094c 11 days ago 610 MB
➜ ~

Finally, run the app in the container:

$ docker run hello_world:v1
[info] Loading project definition from /HelloWorld/project
[info] Compilation completed in 9.433 s
[info] Running HelloWorld
Hello, world!

I recently pushed the example project on GitHub. Feel free to check it out here and play around with it. Any improvements are also welcome!