Mark case classes as final

When declaring a case class, make it final.


Extending a case class will produce behaviours that, while perfectly correct, can be surprising and certainly break reasonable expectations.

For example:

case class Foo(i: Int)
class Bar(i: Int, s: String) extends Foo(i)

Bar will behave oddly when it comes to comparison, hashing and printing:

new Bar(1, "foo") == new Bar(1, "bar")
// res0: Boolean = true

  new Bar(1, "foo") -> "foo",
  new Bar(1, "bar") -> "bar"
// res1: Map[Bar, String] = Map(Foo(1) -> "bar")

new Bar(1, "baz")
// res2: Bar = Foo(1)

This is largely due to Scala’s reliance on Java constructs. In this instance:

Case classes will generate correct implementations of these methods - equals, for example, will run a field-for-field comparison. The problem is that this breaks when you extend a case class: the subclass will inherit these methods, which are not aware of any field you might have added.

In the case of our Bar example, the s field is ignored by equals, toString and hashCode, which leads to the surprising (but perfectly correct) behaviour we observed.

Exceptions to the rule

There’s at least one scenario I know of where a non-final case class is desirable: when you wish to declare a case class but have absolute control over the values of its fields.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to create a PositiveInt type wrapping an Int that is guaranteed to be positive. A naïve implementation would be:

final case class PositiveInt(value: Int)

object PositiveInt {
  def fromInt(i: Int): Option[PositiveInt] =
    if(i > 0) Some(new PositiveInt(i))
    else      None

The problem with this implementation is that you still have many ways to create values of type PositiveInt that containing a negative Int:

new PositiveInt(-1)
// res3: PositiveInt = PositiveInt(-1)

// res4: Option[PositiveInt] = Some(PositiveInt(-1))

In order to seal these holes, a common trick is to declare a sealed abstract case class:

sealed abstract case class PositiveInt(value: Int)

object PositiveInt {
  def fromInt(i: Int): Option[PositiveInt] =
    if(i > 0) Some(new PositiveInt(i) {})
    else      None

Since PositiveInt is abstract, the compiler can’t generate a constructor, a copy method or an apply method on the companion object and you effectively control the values that get inside it. But this requires it not to be final.

So, as is often the case, there are scenarios in which this rule must be broken. It’s a good default behaviour, to be changed when you must.

Checked by

  • FinalModifierOnCaseClass