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Although we strongly recommend generating optics using the DSL and @optics attribute, sometimes this is impossible. We provide the small utility package arrow-optics-reflect for those scenarios, which bridges Arrow Optics with Kotlin's reflection capabilities.

Kotlin provides a simple way to obtain a reference to a class member by using ClassName::memberName. For example, given the following class definition:

data class Person(val name: String, val friends: List<String>)

we can use Person::name and Person::friends to refer to each of the fields in the class. Those references are very similar to optics. arrow-optics-reflect provides extension methods that turn those references into optics. You can obtain a lens for the name field in Person by writing:


which you can later use as any other lens:

fun example() {
val p = Person("me", listOf("pat", "mat"))
val m = Person::name.lens.modify(p) { it.capitalize() } shouldBe "Me"

This only works on data classes with a public copy method (which is the default). Remember that, as opposed to a mutable variable, optics will always create a new copy when asking for modification.

Nullables and collections

Sometimes it's preferable to expose a field using a different optic:

  • When the field type is nullable, you can use optional to obtain an optional instead of a lens.
  • When the field type is a List or Map, you can use every and values to obtain a traversal to the elements.
fun example() {
val p = Person("me", listOf("pat", "mat"))
val m = Person::friends.every.modify(p) { it.capitalize() }
m.friends shouldBe listOf("Pat", "Mat")


A typical pattern in Kotlin programming is to define a sealed abstract class (or interface) with subclasses representing choices in a union.

sealed interface Cutlery
object Fork: Cutlery
object Spoon: Cutlery

We provide an instance method that creates a prism focused only on a specific subclass of a parent class. Both ends are essential and must be provided when creating the optic:

instance<Cutlery, Fork>()

You can compose this optic freely with others. Here's an example in which we obtain the number of forks in a list of cutlery using optics:

fun example() {
val things = listOf(Fork, Spoon, Fork)
val forks = Every.list<Cutlery>() compose instance<Cutlery, Fork>()
val noOfForks = forks.size(things)
noOfForks shouldBe 2