ScalaCheck is a tool for testing Scala and Java programs, based on property specifications and
automatic test data generation. The basic idea is that you define a property that specifies the
behaviour of a method or some unit of code, and ScalaCheck checks that the property holds.
All test data are generated automatically in a random fashion, so you don't have to worry about
any missed cases.

In this tutorial, we explain the basics of ScalaCheck, how it works and several interesting
use-cases. You can learn more about it at



We first do the following preparatory steps.

  1. Create a new Scala project in Eclipse.
  2. Create a folder lib.
  3. Copy the ScalaCheck 1.10.0 JAR file into the lib folder.
  4. Go to Project -> Properties -> Java Build Path -> Add JARs and select the ScalaCheck JAR from the lib folder.
  5. Create a source folder src/test/scala.
  6. Create a new package pp.scalacheck in the source folder above.
  7. Create a new file StringSpecification.scala in the package above.

Alternatively, you can download the entire project from:

Testing Strings

We will now write a few ScalaCheck tests that test certain String properties.
We import the contents of the ScalaCheck package and its forAll statement:

package pp.scalacheck

import org.scalacheck._
import Prop.forAll

Next, we define an object StringSpecification which will contain multiple properties
of Strings. The first such property will test that the concatenation of two strings
x and y always starts with the string x.

object StringSpecification extends Properties("String") {

  property("startsWith") = forAll { (x: String, y: String) =>
    (x + y).startsWith(x)

  // ... more properties will follow ...


We defined the property named "startsWith" saying that
it must be true that for all Strings x and y their concatenation is
starts with x.

Each Properties object is a complete application in ScalaCheck - it has a main
method defined, which simply tests all the properties.
This means that we can run it in Eclipse, so lets do exactly that.
We click Run -> Run As -> Scala Application to obtain the following output:

+ String.startsWith: OK, passed 100 tests.

We get an output saying that ScalaCheck generated 100 different Strings
and that our property was true for all of them.

Lets write another property. This one states that the length of then concatenation of
two Strings is always longer than one of those Strings.

property("concatenation length") = forAll { (x: String, y: String) =>
  x.length < (x + y).length

Running the test suite again we get:

! String.concatenation length: Falsified after 0 passed tests.
> ARG_0: ""
> ARG_1: ""

Ooops! ScalaCheck is telling us that this seemingly simple property of Strings
isn't true at all. In fact, it even produces a small counterexample -- what if we
have 2 empty Strings? In that case our property does not hold.
Let lets fix it to state that the concatenation is longer or equal to one of the
two Strings:

property("concatenation length") = forAll { (x: String, y: String) =>
  x.length <= (x + y).length

Running the tests now yields:

+ String.startsWith: OK, passed 100 tests.
+ String.concatenation length: OK, passed 100 tests.

You can try writing a couple of your own properties.

Testing Collections

Automatic generation of input data is particularly useful for testing collections,
so lets write a couple of collection properties.

We create a new file in pp.scalacheck called ListSpecification.scala and write
the following property saying that reversing a list twice gives back the original

object ListSpecification extends Properties("List") {

  property("double reverse") = forAll { (lst: List[Int]) =>
    lst.reverse.reverse == lst


ScalaCheck is smart enough to know how the generate arbitrary lists of
integers for us. Running the tests yields:

+ List.double reverse: OK, passed 100 tests.

Lets write another property involving lists, stating that reversing two lists
and zipping them is the same as first zipping them and then reversing the
resulting list of pairs (for example, for 1 :: 2 :: Nil and 2 :: 4 :: Nil
we get (2, 4) :: (1, 2) :: Nil).

property("zip reverse") = forAll { (a: List[Int], b: List[Int]) =>
  (a.reverse zip b.reverse) == (a zip b).reverse

It's not apparent at first sight that this property does not always hold:

! reverse: Falsified after 3 passed tests.
> ARG_0: List("0")
> ARG_1: List("-1", "0")

In fact, the property always fails when the lists don't have the same length.
We can fix the property by ensuring that both lists do have the same length:

property("zip reverse") = forAll { (a: List[Int], b: List[Int]) =>
  val a1 = a.take(b.length)
  val b1 = b.take(a.length)
  (a1.reverse zip b1.reverse) == (a1 zip b1).reverse

ScalaCheck can test the properties of other collections as well. For example,
the following property of Maps says that after you add a key-value pair to
any Map, the size of the resulting map will increase:

property("+ and size") = forAll { (m: Map[Int, Int], key: Int, value: Int) =>
  (m + (key -> value)).size == (m.size + 1)

Try to find a counterexample. Then use ScalaCheck to find check if your
counterexample is similar.

