Dotty Documentation


Given Imports

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A special form of import is used to import given instances. Example:

object A {
  class TC
  given tc as TC
  def f where TC = ???
object B {
  import A._
  import given A._

In the code above, the import A._ clause of object B will import all members of A except the given instance tc. Conversely, the second import import given A._ will import only that given instance.

Generally, a normal import clause brings definitions other than given instances into scope whereas a given import brings only given instances into scope.

There are two main benefits arising from these rules:

  • It is made clearer where givens in scope are coming from. In particular, it is not possible to hide imported givens in a long list of regular imports.
  • It enables importing all givens without importing anything else. This is particularly important since givens can be anonymous, so the usual recourse of using named imports is not practical.

Importing By Type

Since givens can be anonymous it is not always practical to import them by their name, and wildcard imports are typically used instead. By-type imports provide a more specific alternative to wildcard imports, which makes it clearer what is imported. Example:

import given A.{_: TC}

This imports any given in A that has a type which conforms to TC. Importing givens of several types T1,...,Tn is expressed by bounding with a union type.

import given A.{_: T1 | ... | Tn}

Importing all instances of a parameterized if expressed by wildcard arguments. For instance, assuming the object

object Instances {
  given intOrd as Ordering[Int]
  given [T: Ordering] listOrd as Ordering[List[T]]
  given ec as ExecutionContext = ...
  given im as Monoid[Int]

the import

import given Instances.{_: Ordering[?] | ExecutionContext}

would import the intOrd, listOrd, and ec instances but leave out the im instance, since it fits none of the specified bounds.

By-type imports can be mixed with by-name imports. If both are present in an import clause, by-type imports come last. For instance, the import clause

import given Instances.{im, _: Ordering[?]}

would import im, intOrd, and listOrd but leave out ec.

Bounded wildcard selectors also work for normal imports and exports. For instance, consider the following enum definition:

enum Color {
  case Red, Green, Blue, Magenta

  def isPrimary(c: Color): Boolean = ...
export Color.{_: Color}

The export clause makes all four three Color values available as unqualified constants, but leaves the isPrimary method alone.


The rules for imports given above have the consequence that a library would have to migrate in lockstep with all its users from old style implicits and normal imports to given instances and imports.

The following modifications avoid this hurdle to migration.

  1. An "import given" also brings old style implicits into scope. So, in Scala 3.0 an old-style implicit definition can be brought into scope either by a normal import or by an import given.

  2. In Scala 3.1, old-style implicits accessed through a normal import will give a deprecation warning.

  3. In some version after 3.1, old-style implicits accessed through a normal import will give a compiler error.

These rules mean that library users can use import given to access old-style implicits in Scala 3.0, and will be gently nudged and then forced to do so in later versions. Libraries can then switch to representation clauses once their user base has migrated.