# Http Adapters

Once you have an interpreter able to execute GraphQL queries, you usually want to expose it using an HTTP API. Caliban comes with a few "ready-to-use" components (called "adapters") to expose your API with the most popular HTTP libraries.


Starting with v2.4.3, Caliban provides the opinionated QuickAdapter that favours ease-of-use and performance at the expense of customizability.

If you want the best possible performance, make sure to check it out!

# Built-in tapir adapters

Under the hood, adapters use the tapir (opens new window) library, so you can easily create a custom adapter with anything that tapir supports.

The following adapters are provided:

  • Http4sAdapter exposes a route for http4s.
  • PlayHttpAdapter exposes a route for play.
  • AkkaHttpAdapter exposes a route for akka.
  • PekkoHttpAdapter exposes a route for pekko.

To use them, you first need to transform your GraphQLInterpreter obtained from api.interpreter into a new type of interpreter that supports the protocol you want to use. There are 3 of them:

These interpreters expose 2 powerful methods:

  • configure takes a Configurator[R] which is an alias for URIO[R & Scope, Unit]. It allows configuring the interpreter by running an effect that will run for each request and that can modify the configuration of the running fiber. Built-in configurators such as Configurator.setSkipValidation, Configurator.setEnableIntrospection and Configurator.setQueryExecution let you dynamically change the configuration of the interpreter.
  • intercept takes an Interceptor[-R1, +R] which is an alias for ZLayer[R1 & ServerRequest, TapirResponse, R]. It is basically a more powerful version of configure that gives you access to the incoming request (ServerRequest) and lets you modify the environment of the interpreter (from R to R1). A typical use case would be to extract an authentication token from the request and eliminate the authentication requirement from the environment if the token is valid. See an example here (opens new window).

In addition to that, the WebSocketInterpreter constructor comes with 2 optional parameters:

  • keepAliveInterval (default: empty) defines the interval for the server to send keep alive messages to the client
  • webSocketHooks (default: empty) gives you some hooks around the WebSocket lifecycle (useful for authentication)

Once your interpreter is correctly configured, you can use one of these 3 functions exposed by each built-in adapter:

  • makeHttpService turns an HttpInterpreter into a route for the corresponding library
  • makeHttpUploadService turns an HttpUploadInterpreter into a route for the corresponding library
  • makeWebSocketService turns a WebSocketInterpreter into a route for the corresponding library
val graphQLInterpreter: GraphQLInterpreter[AuthToken, CalibanError] = ???
// turn our GraphQL interpreter into an HttpInterpreter
val noAuthInterpreter: HttpInterpreter[AuthToken, CalibanError] = HttpInterpreter(graphQLInterpreter)
// define authentication logic (from a ServerRequest, fail or build an AuthToken)
val auth: ZLayer[ServerRequest, TapirResponse, AuthToken] = ???
// pass our interceptor to eliminate the AuthToken requirement from the environment
val authInterpreter: HttpUploadInterpreter[Any, CalibanError] = httpInterpreter.intercept(auth)
// get our route for Akka Http
val route = AkkaHttpAdapter.default().makeHttpService(authInterpreter)

Want to use something else? Check make your own adapter section!

Make sure to check the examples to see the adapters in action.

# Json handling

Caliban comes with JSON encoders and decoders for the following libraries:

  • circe
  • jsoniter-scala (JDK 11+ only)
  • play-json
  • zio-json

Since v2.1.0, the adapters are not bound to a specific JSON handler and require the user to add the corresponding dependency in their project and import the implicits in scope when calling the makeHttpService / makeHttpUploadService / makeWebSocketService methods.

Let's say we want to use http4s as the server implementation with zio-json as the json handler. Defining the http4s route is as simple as:

val http4sRoute = {
  import sttp.tapir.json.zio._

That's it! http4sRoute is a valid http4s route ready to serve our API.

If you use another json library, you will need to create encoders and decoders for it (which is very simple, you can simply look at the existing ones). The full list of JSON libraries supported by Tapir can be found here (opens new window)

Known issues: jsoniter-scala

The makeHttpUploadService methods require an implicit of JsonCodec[Map[String,Seq[String]]] in scope. Jsoniter does not provide codecs for common types by default, which means the user needs to create one. To do so, add the jsoniter-scala-macros dependency to your project and create one as:

import sttp.tapir.json.jsoniter._
import com.github.plokhotnyuk.jsoniter_scala.core._
import com.github.plokhotnyuk.jsoniter_scala.macros._

val http4sRoute = {
  import sttp.tapir.json.jsoniter._
  implicit val codec: JsonValueCodec[Map[String, Seq[String]]] = JsonCodecMaker.make



To maximize performance, the jsoniter codec implementation is stack-recursive. To prevent stack overflow errors, it has a maximum depth limit of 512.

If your schema contains recursive types and want to use the jsoniter codecs, make sure to also limit the maximum query depth using the maxDepth wrapper.

# Make your own adapter

All existing adapters are actually using a common adapter under the hood, called TapirAdapter.

This adapter, available in the caliban-tapir dependency which has the same 3 methods makeHttpService, makeHttpUploadService and makeWebSocketService.

The main differences between these and the methods from the built-in adapters is that they return one or several tapir ServerEndpoint, which you can then pass to a tapir interpreter. The returned ServerEndpoint use RIO[R, *] as an effect type, but you can easily transform it to another effect type. A helper convertHttpEndpointToFuture allows converting the effect type to a scala Future (this is used in the Akka, Pekko, and Play interpreters).

# High-performance QuickAdapter

The QuickAdapter requires minimal setup and uses zio-http (opens new window) and jsoniter-scala (opens new window) without tapir in order to provide the best possible performance.

# Usage

In order to use it, just add the following to your build.sbt file (no other dependencies required!):

libraryDependencies += "com.github.ghostdogpr" %% "caliban-quick" % "2.6.0"

By adding import caliban.quick._, we expose a few convenient extension methods on our GraphQL api. For example, we can serve our GraphQL api with minimal setup via a single command:

import caliban._
import caliban.quick._

val api: GraphQL[Any] = ???

  port = 8080,
  apiPath = "/api/graphql",
  graphiqlPath = Some("/graphiql"),
  uploadPath = Some("/upload/graphql"), // optional, for enabling GraphQL uploads

Alternatively, you can also create a zio-http Handler and manually compose it into an app:

import caliban._
import caliban.quick._
import zio.http._

val api: GraphQL[Any] = ???

for {
    handlers  <- api.handlers
    // Alternatively, without imported syntax:
    handlers2 <- api.interpreter.map(QuickAdapter(_).handlers)
    // Creates a handler which serves the GraphiQL API from CDN
    graphiql = GraphiQLHandler.handler(apiPath = "/api/graphql", graphiqlPath = "/graphiql")
    app = Routes(
            Method.ANY / "api" / "graphql"     -> handlers.api,
            Method.GET / "graphiql"            -> graphiql,
            Method.POST / "upload" / "graphql" -> handlers.upload
            // Add more routes, apply middleware, etc.
    _ <- Server.serve(app).provide(Server.defaultWithPort(8080))
} yield ()

# Customization

The QuickAdapter exposes the following methods that allow you to customize the server or apply middleware to the routes:

  • configure which takes a Configurator[R] similar to the tapir-based adapters
  • handlers which returns a QuickHandlers[R] which contains individual handlers to manually construct routes. Note that this handler is only for the api routes. To construct the graphiql handler use caliban.GraphiQLHandler.handler.

For more info on customization and middleware, check out the adapter examples (opens new window)!