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§Coordinated Shutdown

Play incorporates the use of Akka’s Coordinated Shutdown but still didn’t rely on it completely. While Coordinated Shutdown is responsible for the complete shutdown of Play, there is still the ApplicationLifecycle API, and it is Play’s responsibility to exit the JVM.

In production, the trigger to invoke the clean shutdown could be a SIGTERM or, if your Play process is part of an Akka Cluster, a Downing event.

Note: If you are using Play embedded or if you manually handle Application’s and Server’s on your tests, the migration to Coordinated Shutdown inside Play can affect your shutdown process since using Coordinated Shutdown introduces small changes on the dependent lifecycles of the Application and the Server:
1. Invoking Server#stop MUST stop the Server and MUST also stop the Application running on that Server
2. Invoking Application#stop MUST stop the Application and MAY also stop the Server where the application is running.

§How does it compare to ApplicationLifecycle?

Coordinated Shutdown offers several phases where you may register tasks as opposed to ApplicationLifecycle only offering a single way to register stop hooks. The traditional ApplicationLifecycle stop hooks were a sequence of operations Play would decide the order they were run on. Coordinated Shutdown uses a collection of phases organised in a directed acyclic graph (DAG) where all tasks in a single phase run in parallel. This means that if you moved your cleanup code from ApplicationLifecycle to Coordinated Shutdown you will now have to also specify on what phase should the code run. You could use Coordinated Shutdown over ApplicationLifecycle if you want fine-grained control over the order in which seemingly unrelated parts of the application should shutdown. For example, if you wanted to signal over the open websockets that the application is going down, you can register a task on the phase named before-service-unbind and make that task push a signal message to the websocket clients. before-service-unbind is granted to happen before service-unbind which is the phase in which, you guessed it, the server connections are unbound. Unbinding the connections will still allow in-flight requests to complete though.

Play’s DI exposes an instance of CoordinatedShutdown. If you want to migrate from ApplicationLifecycle to Coordinated Shutdown, wherever you requested an instance of ApplicationLifecycle to be injected you may now request an instance of CoordinatedShutdown.

A CoordinatedShutdown instance is bound to an ActorSystem instance. In those environments where the Server and the Application share the ActorSystem both Server and Application will be stopped when either one is stopped. You can find more details on the new section on Coordinated Shutdown on the Play manual or you can have a look at Akka’s reference docs on Coordinated Shutdown.

§Shutdown sequence

Coordinated Shutdown is released with a set of default phases organised as a directed acyclic graph (DAG). You can create new phases and overwrite the default values so existing phases depend on yours. Here’s a list of the most relevant phases shipped in Akka and used by Play by default:

  // few cluster-related phases only meant for internal use

The list above mentions the relevant phases in the order they’ll run by default. Follow the Akka docs to change this behavior.

Note the ApplicationLifecycle#stopHooks that you don’t migrate to Coordinated Shutdown tasks will still run in reverse order of creation and they will run inside CoordinatedShutdown during the service-stop phase. That is, Coordinated Shutdown considers all ApplicationLifecycle#stopHooks like a single task. Coordinated Shutdown gives you the flexibility of running a shutdown task on a different phase. Your current code using ApplicationLifecycle#stopHooks should be fine but consider reviewing how and when it’s invoked. If, for example, you have an actor which periodically does some database operation then the actor needs a database connection. Depending on how the two are created it’s possible your database connection pool is closed in an ApplicationLifecycle#stopHook which happens in the service-stop phase but your actor might now be closed on the actor-system-terminate phase which happens later.

Continue using ApplicationLifecycle#stopHooks if running your cleanup code in the service-stop phase is coherent with your usage.

To opt-in to using Coordinated Shutdown tasks you need to inject a CoordinatedShutdown instance and use addTask as the example below:

class ResourceAllocatingScalaClass @Inject() (cs: CoordinatedShutdown) {
  // Some resource allocation happens here: A connection
  // pool is created, some client library is started, ...
  val resources = Resources.allocate()

  // Register a shutdown task as soon as possible.
  cs.addTask(CoordinatedShutdown.PhaseServiceUnbind, "free-some-resource") { () =>

  // ... some more code
public class ResourceAllocatingJavaClass {

  private final Resources resources;

  public ResourceAllocatingJavaClass(CoordinatedShutdown cs) {

    // Some resource allocation happens here: A connection
    // pool is created, some client library is started, ...
    resources = Resources.allocate();

    // Register a shutdown task as soon as possible.
        CoordinatedShutdown.PhaseServiceUnbind(), "free-some-resource", () -> resources.release());

  // ... some more code

§Shutdown triggers

A Play process is usually terminated via a SIGTERM signal. When the Play process receives the signal, a JVM shutdown hook is run causing the server to stop via invoking Coordinated Shutdown.

Other possible triggers differ from SIGTERM slightly. While SIGTERM is handled in an outside-in fashion, you may trigger a shutdown from your code (or a library may detect a cause to trigger the shutdown). For example when running your Play process as part of an Akka Cluster or adding an endpoint on your API that would allow an admin or an orchestrator to trigger a programmatic shutdown. In these scenarios the shutdown is inside out: all the phases of the Coordinated Shutdown list run in the appropriate order, but the Actor System will terminate before the JVM shutdown hook runs.

When developing your Play application, you should consider all the termination triggers and what steps and in which order they will run.


Akka Coordinated Shutdown ships with some settings making it very configurable. Despite that, using Akka Coordinated Shutdown within Play lifecycle makes some of these settings invalid. One such setting is akka.coordinated-shutdown.exit-jvm. Enabling akka.coordinated-shutdown.exit-jvm in a Play project will cause a deadlock at shutdown preventing your process to ever complete. In general, the default values tuning Akka Coordinated Shutdown should be fine in all Production, Development and Test modes.

§Gracefully shutdown the server

When using Akka HTTP server backend, the server shutdown happens gracefully, and it follows the steps described in Akka HTTP documentation. To summarize:

  1. First, the server port is unbound and no new connections will be accepted
  2. If a request is “in-flight” (being handled by user code), it is given hard deadline time to complete. For Akka HTTP, it is possible to configure the deadline using play.server.akka.terminationTimeout (see Akka HTTP Settings for more details).
  3. If a connection has no “in-flight” request, it is terminated immediately
  4. If user code emits a response within the timeout, then this response is sent to the client with a Connection: close header and connection is closed.
  5. If it is a streaming response, it is also mandated that it shall complete within the deadline, and if it does not, the connection will be terminated regardless of status of the streaming response.
  6. If user code does not reply with a response within the deadline, an automatic response is sent with a status configured by akka.http.server.termination-deadline-exceeded-response. The value must be a valid HTTP status code.

Next: Integrating with Akka Typed & Cluster Sharding