Documentation

Action composition

This chapter introduces several ways to define generic action functionality.

Reminder about actions

Previously, we said that an action is a Java method that returns a play.mvc.Result value. Actually, Play manages internally actions as functions. Because Java doesn’t support first class functions, an action provided by the Java API is an instance of play.mvc.Action:

public abstract class Action {
    
  public abstract Result call(Http.Context ctx);    
    
}

Play builds a root action for you that just calls the proper action method. This allows for more complicated action composition.

Composing actions

You can compose the code provided by the action method with another play.mvc.Action, using the @With annotation:

@With(VerboseAction.class)
public static Result index() {
  return ok("It works!");
}

Here is the definition of the VerboseAction:

public class VerboseAction extends Action.Simple {

  public Result call(Http.Context ctx) throws Throwable {
    Logger.info("Calling action for " + ctx);
    return delegate.call(ctx);
  }
}

At one point you need to delegate to the wrapped action using delegate.call(...).

You also mix with several actions:

@With({Authenticated.class, Cached.class})
public static Result index() {
  return ok("It works!");
}

Note: play.mvc.Security.Authenticated and play.cache.Cached annotations and the corresponding predefined Actions are shipped with Play. See the relevant API documentation for more information.

Defining custom action annotations

You can also mark action composition with your own annotation, which must itself be annotated using @With:

@With(VerboseAction.class)
@Target({ElementType.TYPE, ElementType.METHOD})
@Retention(RetentionPolicy.RUNTIME)
public @interface Verbose {
   boolean value() default true;
}

You can then use your new annotation with an action method:

@Verbose(false)
public static Result index() {
  return ok("It works!");
}

Your Action definition retrieves the annotation as configuration:

public class VerboseAction extends Action<Verbose> {

  public Result call(Http.Context ctx) {
    if(configuration.value) {
      Logger.info("Calling action for " + ctx);  
    }
    return delegate.call(ctx);
  }
}

Annotating controllers

You can also put any action composition annotation directly on the Controller class. In this case it will be applied to all action methods defined by this controller.

@Authenticated
public Admin extends Controller {
    
  …
    
}

Next: Asynchronous HTTP programming