Guide

The ins and outs of Rocket, in detail.

Requests#

Together, a route attribute and function signature specify what must be true about a request in order for the route's handler to be called. You've already seen an example of this in action:

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#[get("/world")]
fn handler() { .. }

This route indicates that it only matches against GET requests to the /world route. Rocket ensures that this is the case before handler is called. Of course, you can do much more than specify the method and path of a request. Among other things, you can ask Rocket to automatically validate:

The route attribute and function signature work in tandem to describe these validations. Rocket's code generation takes care of actually validating the properties. This section describes how to ask Rocket to validate against all of these properties and more.

Methods#

A Rocket route attribute can be any one of get, put, post, delete, head, patch, or options, each corresponding to the HTTP method to match against. For example, the following attribute will match against POST requests to the root path:

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#[post("/")]

The grammar for these attributes is defined formally in the rocket_codegen API docs.

HEAD Requests#

Rocket handles HEAD requests automatically when there exists a GET route that would otherwise match. It does this by stripping the body from the response, if there is one. You can also specialize the handling of a HEAD request by declaring a route for it; Rocket won't interfere with HEAD requests your application explicitly handles.

Reinterpreting#

Because browsers can only send GET and POST requests, Rocket reinterprets request methods under certain conditions. If a POST request contains a body of Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded and the form's first field has the name _method and a valid HTTP method name as its value (such as "PUT"), that field's value is used as the method for the incoming request. This allows Rocket applications to submit non-POST forms. The todo example makes use of this feature to submit PUT and DELETE requests from a web form.

Dynamic Paths#

You can declare path segments as dynamic by using angle brackets around variable names in a route's path. For example, if we want to say Hello! to anything, not just the world, we can declare a route like so:

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#[get("/hello/<name>")]
fn hello(name: &RawStr) -> String {
    format!("Hello, {}!", name.as_str())
}

If we were to mount the path at the root (.mount("/", routes![hello])), then any request to a path with two non-empty segments, where the first segment is hello, will be dispatched to the hello route. For example, if we were to visit /hello/John, the application would respond with Hello, John!.

Any number of dynamic path segments are allowed. A path segment can be of any type, including your own, as long as the type implements the FromParam trait. We call these types parameter guards. Rocket implements FromParam for many of the standard library types, as well as a few special Rocket types. For the full list of provided implementations, see the FromParam API docs. Here's a more complete route to illustrate varied usage:

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#[get("/hello/<name>/<age>/<cool>")]
fn hello(name: String, age: u8, cool: bool) -> String {
    if cool {
        format!("You're a cool {} year old, {}!", age, name)
    } else {
        format!("{}, we need to talk about your coolness.", name)
    }
}
Note: Rocket types raw strings separately from decoded strings.

You may have noticed an unfamiliar RawStr type in the code example above. This is a special type, provided by Rocket, that represents an unsanitized, unvalidated, and undecoded raw string from an HTTP message. It exists to separate validated string inputs, represented by types such as String, &str, and Cow<str>, from unvalidated inputs, represented by &RawStr. It also provides helpful methods to convert the unvalidated string into a validated one.

Because &RawStr implements FromParam, it can be used as the type of a dynamic segment, as in the example above, where the value refers to a potentially undecoded string. By contrast, a String is guaranteed to be decoded. Which you should use depends on whether you want direct but potentially unsafe access to the string (&RawStr), or safe access to the string at the cost of an allocation (String).

Multiple Segments#

You can also match against multiple segments by using <param..> in a route path. The type of such parameters, known as segments guards, must implement FromSegments. A segments guard must be the final component of a path: any text after a segments guard will result in a compile-time error.

