Data streaming using http4s and scalaz-stream

Http4s and scalaz-stream are good alternatives for akka-http and akka-stream. In this post, I show how easy it is to stream data over HTTP using them. Streaming allows to operate on heavy data without the necessity to store it in the memory. With http4s, it is just a few lines of code.

Reactive programming

Reactive programming is all about programming with asynchronous data streams. There are several libraries which do that in scala: akka-stream, scalaz-stream, play’s iteratees or RxScala. It allows developers to create, consume and manipulate streams of data. Streams are non-blocking and provide a control over thread and memory consumption.


According to the http4s docs it is a minimal, idiomatic Scala interface for HTTP and Scala’s answer to Ruby’s Rack, Python’s WSGI, Haskell’s WAI, and Java’s Servlets. An Http4s service transforms a Request into scalaz Task[Response]. It integrates with scalaz-streams and bodies of requests and responses are represented as streams of bytes. Http4s also provides an asynchronous HTTP client which works similar like the server.


I implemented a simple server and a client. The server allows to download and upload a file. The client downloads a file and immediately uploads it back to the server using streaming. The whole file is never stored in the memory.

import scalaz.concurrent.Task
import scodec.bits.ByteVector

trait Streaming {
  val bufferSize = 128

  def read(path: String): Process[Task, ByteVector] = Process
    .through(io.fileChunkR(path, bufferSize))

  def write(path: String, data: EntityBody) =
    (data to io.fileChunkW(path)).run

The Streaming trait has two functions. The read function is for reading a file and it creates a stream of bytes. The write function takes a body stream as argument and pipes it to a stream which writes bytes to a file.

import org.http4s._
import org.http4s.dsl._
import org.http4s.server._

object StreamingServer extends App with Streaming {
  val service = HttpService {
    case GET -> Root / "download" =>
    case req @ POST -> Root / "upload" =>
      write("uploaded", req.body).flatMap(_ => Created())

    .mountService(service, "/")

StreamingServer exposes two HTTP services: GET /download and POST /upload. The first one just reads the content of a file. The second one streams the body into a file. Both services use functions defined in the Streaming trait for that.

import org.http4s.dsl._
import org.http4s.client._

object StreamingClient extends App {
    .flatMap(response =>
      client.prepare(POST(uri("http://localhost:8080/upload"), response.body))

The client executes the download request and then streams the content into upload endpoint. Thanks to http4s this is trivial.

See data-streaming-example for source code and instructions how to build and run.


Http4s provides a nice DSL which integrates seamlessly with scalaz-concurrent and scalaz-stream. If you are looking for alternative http libraries, you should take a look at http4s.


Http4s examples Introduction to scalaz-stream Introduction to Reactive Programming

comments powered by Disqus