§Akka HTTP Server Backend

Play uses the Akka HTTP server backend to implement HTTP requests and responses using Akka Streams over the network. Akka HTTP implements a full server stack for HTTP, including full HTTPS support, and has support for HTTP/2.

§Akka HTTP Implementation

Play’s server backend uses the low level server API to handle Akka’s HttpRequest and HttpResponse classes.

Play’s server backend automatically converts of an Akka HttpRequest into a Play HTTP request, so that details of the implementation are under the hood. Play handles all the routing and application logic surrounding the server backend, while still providing the power and reliability of Akka-HTTP for processing requests.

§Working with Blocking APIs

Like the rest of Play, Akka HTTP is non-blocking. This means that it uses a small number of threads which it keeps loaded with work at all times.

This poses a problem when working with blocking APIs such as JDBC or HTTPURLConnection, which cause a thread to wait until data has been returned from a remote system.

Please configure any work with blocking APIs off the main rendering thread, using a Future or CompletionStage configured with a CustomExecutionContext and using a custom thread pool defined in ThreadPools. See JavaAsync and ScalaAsync for more details.

§Configuring Akka HTTP

You can configure the Akka HTTP server settings through application.conf. That also describes how to enable the HTTP/2 support.

§HTTP/2 support (experimental)

Play’s Akka HTTP server also supports HTTP/2. This feature is labeled “experimental” because the API may change in the future, and it has not been thoroughly tested in the wild. However, if you’d like to help Play improve please do test out HTTP/2 support and give us feedback about your experience.

You also should Configure HTTPS on your server before enabling HTTP/2. In general, browsers require TLS to work with HTTP/2, and Play’s Akka HTTP server uses ALPN (a TLS extension) to negotiate the protocol with clients that support it.

To add support for HTTP/2, add the PlayAkkaHttp2Support plugin. You can do this in an enablePlugins call for your project in build.sbt, for example:

lazy val root = (project in file("."))
  .enablePlugins(PlayScala, PlayAkkaHttp2Support)

Adding the plugin will do multiple things:

§Using HTTP/2 in run mode

If you need to use HTTP/2 in dev mode, you need to add a -javaagent argument for the Jetty ALPN agent to the Java options used to execute SBT

export SBT_OPTS="$SBT_OPTS -javaagent:$AGENT"

where $AGENT is the path to your Java agent. If you’ve already run sbt stage, you can find the path to the agent in your target directory:

export AGENT=$(pwd)/$(find target -name 'jetty-alpn-agent-*.jar' | head -1)

You also may want to write a simple script to run your app with the needed options, as demonstrated the ./play script in the play-scala-tls-example

Next: Play with Netty Server

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