Non-Automatic Derivation

All the examples in the documentation rely on automatic derivation of readers and writers for case classes and sealed traits. That is the recommended way of using PureConfig, in line with its core goal of providing a boilerplate-free but still type-safe way of handling config files.

However, some users may prefer to declare explicitly their intention to derive readers for a type, some advanced users may have their own ways of deriving readers and some may not want to use derivation at all. PureConfig actually provides three ways of setting up reader derivation, which are presented in the next sections.


First, let’s define an example case class and a config for us to load:

import com.typesafe.config.ConfigFactory
import pureconfig._

case class Person(name: String, surname: String)

val conf = ConfigFactory.parseString("{ name: John, surname: Doe }")

Automatic reader derivation is used throughout all the documentation pages. It is activated simply by importing everywhere readers are needed (for example, where ConfigSource#load is used):


This import provides ConfigReader instances for all supported classes out-of-the-box:

// res0: ConfigReader.Result[Person] = Right(Person("John", "Doe"))

Internally, derivation is made through the use of shapeless, a generic programming Scala library.

Custom readers can still be placed in the companion object of the respective classes; PureConfig will make sure that they are used instead of the automatically-derived ones.


With semi-automatic derivation, readers can still be derived using all the machinery presented on these documentation pages, but the reader instances are not provided as implicits. Instead, PureConfig provides two one-liner methods to create derived instances, which you must put somewhere on the implicit scope.

Semi-automatic derivation is enabled by importing pureconfig.generic.semiauto._. We can now explicitly define the reader for Person by calling deriveReader:

import pureconfig.generic.semiauto._

implicit val personReader = deriveReader[Person]

We are now ready to read Person configs:

// res2: ConfigReader.Result[Person] = Right(Person("John", "Doe"))

Semi-Automatic for Sealed Families

To support a sealed family with semi-automatic derivation, you’ll need to provide a derivation for every concrete member of the family and the base of the family.

sealed trait Occupation extends Product with Serializable

object Occupation {
  case class Employed(job: String) extends Occupation
  object Employed {
    implicit val employedReader = deriveReader[Employed]
  case object Unemployed extends Occupation {
    implicit val unemployedReader = deriveReader[Unemployed.type]
  case object Student extends Occupation {
    implicit val studentReader = deriveReader[Student.type]
  implicit val occupationReader = deriveReader[Occupation]

case class WorkingPerson(name: String, surname: String, occupation: Occupation)

object WorkingPerson {
  implicit val workingPersonReader = deriveReader[WorkingPerson]
ConfigSource.string("{ name: Isaac, surname: Newton, occupation.type: student }").load[WorkingPerson]
// res3: ConfigReader.Result[WorkingPerson] = Right(
//   WorkingPerson("Isaac", "Newton", Student)
// )
ConfigSource.string("""{ name: David, surname: Shingy, occupation: { type: employed, job: Digital Prophet } }""").load[WorkingPerson]
// res4: ConfigReader.Result[WorkingPerson] = Right(
//   WorkingPerson("David", "Shingy", Employed("Digital Prophet"))
// )


When case class and sealed trait derivation is not needed or wanted, we can simply not import anything and define our reader using any of ways explained in Supporting New Types. The forProductN helper methods are convenient for creating readers and writers for case class-like types without generic derivation:

import pureconfig._

implicit val personReader = ConfigReader.forProduct2("name", "surname")(Person(_, _))
// res6: ConfigReader.Result[Person] = Right(Person("John", "Doe"))

If you don’t need reader or writer derivation anywhere in your project, you can replace the pureconfig Maven dependency with pureconfig-core. pureconfig-core contains only the core classes needed by PureConfig, as well as readers and writers for primitive and collection types. It has the advantage of not depending on shapeless, which can be useful to prevent version conflicts.