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Writing an Application

actix-web provides various primitives to build web servers and applications with Rust. It provides routing, middlewares, pre-processing of requests, post-processing of responses, websocket protocol handling, multipart streams, etc.

All actix web servers are built around the App instance. It is used for registering routes for resources and middlewares. It also stores application state shared across all handlers within same application.

Applications act as a namespace for all routes, i.e. all routes for a specific application have the same url path prefix. The application prefix always contains a leading "/" slash. If a supplied prefix does not contain leading slash, it is automatically inserted. The prefix should consist of value path segments.

For an application with prefix /app, any request with the paths /app, /app/, or /app/test would match; however, the path /application would not match.

{{< include-example example="application" section="make_app" >}}

In this example, an application with the /app prefix and a index.html resource are created. This resource is available through the /app/index.html url.

For more information, check the URL Dispatch section.

Multiple applications can be served with one server:

{{< include-example example="application" section="run_server" >}}

All /app1 requests route to the first application, /app2 to the second, and all other to the third. Applications get matched based on registration order. If an application with a more generic prefix is registered before a less generic one, it would effectively block the less generic application matching. For example, if an App with the prefix "/" was registered as the first application, it would match all incoming requests.


Application state is shared with all routes and resources within the same application. When using an http actor, state can be accessed with the HttpRequest::state() as read-only, but interior mutability with RefCell can be used to achieve state mutability. State is also available for route matching predicates and middlewares.

Let's write a simple application that uses shared state. We are going to store request count in the state:

{{< include-example example="application" file="" section="setup" >}}

When the app is initialized it needs to be passed the initial state:

{{< include-example example="application" file="" section="make_app" >}}

Note: http server accepts an application factory rather than an application instance. Http server constructs an application instance for each thread, thus application state must be constructed multiple times. If you want to share state between different threads, a shared object should be used, e.g. Arc. Application state does not need to be Send and Sync, but the application factory must be Send + Sync.

To start the previous app, create it into a closure:

{{< include-example example="application" file="" section="start_app" >}}

Combining applications with different state

Combining multiple applications with different state is possible as well.

server::new requires the handler to have a single type.

This limitation can easily be overcome with the App::boxed method, which converts an App into a boxed trait object.

{{< include-example example="application" file="" section="combine" >}}

Using an Application Prefix to Compose Applications

The App::prefix() method allows to set a specific application prefix. This prefix represents a resource prefix that will be prepended to all resource patterns added by the resource configuration. This can be used to help mount a set of routes at a different location than the included callable's author intended while still maintaining the same resource names.

For example:

{{< include-example example="url-dispatch" file="" section="prefix" >}}

In the above example, the show_users route will have an effective route pattern of /users/show instead of /show because the application's prefix argument will be prepended to the pattern. The route will then only match if the URL path is /users/show, and when the HttpRequest.url_for() function is called with the route name show_users, it will generate a URL with that same path.

Application predicates and virtual hosting

You can think of a predicate as a simple function that accepts a request object reference and returns true or false. Formally, a predicate is any object that implements the Predicate trait. Actix provides several predicates, you can check functions section of api docs.

Any of this predicates could be used with App::filter() method. One of the provided predicates is Host, it can be used as application's filter based on request's host information.

{{< include-example example="application" file="" section="vh" >}}