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§Intercepting HTTP requests

Play’s Java APIs provide two ways of intercepting action calls. The first is called ActionCreator, which provides a createAction method that is used to create the initial action used in action composition. It handles calling the actual method for your action, which allows you to intercept requests.

The second way is to implement your own HttpRequestHandler, which is the primary entry point for all HTTP requests in Play. This includes requests from both Java and Scala actions.

§Action creators

The ActionCreator interface has two methods that can be implemented:

There is also a DefaultActionCreator interface you can extend with default implementations.

Note: If you are implementing a custom ActionCreator because you need to apply a cross cutting concern to an action before it is executed, creating a filter is a more idiomatic way of achieving the same.

A custom action creator can be supplied by creating a class in the root package called ActionCreator that implements play.http.ActionCreator, for example:

import play.mvc.Action;
import play.mvc.Http;
import play.mvc.Result;
import java.util.concurrent.CompletionStage;

import java.lang.reflect.Method;

public class ActionCreator implements play.http.ActionCreator {
  public Action createAction(Http.Request request, Method actionMethod) {
    return new Action.Simple() {
      public CompletionStage<Result> call(Http.Request req) {

If you don’t want to place this class in the root package, or if you want to be able to configure different action handlers for different environments, you can do this by configuring the play.http.actionCreator configuration property in application.conf:

play.http.actionCreator = "com.example.MyActionCreator"

Note: If you are also using action composition then the action returned by the createAction method is executed after the action composition ones by default. If you want to change this order set play.http.actionComposition.executeActionCreatorActionFirst = true in application.conf.

§HTTP request handlers

Sometimes an application will have more advanced needs that aren’t met by Play’s abstractions. When this is the case, applications can provide custom implementations of Play’s lowest level HTTP pipeline API, the HttpRequestHandler.

Providing a custom HttpRequestHandler should be a last course of action. Most custom needs can be met through implementing a custom router or a filter.

§Implementing a custom request handler

The HttpRequestHandler interface has one method to be implemented, handlerForRequest. This takes the request to get a handler for, and returns a HandlerForRequest instance containing a RequestHeader and a Handler.

The reason why a request header is returned is so that information, such as routing information, can be added to the request. In this way, the router is able to tag requests with routing information, such as which route matched the request, which can be useful for monitoring or even for injecting cross cutting functionality.

A very simple request handler that simply delegates to a router might look like this:

import javax.inject.Inject;

import play.routing.Router;
import play.api.mvc.Handler;
import play.http.*;
import play.mvc.*;
import play.libs.streams.Accumulator;
import play.core.j.JavaHandler;
import play.core.j.JavaHandlerComponents;

public class SimpleHttpRequestHandler implements HttpRequestHandler {
  private final Router router;
  private final JavaHandlerComponents handlerComponents;

  public SimpleHttpRequestHandler(Router router, JavaHandlerComponents components) {
    this.router = router;
    this.handlerComponents = components;

  public HandlerForRequest handlerForRequest(Http.RequestHeader request) {
    Handler handler =
            .orElseGet(() -> EssentialAction.of(req -> Accumulator.done(Results.notFound())));
    if (handler instanceof JavaHandler) {
      handler = ((JavaHandler) handler).withComponents(handlerComponents);
    return new HandlerForRequest(request, handler);

Note that we need to inject JavaHandlerComponents and call handler.withComponents for the Java handler. This is required for Java actions to work. This will also be handled for you automatically if you extend DefaultHttpRequestHandler and call super.handlerForRequest().

Note that HttpRequestHandler currently has two legacy methods with default implementations that have since been moved to ActionCreator.

§Configuring the http request handler

If you’re using BuiltInComponents to construct your app, override the httpRequestHandler method to return an instance of your custom handler.

If you’re using runtime dependency injection (e.g. Guice), the request handler can be dynamically loaded at runtime. The simplest way is to create a class in the root package called RequestHandler that implements HttpRequestHandler.

If you don’t want to place your request handler in the root package, or if you want to be able to configure different request handlers for different environments, you can do this by configuring the play.http.requestHandler configuration property in application.conf:

play.http.requestHandler = "com.example.RequestHandler"

Next: Asynchronous HTTP programming