Database access with ScalikeJDBC


In the previous part of this series, we added Scaldi to our sample application. This time we are going to start using a database access library called ScalikeJDBC.


My examples are based on the blog-ecosystem-intro branch of the main book repo, so if you want to follow, just grab it here:

$ git clone .
$ git checkout blog-ecosystem-intro

Generally, if you need to access your database from Scala, there are many available libraries. The most popular ones are:

I personally found Slick overly sophisticated, but this is a good library that has many fans and you should check it out. As for ScalikeJDBC, I use it by default in all my projects, because it offers a great balance between flexibility and reliability while staying extremely lightweight.


The ScalikeJDBC official website says that in order to start you need the following:

  • the library itself
  • the logback-classic implementation for slf4j
  • a JDBC driver for your database

I would also suggest adding scalikejdbc-config, because it makes configuration so much easier. Let's add all these dependencies to the build.sbt file:

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  // ...
  "org.scalikejdbc" %% "scalikejdbc"        % "2.3.5",
  "org.scalikejdbc" %% "scalikejdbc-config" % "2.3.5",
  "com.h2database"  %  "h2"                % "1.4.191",
  "ch.qos.logback"  %  "logback-classic"   % "1.1.3"

We should also specify connection properties in the application.conf file:


Finally, we need to configure ScalikeJDBC. Since we're using scalikejdbc-config, the initialization is extremely simple. We only need to invoke DBs.setupAll() when the app starts and DBs.closeAll() when it stops. Since our application life cycle is already managed by Scaldi, we need to add the following to the Initializer class.

class Initializer {
  def init() = {
  def stop() = {

It looks very simple but that's really all to it and now we are ready to work with the database.

Working with data

We need some real data, so let's create a table called users and add one record. It's better to allow Play to handle schema evolutions than do it ourselves, so let's put the schema changes to the 1.sql file inside the conf/evolutions/default directory:

# --- !Ups

create table users(
  user_id uuid primary key,
  user_code varchar(255) not null,
  first_name varchar(255) null,
  last_name varchar(255) null,
  created timestamp not null

insert into users values(RANDOM_UUID(), 'joeb', 'Joe', 'Black', CURRENT_TIMESTAMP());

# --- !Downs

drop table users;

Since we want to use Play evolutions, we need to activate the corresponding module in build.sbt:

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  // ...

And if we want to make Play apply the evolutions automatically, we need to add this to application.conf:


Now, in our app we want to deal with Scala objects and not tabular data, so let's create a case class User that will represent a database record:

case class User(userId: UUID, userCode: String, firstName: Option[String],
  lastName: Option[String],  created: DateTime)

Note that since we declared both first_name and last_name as nullable columns, we need to reflect it by making corresponding fields Options. ScalikeJDBC will map database NULLs to Scala Nones automatically and we only just need to use the right method. Let's also create a companion object and define a method that will be responsible for the actual mapping:

object User {
  def fromDb(rs: WrappedResultSet): User = {
    val idStr = rs.string("user_id")
    val userCode = rs.string("user_code")
    val firstName = rs.stringOpt("first_name")
    val lastName = rs.stringOpt("last_name")
    val created = rs.jodaDateTime("created")
    User(UUID.fromString(idStr), userCode, firstName, lastName, created)

Note that we're using rs.string() for getting non-nullable strings and rs.stringOpt() for getting nullable ones. ScalikeJDBC also supports JodaTime out of the box and provides corresponding methods for convenient mappings.

Finally, we need to define a service that we can use to retrieve user records from the database:

class UserService {
  def allUsers: Seq[User] = DB.readOnly { implicit session =>
    sql"select * from users".map(User.fromDb).list().apply()

The allUsers method demonstrates a typical usage of ScalikeJDBC's SQLInterpolation. We write our query and then map the result to the domain class. After that we're using list() to reflect the fact that we expect the sequence of records and finally, we're calling apply() that does the actual work.

Note that the select query looks like a string, but behind the scenes it converts into a statically-typed PreparedStatement. It basically means that we can pass string arguments to the query without introducing any security risks:

class UserService {
  // ...
  def findUser(userCode: String): Option[User] = DB.readOnly { implicit session =>
    sql"select * from users where user_code = $userCode limit 1".

Here we're using headOption() instead of list(), to reflect that we expect one result at most.


I hope now you understand why ScalikeJDBC is such a great library. In addition to SQLInterpolation, it also provides query DSL, which is more type-safe. If you want to know more about using ScalikeJDBC as well as many other tools for building real Web applications, check out my book here.