Universal Plugin

The Universal Plugin creates a generic, or “universal” distribution package. This is called “universal packaging.” Universal packaging just takes a plain mappings configuration and generates various package files in the output format specified. Because it creates a distribution that is not tied to any particular platform it may require manual labor (more work from your users) to correctly install and set up.


Depending on what output format you want to use, you need one of the following applications installed

  • zip (if native)
  • gzip
  • xz
  • tar
  • hdiutil (for dmg)


There is a task for each output format


sbt Universal/packageBin


sbt Universal/packageZipTarball


sbt Universal/packageXzTarball


sbt Universal/packageOsxDmg

Required Settings

The Universal Plugin has no mandatory fields.

Enable the universal plugin



Settings and Tasks inherited from parent plugins can be scoped with Universal.

Universal packaging provides three Configurations:

For creating full distributions
For creating bundles of documentation
For creating bundles of source.

Here is how the values for name and packageName are used by the three configurations:

Universal / name := name.value

UniversalDocs / name := (Universal / name).value

UniversalSrc / name := (Universal / name).value

Universal / packageName := packageName.value


As we showed before, the universal packages are completely configured through the use of mappings. Simply specify the desired mappings for a given configuration. For example:

Universal / mappings += (Compile / packageBin).value -> "lib/foo.jar"

However, sometimes it may be advantageous to customize the files for each archive separately. For example, perhaps the .tar.gz has an additional README plaintext file in addition to a README.html. To add this just to the .tar.gz file, use the task-scope feature of sbt:

Universal / packageZipTarball / mappings += file("README") -> "README"

Besides mappings, the name, sourceDirectory and target configurations are all respected by universal packaging.

Note: The Universal plugin will make anything in a bin/ directory executable. This is to work around issues with JVM and file system manipulations.


Universal / package-bin
Creates the zip universal package.
Universal / package-zip-tarball
Creates the tgz universal package.
Universal / package-xz-tarball
Creates the txz universal package. The xz command can get better compression for some types of archives.
Universal / package-osx-dmg
Creates the dmg universal package. This only work on macOS or systems with hdiutil.
UniversalDocs / packageBin
Creates the zip universal documentation package.
UniversalDocs / packageZipTarball
Creates the tgz universal documentation package.
UniversalDocs / packageXzTarball
Creates the txz universal documentation package. The xz command can get better compression for some types of archives.


Universal Archive Options

You can customize the commandline options (if used) for the different zip formats. If you want to force local for the tgz output add this line:

Universal / packageZipTarball / universalArchiveOptions := Seq("--force-local", "-pcvf")

This will set the cli options for the packageZipTarball task in the Universal plugin to use the options --force-local and pcvf. Be aware that the above line will overwrite the default options. You may want to prepend your options, doing something like:

Universal / packageZipTarball / universalArchiveOptions :=
  (Seq("--exclude", "*~") ++ (Universal / packageZipTarball / universalArchiveOptions).value)

Currently, these task can be customized:

Universal / packageZipTarball / universalArchiveOptions
Universal / packageXzTarball / universalArchiveOptions

Getting Started with Universal Packaging

By default, all files found in the src/universal directory are included in the distribution. So, the first step in creating a distribution is to place files in this directory and organize them as you’d like in them to be in the distributed package. If your output format is a zip file, for example, although the distribution will consist of just one zip file, the files and directories within that zip file will reflect the same organization and structure as src/universal.

To add files generated by the build task to a distribution, simply add a mapping to the Universal / mappings setting. Let’s look at an example where we add the packaged jar of a project to the lib folder of a distribution:

Universal / mappings += {
  val jar = (Compile / packageBin).value
  jar -> ("lib/" + jar.getName)

The above does two things:

  1. It depends on Compile / packageBin which will generate a jar file form the project.
  2. It creates a mapping (a Tuple2[File, String]) which denotes the file and the location in the distribution as a string.

You can use this pattern to add anything you desire to the package.


If you are using an application archetype or the playframework, the jar mapping is already defined and you should not include these in your build.sbt. issue 227

Universal Conventions

This plugin has a set of conventions for universal packages that enable the automatic generation of native packages. The universal convention has the following package layout:

   <scripts and things you want on the path>
   <shared libraries>
   <configuration files that should be accessible using platform standard config locations.>
   <Documentation files that should be easily accessible. (index.html treated specially)>

If your plugin matches these conventions, you can enable the settings to automatically generate native layouts based on your universal package. To do so, add the following to your build.sbt:



In Linux, this mapping creates symlinks from platform locations to the install location of the universal package. For example, given the following packaging:


The mapGenericFilesToLinux settings will create the following package (symlinks denoted with ->):

     cool-tool  -> /usr/share/<package-name>/bin/cool-tool
/etc/<pkg-name> -> /usr/share/<package-name>/conf

The mapGenericFilesToWindows will construct an MSI that installs the application in <Platform Program Files>\<Package Name> and include the bin directory on Windows PATH environment variable (optionally disabled).

While these mappings provide a great start to nice packaging, it still may be necessary to customize the native packaging for each platform. This can be done by configuring those settings directly.

For example, even using generic mapping, debian has a requirement for changelog files to be fully formed. Using the above generic mapping, we can configure just this changelog in addition to the generic packaging by first defining a changelog in src/debian/changelog and then adding the following setting:

Debian / linuxPackageMappings +=
    ((Debian / sourceDirectory).value / "changelog") -> "/usr/share/doc/sbt/changelog.gz"
  ) withUser "root" withGroup "root" withPerms "0644" gzipped) asDocs()

Notice how we’re only modifying the package mappings for Debian linux packages.

