Routing DSL Overview

The Akka HTTP Low-Level Server-Side API provides a Flow- or Function-level interface that allows an application to respond to incoming HTTP requests by simply mapping requests to responses (excerpt from Low-level server side example):

final Function<HttpRequest, HttpResponse> requestHandler =
  new Function<HttpRequest, HttpResponse>() {
    private final HttpResponse NOT_FOUND =
        .withEntity("Unknown resource!");

    public HttpResponse apply(HttpRequest request) throws Exception {
      Uri uri = request.getUri();
      if (request.method() == HttpMethods.GET) {
        if (uri.path().equals("/")) {
                "<html><body>Hello world!</body></html>");
        } else if (uri.path().equals("/hello")) {
          String name = uri.query().get("name").orElse("Mister X");

              .withEntity("Hello " + name + "!");
        } else if (uri.path().equals("/ping")) {
          return HttpResponse.create().withEntity("PONG!");
        } else {
          return NOT_FOUND;
      } else {
        return NOT_FOUND;

While it’d be perfectly possible to define a complete REST API service purely by inspecting the incoming HttpRequest this approach becomes somewhat unwieldy for larger services due to the amount of syntax “ceremony” required. Also, it doesn’t help in keeping your service definition as DRY as you might like.

As an alternative Akka HTTP provides a flexible DSL for expressing your service behavior as a structure of composable elements (called Directives) in a concise and readable way. Directives are assembled into a so called route structure which, at its top-level, can be used to create a handler Flow (or, alternatively, an async handler function) that can be directly supplied to a bind call.

Here’s the complete example rewritten using the composable high-level API:

import akka.NotUsed; import; import akka.http.javadsl.ConnectHttp; import akka.http.javadsl.Http; import akka.http.javadsl.ServerBinding; import akka.http.javadsl.model.ContentTypes; import akka.http.javadsl.model.HttpEntities; import akka.http.javadsl.model.HttpRequest; import akka.http.javadsl.model.HttpResponse; import akka.http.javadsl.server.AllDirectives; import akka.http.javadsl.server.Route; import; import; import; import java.util.concurrent.CompletionStage; public class HighLevelServerExample extends AllDirectives { public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException { // boot up server using the route as defined below ActorSystem system = ActorSystem.create(); final HighLevelServerExample app = new HighLevelServerExample(); final Http http = Http.get(system); final ActorMaterializer materializer = ActorMaterializer.create(system); final Flow<HttpRequest, HttpResponse, NotUsed> routeFlow = app.createRoute().flow(system, materializer); final CompletionStage<ServerBinding> binding = http.bindAndHandle(routeFlow, ConnectHttp.toHost("localhost", 8080), materializer); System.out.println("Type RETURN to exit");; binding .thenCompose(ServerBinding::unbind) .thenAccept(unbound -> system.terminate()); } public Route createRoute() { // This handler generates responses to `/hello?name=XXX` requests Route helloRoute = parameterOptional("name", optName -> { String name = optName.orElse("Mister X"); return complete("Hello " + name + "!"); }); return // here the complete behavior for this server is defined // only handle GET requests get(() -> route( // matches the empty path pathSingleSlash(() -> // return a constant string with a certain content type complete(HttpEntities.create(ContentTypes.TEXT_HTML_UTF8, "<html><body>Hello world!</body></html>")) ), path("ping", () -> // return a simple `text/plain` response complete("PONG!") ), path("hello", () -> // uses the route defined above helloRoute ) )); } }

The core of the Routing DSL becomes available with a single import:

import akka.http.javadsl.server.Directives.*;

Or by extending the akka.http.javadsl.server.AllDirectives class which brings together all directives into a single class for easier access:

extends AllDirectives

Of course it is possible to directly import only the directives you need (i.e. WebSocketDirectives etc).

The source code for this page can be found here.