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§Working with sub-projects

A complex project is not necessarily composed of a single Play application. You may want to split a large project into several smaller applications, or even extract some logic into a standard Java or Scala library that has nothing to do with a Play application.

It will be helpful to read the sbt documentation on multi-project builds. Sub-projects can be fully defined in the parent project’s build file, although here we put sub-projects’ settings in their own build file.

§Adding a simple library sub-project

You can make your application depend on a simple library project. Just add another sbt project definition in your build.sbt file:

name := "my-first-application"

version := "1.0"

lazy val myFirstApplication = (project in file("."))

lazy val myLibrary = project

The lowercased project on the last line is a Scala Macro which will use the name of the val it is being assigned to in order to determine the project’s name and folder.

The myFirstApplication project declares the base project. If you don’t have any sub projects, this is already implied, however when declaring sub projects, it’s usually required to declare it so that you can ensure that it aggregates (that is, runs things like compile/test etc on the sub projects when run in the base project) and depends on (that is, adds the sub projects to the main projects classpath) the sub projects.

The above example defines a sub-project in the application’s myLibrary folder. This sub-project is a standard sbt project, using the default layout:

 └ build.sbt
 └ app
 └ conf
 └ public
 └ myLibrary
   └ build.sbt
   └ src
     └ main
       └ java
       └ scala

myLibrary has its own build.sbt file, this is where it can declare its own settings, dependencies etc.

When you have a sub-project enabled in your build, you can focus on this project and compile, test or run it individually. Just use the projects command in the Play console prompt to display all projects:

[my-first-application] $ projects
[info] In file:/Volumes/Data/gbo/myFirstApp/
[info] 	 * my-first-application
[info] 	   my-library

The default project is the one whose variable name comes first alphabetically. You may make your main project by making its variable name aaaMain. To change the current project use the project command:

[my-first-application] $ project my-library
[info] Set current project to my-library

When you run your Play application in dev mode, the dependent projects are automatically recompiled, and if something cannot compile you will see the result in your browser:

§Sharing common variables and code

If you want your sub projects and root projects to share some common settings or code, then these can be placed in a Scala file in the project directory of the root project. For example, in project/Common.scala you might have:

import sbt._
import Keys._

object Common {
  val settings: Seq[Setting[_]] = Seq(
    organization := "com.example",
    version := "1.2.3-SNAPSHOT"

  val fooDependency = "" %% "foo" % "2.4"

Then in each of your build.sbt files, you can reference anything declared in the file:

name := "my-sub-module"


libraryDependencies += Common.fooDependency

One thing to note is that if you have a mix of Play and non-Play projects, you may need to share Play configuration explicitly. For example, you may want to share the InjectedRoutesGenerator and specs2 for every Play project:

object Common {

  val playSettings = settings ++ Seq(
    routesGenerator := InjectedRoutesGenerator,
    libraryDependencies += specs2 % Test,
    resolvers += "scalaz-bintray" at ""

And in the sub-project’s build.sbt file, you would have the following:


§Splitting your web application into several parts

As a Play application is just a standard sbt project with a default configuration, it can depend on another Play application. You can make any sub module a Play application by adding the PlayJava or PlayScala plugins, depending on whether your project is a Java or Scala project, in its corresponding build.sbt file.

Note: In order to avoid naming collision, make sure your controllers, including the Assets controller in your subprojects are using a different name space than the main project. For example, controllers in the admin module should have the fully qualified package name of admin.MyController.

§Splitting the route file

It’s also possible to split the route file into smaller pieces. This is a very handy feature if you want to create a robust, reusable multi-module play application.

§Consider the following build configuration


name := "myproject"

lazy val admin = (project in file("modules/admin")).enablePlugins(PlayScala)

lazy val main = (project in file("."))


name := "myadmin"

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  "mysql" % "mysql-connector-java" % "5.1.41",

§Project structure

  └ controllers
  └ models
  └ views
  └ application.conf
  └ routes
  └ admin
    └ build.sbt
    └ conf
      └ admin.routes
    └ app
      └ controllers
      └ models
      └ views
  └ plugins.sbt

Note: Configuration and route file names must be unique in the whole project structure. Particularly, there must be only one application.conf file and only one routes file. To define additional routes or configuration in sub-projects, use sub-project-specific names. For instance, the route file in admin is called admin.routes. To use a specific set of settings in development mode for a sub project, it would be even better to put these settings into the build file, e.g. PlayKeys.devSettings += ("play.http.router", "admin.Routes").


GET /index                  controllers.HomeController.index()

->  /admin admin.Routes

GET     /assets/*file"/public", file)


GET /index                  controllers.admin.HomeController.index()

GET /assets/*file "/public/lib/myadmin", file)

Note: Resources are served from a unique classloader, and thus resource path must be relative from project classpath root.
Subprojects resources are generated in target/web/public/main/lib/{module-name}, so the resources are accessible from /public/lib/{module-name} when using play.api.Application#resources(uri) method, which is what the method does.

§Assets and controller classes should be all defined in the controllers.admin package

package controllers.admin;

import play.api.mvc.*;
import controllers.AssetsMetadata;
import play.api.http.HttpErrorHandler;

import javax.inject.Inject;

public class Assets extends controllers.Assets {

  public Assets(HttpErrorHandler errorHandler, AssetsMetadata meta) {
    super(errorHandler, meta);

  public Action<AnyContent> at(String path, String file) {
    boolean aggressiveCaching = true;
    return, file, aggressiveCaching);
import javax.inject._

import play.api.http.HttpErrorHandler

class Assets @Inject() (
    errorHandler: HttpErrorHandler,
    assetsMetadata: controllers.AssetsMetadata
) extends controllers.AssetsBuilder(errorHandler, assetsMetadata)

And a controller:

 * Copyright (C) Lightbend Inc. <>

package controllers.admin;

import play.mvc.Controller;
import play.mvc.Result;

public class HomeController extends Controller {
  public Result index() {
    return ok("admin");
package controllers.admin

import play.api.mvc._
import javax.inject.Inject

class HomeController @Inject() (val controllerComponents: ControllerComponents) extends BaseController {
  def index = Action { implicit request =>

§Reverse routing in admin

in case of a regular controller call:


and for Assets:"...")

§Through the browser








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