Lift Tutorial 1: Development Environment Setup

What this tutorial will cover

  • Lift (Scala)
  • SBT (Simple Build Tool)
  • Jetty (Web Server - using it out of sbt)
  • Eclipse (Editor)
  • IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition (Editor)

Operating System

I will write down instructions for Mac OS X. But for Windows or Linux the instructions might only differ slightly.

Create basic lift project with SBT (Simple Build Tool)

With SBT we will be managing our lift project. It helps us to do several tasks pretty easy. The easiest way to start with Lift and SBT is to download a sample SBT Lift project from . On that site click on “Downloads” on the right to download it as .tar.gz or .zip. Then choose one of the folders depending on what you want to do. You can choose lift_basic to see an example.

I prefer git and will handle my project with git so I do the following to download the default example:

git clone
cp -R lift_23_sbt/lift_basic/ myLiftProject
cd myLiftProject
git init

now add a .gitignore with the content as [here] and then do

git add .
git commit -m "first commit"

Run the basic project

Go into the folder myLiftProject and rund the following commands. Some of them will take quite some time.

sbt update
sbt ~jetty-run 

~jetty-run will start jetty to run your project. Go to and you will see the web site up and running. If you change anything in the code it will automatically notice that and compile it. A few seconds later you see the change reflected on the site. Use CTRL+C to stop it from executing.

.war file

If you want to package your project as a .war to put it on your web server, run “sbt package”.

Working on the code

Well there are several ways to work on the lift (scala) code. You can use vim, eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA. I will quickly explain how to work with eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA community edition (both free tools)


import sbt._  
class MySbtProjectPlugins(info: ProjectInfo) extends PluginDefinition(info) {
      lazy val eclipse = "de.element34" % "sbt-eclipsify" % "0.7.0"
  • Edit project/build/LiftProject.scala and adjust it like this (add import line and “with Eclipsify”)
import sbt._  
class MySbtProjectPlugins(info: ProjectInfo) extends PluginDefinition(info) {
      lazy val eclipse = "de.element34" % "sbt-eclipsify" % "0.7.0"
  • Now run the following commands
sbt reload
sbt eclipse 

Done. Your project is now a valid eclipse project. Import it in eclipse.

IntelliJ IDEA (Community Edition)

Download and install the community edition here:
Settings -> Plugins -> Available : Search for scala and install
Create a IntelliJ IDEA project out of the sbt project (full info here):

  1. Go to
  2. Follow instructions below "Usage as processor"
  • to start sbt just enter sbt in the shell or command line window and press enter

Read as well on (specially the getting started) to learn more about Lift.

You can use RUN@cloud as a lift server. You can currently get a basic account for free! Register and upload your .war file there.

With the next tutorials I will try to cover how to set up a nicer server with jetty and mongodb and then deploying the war file. Hopefully we can automate that as much as possible.

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