Maven Scopes

Hello. In this tutorial, we will talk about maven and maven scopes.

1. What is a maven?

Maven is a build automation tool used primarily for Java projects. It helps developers manage and organize dependencies, build and test their code, and package it into a distributable format, such as a JAR file. Maven uses a project object model (POM) file to define the project structure, build process, and dependencies. The POM file includes information such as the project’s name, version, dependencies, and build instructions. Maven uses this information to automatically download and manage the required dependencies, compile the source code, run tests, and package the application. Maven is widely used in the Java development community and is considered one of the most popular build tools available.

1.1 Advantages

  • Dependency Management: Maven’s primary advantage is its excellent dependency management. It automatically manages dependencies and downloads the necessary libraries from a central repository.
  • Build Automation: Maven simplifies the build process by automating it. Developers only need to provide build instructions in the POM file, and Maven handles the rest.
  • Consistent Build Environment: Maven provides a consistent build environment across different machines and operating systems. This ensures that the build process is repeatable and predictable.
  • Extensibility: Maven is highly extensible through plugins. Developers can create custom plugins to add functionality to the build process.
  • Community Support: Maven has a large and active community that provides support and shares knowledge through forums, blogs, and documentation.

1.2 Disadvantages

  • Steep Learning Curve: Maven has a steep learning curve, especially for developers who are new to the tool. The POM file can be complex and overwhelming, and it may take some time to understand the various configurations and settings.
  • Limited Flexibility: Maven’s opinionated approach can be limiting in some cases. Developers may find it difficult to customize the build process beyond what is provided by the tool.
  • Slow Build Times: Maven’s dependency resolution and build process can be slow, especially for large projects with many dependencies.

2. What is the maven dependency tree

The Maven dependency tree shows all the direct and transitive dependencies that a project has. Direct dependencies are those that the project directly depends on, while transitive dependencies are those that are pulled in as a result of the direct dependencies. The tree structure helps to visualize the hierarchy of dependencies and understand which versions of the dependencies are being used. To generate a Maven dependency tree, you can use the following command in the terminal:

Sample command

mvn dependency:tree

This will generate a tree structure of all the dependencies, including their group IDs, artifact IDs, and versions. The output can be quite lengthy, but it can be useful for troubleshooting dependency conflicts or understanding the overall structure of a project’s dependencies.

Example response of maven dependency tree command

[INFO] [dependency:tree]
[INFO] org.apache.maven.plugins:maven-dependency-plugin:maven-plugin:2.0-alpha-5-SNAPSHOT
[INFO] \- org.apache.maven.doxia:doxia-site-renderer:jar:1.0-alpha-8:compile
[INFO]    \- org.codehaus.plexus:plexus-velocity:jar:1.1.3:compile
[INFO]       \- velocity:velocity:jar:1.4:compile

2.1 What are Direct and Transitive dependencies

In Maven, dependencies can be either direct or transitive.

A direct dependency is a dependency that is explicitly defined in the project’s pom.xml file. For example, if your project depends on a library called foo, you would include the following dependency declaration in your pom.xml:

Example of direct dependency


A transitive dependency is a dependency that is not explicitly defined in the project’s pom.xml file but is instead pulled in as a result of a direct dependency. For example, if the foo library itself depends on a library called bar, maven will automatically download and include bar as a transitive dependency of your project. In this case, bar is a transitive dependency of your project.

Transitive dependencies can be helpful, as they allow you to avoid having to explicitly define all of your project’s dependencies. However, they can also cause problems if different direct dependencies have conflicting versions of the same transitive dependency. In these cases, you may need to manually exclude a transitive dependency or explicitly define a version to use.

3. What is maven scope

In Maven, a scope is used to specify the visibility and accessibility of a dependency in different phases of the build process. Each dependency in a project’s pom.xml file can have a scope attribute that defines when and where the dependency is available.

3.1 Types

Here are the different scopes that can be used in Maven:

  • compile – This is the default scope. Dependencies with this scope are available at compile time, runtime, and test time.
  • provided – Dependencies with this scope are provided by the JDK or the runtime environment. They are not included in the package, as they are expected to be present on the target system.
  • runtime – Dependencies with this scope are needed at runtime, but not at compile time.
  • test – Dependencies with this scope are only needed for testing purposes and are not included in the final package.
  • system – Dependencies with this scope are similar to provided scope, but you have to provide the path to the JAR file explicitly. This is not recommended, as it makes the build less portable.
  • import – This scope is only used in dependency management. It allows you to import dependencies from other projects, and to re-declare them with a different version or scope.

By specifying the appropriate scope for each dependency in your project, you can control how the dependencies are included in the build process, which can help to reduce the size of the final package and improve the performance of your application. That concludes this tutorial, and I hope that it provided you with the information you were seeking. Enjoy your learning journey, and don’t forget to share!

4. Summary

In conclusion, Maven scopes play a crucial role in defining the dependencies for a project and managing the classpath during compilation and runtime. By specifying the appropriate scope for each dependency, developers can ensure that their project has access to the necessary libraries without introducing unnecessary dependencies or conflicts. Maven scopes are also useful for creating modular and efficient projects, as they allow developers to control the visibility and accessibility of dependencies based on the context in which they are used. For example, a dependency that is only required for testing can be marked as a test scope, ensuring that it is not included in the production code and reducing the size of the final application.

Overall, understanding and effectively using Maven scopes is an essential skill for any Java developer using Maven, as it can significantly improve the reliability, performance, and maintainability of their projects.


An experience full-stack engineer well versed with Core Java, Spring/Springboot, MVC, Security, AOP, Frontend (Angular & React), and cloud technologies (such as AWS, GCP, Jenkins, Docker, K8).
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