For more information on the underlying packaging settings, see Windows Plugin and Linux Plugin documentation.

Change/Remove Top Level Directory in Output

Your output package (zip, tar, gz) by default contains a single folder with your application. If you want to change this folder or remove this top level directory completely use the topLevelDirectory setting.

Removing the top level directory

topLevelDirectory := None

Changing it to another value, e.g. the packageName without the version

topLevelDirectory := Some(packageName.value)

Or just a plain hardcoded string

topLevelDirectory := Some("awesome-app")

Skip packageDoc task on stage

The stage task forces a javadoc.jar build, which could slow down stage tasks performance. In order to deactivate this behaviour, add this to your build.sbt

compile / packageDoc / mappings := Seq()

Source issue 651.


The MappingsHelper class provides a set of helper functions to make mapping directories easier.

sbt 0.13.5 and plugin 1.0.x or higher

import NativePackagerHelper._

plugin version 0.8.x or lower

import com.typesafe.sbt.SbtNativePackager._
import NativePackagerHelper._

You get a set of methods which will help you to create mappings very easily.

Universal / mappings ++= directory("src/main/resources/cache")

Universal / mappings ++= contentOf("src/main/resources/docs")

Universal / mappings ++= directory(sourceDirectory.value / "main" / "resources" / "cache")

Universal / mappings ++= contentOf(sourceDirectory.value / "main" / "resources" / "docs")

Mapping Examples

SBT provides the IO and Path APIs, which help make defining custom mappings easy. The files will appear in the generate universal zip, but also in your debian/rpm/msi/dmg builds as described above in the conventions.

The Compile / packageBin dependency is only needed if your files get generated during the packageBin command or before. For static files you can remove it.

Mapping a complete directory

There are some helper methods so you can create a mapping for a complete directory:

For static content, you can just add the directory to the mapping:

Universal / mappings ++= directory("SomeDirectoryNameToInclude")

If you want to add everything in a directory where the path for the directory is dynamic, e.g. the scala-2.10/api directory that is nested under in the target directory, and target is defined in a task:

(Universal / mappings) ~= (_ ++ directory(target.value / "scala-2.10" / "api"))

You can also use the following approach if, for example, you need more flexibility:

(Universal / mappings) ++= {
    val dir = target.value / "scala-2.10" / "api"
    (dir ** AllPassFilter) pair relativeTo(dir.getParentFile)

Here is what happens in this code:

dir.*** is a PathFinder method that creates a sequence of every file under a directory, including the directory itself.

relativeTo() returns a String that is the path relative to whatever you pass to it.

dir.getParentFile returns the parent of dir. In this example, it’s the parent directory of whatever target is.

pair is a PathFinder method that takes a function and applies it to every file (in the sequence), and returns a (file, function-result) tuple.

Putting it all together, this creates a map of every file under target/scala-2.10/api (including the directory target/scala-2.10/api itself) with a string that is the path to the parent of target. This is a mapping for every file and a string that tells the universal packager where it is located.

For example:

if target = /Users/you/dev/fantasticApp/src/scala/fantasticApp-0.1-HOTFIX01

and fantasticApp-0.1-HOTFIX01/scala-2.10/api/ contains the files


Then the code above will produce this mapping:




Note that the first item of each pair is the full path to where the file exists on the system /Users/you....., and the second part is the just the path starting after .../scala. That second part is what is returned from <each file>.relativeTo(dir.getParentFile).

Mapping the content of a directory (excluding the directory itself)

Universal / mappings ++= {
    val dir = target.value / "scala-2.10" / "api"
    (dir ** AllPassFilter --- dir) pair relativeTo(dir)

The dir gets excluded and is used as root for relativeTo(dir).

Filter/Remove mappings

If you want to remove mappings, you have to filter the current list of mappings. This example demonstrates how to build a fat jar with sbt-assembly, but using all the convenience of the sbt native packager archetypes.

tl;dr how to remove stuff

// removes all jar mappings in universal and appends the fat jar
Universal / mappings := {
    // universalMappings: Seq[(File,String)]
    val universalMappings = (Universal / mappings).value
    val fatJar = (Compile / assembly).value

    // removing means filtering
    // notice the "!" - it means NOT, so only keep those that do NOT have a name ending with "jar"
    val filtered = universalMappings filter {
        case (file, name) =>  ! name.endsWith(".jar")

    // add the fat jar to our sequence of things that we've filtered
    filtered :+ (fatJar -> ("lib/" + fatJar.getName))

The complete build.sbt should contain these settings if you want a single assembled fat jar.

// the assembly settings

// we specify the name for our fat jar
assembly / jarName := "assembly-project.jar"

// using the java server for this application. java_application would be fine, too

// removes all jar mappings in universal and appends the fat jar
Universal / mappings := {
    val universalMappings = (Universal / mappings).value
    val fatJar = (Compile / assembly).value
    val filtered = universalMappings filter {
        case (file, name) =>  ! name.endsWith(".jar")
    filtered :+ (fatJar -> ("lib/" + fatJar.getName))

// the bash scripts classpath only needs the fat jar
scriptClasspath := Seq( (assembly / jarName).value )