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Bazel is a build tool that is used by Google and other companies to build large monorepos. It is a bit more complex to set up than other build tools, but it is praised for its speed and scalability. It is also being used more and more in a lot of Scala codebases.

Since, there is no way to currently export Bazel build definition to Bloop, Metals is able to work with Bazel via the Bazel BSP server. Thanks to the great work by the JetBrains team, Metals is able to work almost directly with Bazel and reuse all its perks.


Currently, newest Bazel 7.x.y is not supported by Bazel BSP, so it will also not work with Metals. For updates on this issue, please check the Bazel BSP repository

Automatic installation

The first time you open Metals in a new Bazel workspace you will be prompted to import the build. Select "Import Build" to start the automatic installation. This will create all the needed files, this includes:

  • projectview.bazel

This file contains the default settings configured so that Metals can work with Bazel without a hitch. By default it will work for all targets in the workspace, but can be easily modified to only work with a subset, which will work much faster.


build_manual_targets: false

derive_targets_from_directories: false


enabled_rules option is especially important, as there are cases that Bazel BSP will not correctly detect scala rules within the workspace. You can share this file across the team or add it to your .gitignore.

  • .bsp/bazelbsp.json

This file contains all the neccessary info to start the Bazel BSP server.

"name": "bazelbsp",
"argv": [
"<classpath on your machine>",
"version": "3.1.0-20240130-33760f0-NIGHTLY",
"bspVersion": "2.1.0",
"languages": [

After these files are created and Metals connected to the build server, you should then be able to edit and compile your code utilizing most of the available features.

There are some caveats however, as it's not currently possible to set up everything automatically for the user:

  1. Sources need to be enabled via fetch_sources for library dependencies in the Bazel definition. For example:
artifacts = ["com.github.ghostdogpr:caliban_2.13:2.0.1"],
maven_install_json = "@//:maven_install.json",
repositories = [
version_conflict_policy = "pinned",
fetch_sources = True,
  1. Go to references requires semanticdb plugin to be enabled in the Bazel build. This can be done by adding the following to your BUILD file:
load("@io_bazel_rules_scala//scala:scala_toolchain.bzl", "scala_toolchain")

name = "semanticdb_toolchain_impl",
enable_semanticdb = True,
semanticdb_bundle_in_jar = False,
visibility = ["//visibility:public"],

name = "semanticdb_toolchain",
toolchain = "semanticdb_toolchain_impl",
toolchain_type = "@io_bazel_rules_scala//scala:toolchain_type",
visibility = ["//visibility:public"],

and in your WORKSPACE file:


You can find a full example in the official rules scala repository

Manual installation

Manual installation is not recommended for Bazel, as there is a couple of steps, which are not trivial for beginners. But if you are interested in the process anyway, here is a short guide:

  1. Have coursier installed
  2. Run in the directory where Bazel BSP should be installed:
cs launch org.jetbrains.bsp:bazel-bsp:<version> -M org.jetbrains.bsp.bazel.install.Install -- --targets //...

Please check release to find the newest available version or check for the latest nightly using cs complete-dep org.jetbrains.bsp:bazel-bsp: command.

  1. Use Metals: Connect to build server command if Metals didn't pick up the new bsp configuration automatically.

Additional remarks

Currently (Metals 1.2.1), when using Bazel, Metals will try to get scalac options for every target, which underneath will call bazel query for every target. This can be slow for large workspaces. To mitigate this, you can set targets manually in projectview.bazel. This will speed up the import process significantly.

There is work ongoing to improve the performance of Bazel in Metals.


Bazel is restarting between CLI and Metals

This possibly means that some of the environment variables are set to different values between what Metals and Bazel are using. Some of the variables that influence this are PATH, PWD, JAVA_HOME and others. Make sure that these are set to the same values in both environments. If possible let us know if we can improve the default behaviour of Metals to avoid this issue.