Testing Custom Datatypes

We've seen so far that ScalaCheck is pretty smart in practice with generating the
right data that can lead to counterexamples.
However, ScalaCheck cannot by default generate input data for datatypes it does not
know about.
For example, lets define a custom datatype called Vector which describes two-dimensional
mathematical vectors. We also define 2 operations -- scalar multiplication and vector length.

case class Vector(x: Int, y: Int) {
  def *(s: Int) = Vector(x * s, y * s)
  def length: Double = math.sqrt(x * x + y * y)

Lets try to write a property involving this vector, for example, one that says that
if we multiply a vector with a scalar larger than 1.0, its length will increase.
Otherwise, its length will decrease.

property("* and length") = forAll { (v: Vector, s: Int) =>
  if (s >= 1.0) (v * s).length >= v.length
  else (v * s).length < v.length

The snippet above does not compile -- instead it produces some strange error message
about not finding an implicit value:

- could not find implicit value for parameter a1: 

What the compiler is trying to tell us here is that the ScalaCheck library knows nothing
about our user-defined Vector datatype, so it can't generate input examples for it.

This is where ScalaCheck generators come into play.
A generator (Gen) is an object which describes how input data is generated for
a certain type.
ScalaCheck comes with a range of predefined generators for basic datatypes.
For example, the generator Arbitrary.arbitrary[Double] generates arbitrary real numbers:

val doubles = Arbitrary.arbitrary[Double]

The generator Gen.oneOf generates the specified values, in the example below true or false:

val booleans = Gen.oneOf(true, false)

Another predefined generator Gen.choose picks integer numbers within a given range:

val twodigits = Gen.choose(-100, 100)

How to use a generator in a property? We simply have to specify it after the forAll:

property("sqrt") = forAll(ints) { d =>
  math.sqrt(d * d) == d

Btw, the above property is not always true. Try to figure out a counterexample.

Finally, several basic generators can be combined into more complex generators,
and this is a recommended strategy to obtain generators for more custom datatypes.
This is done using for-comprehensions which you already saw on collections:

val vectors: Gen[Vector] =
  for {
    x <- Gen.choose(-100, 100)
    y <- Gen.choose(-100, 100)
  } yield Vector(x, y)

The above should be read as -- we define a generators called vectors which generates
Vectors as follows: use a generator choose to generate a value x in the range from
-100 to 100, and another generator choose to generate a value y in the same range,
then use these values to create Vector(x, y).

This (intuitive) for-comprehension is translated into a chain of (unintuitive) map/flatMap
calls. Try to figure out what the desugared expression looks like!

Now that we have the generator for vectors, we can use it:

property("* and length") = forAll(vectors, ints) { (v: Vector, s: Int) =>
  if (s >= 1.0) (v * s).length >= v.length
  else (v * s).length < v.length

Alas, our property still fails because s might be negative. Fix it to use only
positive scalars!

We conclude this short tutorial by showing how you can write an even more complex
generator. Lets create a custom datatype for binary trees of integers:

trait Tree
case class Node(left: Tree, right: Tree) extends Tree
case class Leaf(x: Int) extends Tree

val ints = Gen.choose(-100, 100)

def leafs: Gen[Leaf] = for {
  x <- ints
} yield Leaf(x)

def nodes: Gen[Node] = for {
  left <- trees
  right <- trees
} yield Node(left, right)

def trees: Gen[Tree] = Gen.oneOf(leafs, nodes)

Just like the tree datatype, its generator consists of several cases and is mutually recursive.
Try to figure out how it works.

Then define a method depth on Trees which returns the depth of the tree.
Write a ScalaCheck test to verify if for any two trees x and y, the tree
Node(x, y) is deeper than both x and y.