As an example, the following route matches against all paths that begin with /page/:

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use std::path::PathBuf;

#[get("/page/<path..>")]
fn get_page(path: PathBuf) -> T { ... }

The path after /page/ will be available in the path parameter. The FromSegments implementation for PathBuf ensures that path cannot lead to path traversal attacks. With this, a safe and secure static file server can be implemented in 4 lines:

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#[get("/<file..>")]
fn files(file: PathBuf) -> Option<NamedFile> {
    NamedFile::open(Path::new("static/").join(file)).ok()
}
Tip: Rocket makes it even easier to serve static files!

If you need to serve static files from your Rocket application, consider using the StaticFiles custom handler from rocket_contrib, which makes it as simple as:

rocket.mount("/public", StaticFiles::from("/static")

Forwarding#

Let's take a closer look at the route attribute and signature pair from a previous example:

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#[get("/hello/<name>/<age>/<cool>")]
fn hello(name: String, age: u8, cool: bool) -> String { ... }

What if cool isn't a bool? Or, what if age isn't a u8? When a parameter type mismatch occurs, Rocket forwards the request to the next matching route, if there is any. This continues until a route doesn't forward the request or there are no remaining routes to try. When there are no remaining routes, a customizable 404 error is returned.

Routes are attempted in increasing rank order. Rocket chooses a default ranking from -6 to -1, detailed in the next section, but a route's rank can also be manually set with the rank attribute. To illustrate, consider the following routes:

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#[get("/user/<id>")]
fn user(id: usize) -> T { ... }

#[get("/user/<id>", rank = 2)]
fn user_int(id: isize) -> T { ... }

#[get("/user/<id>", rank = 3)]
fn user_str(id: &RawStr) -> T { ... }

Notice the rank parameters in user_int and user_str. If we run this application with the routes mounted at the root, requests to /user/<id> will be routed as follows:

  1. The user route matches first. If the string at the <id> position is an unsigned integer, then the user handler is called. If it is not, then the request is forwarded to the next matching route: user_int.

  2. The user_int route matches next. If <id> is a signed integer, user_int is called. Otherwise, the request is forwarded.

  3. The user_str route matches last. Since <id> is a always string, the route always matches. The user_str handler is called.

Forwards can be caught by using a Result or Option type. For example, if the type of id in the user function was Result<usize, &RawStr>, then user would never forward. An Ok variant would indicate that <id> was a valid usize, while an Err would indicate that <id> was not a usize. The Err's value would contain the string that failed to parse as a usize.

Tip: It's not just forwards that can be caught!

In general, when any guard fails for any reason, including parameter guards, you can use an Option or Result type in its place to catch the failure.

By the way, if you were to omit the rank parameter in the user_str or user_int routes, Rocket would emit an error and abort launch, indicating that the routes collide, or can match against similar incoming requests. The rank parameter resolves this collision.

Default Ranking#

If a rank is not explicitly specified, Rocket assigns a default ranking. By default, routes with static paths and query strings have lower ranks (higher precedence) while routes with dynamic paths and without query strings have higher ranks (lower precedence). The table below describes the default ranking of a route given its properties.

static pathqueryrankexample
yespartly static-6/hello?world=true
yesfully dynamic-5/hello/?<world>
yesnone-4/hello
nopartly static-3/<hi>?world=true
nofully dynamic-2/<hi>?<world>
nonone-1/<hi>

Query Strings#

Query segments can be declared static or dynamic in much the same way as path segments:

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#[get("/hello?wave&<name>")]
fn hello(name: &RawStr) -> String {
    format!("Hello, {}!", name.as_str())
}

The hello route above matches any GET request to /hello that has at least one query key of name and a query segment of wave in any order, ignoring any extra query segments. The value of the name query parameter is used as the value of the name function argument. For instance, a request to /hello?wave&name=John would return Hello, John!. Other requests that would result in the same response include:

Any number of dynamic query segments are allowed. A query segment can be of any type, including your own, as long as the type implements the FromFormValue trait.

Multiple Segments#

As with paths, you can also match against multiple segments in a query by using <param..>. The type of such parameters, known as query guards, must implement the FromQuery trait. Query guards must be the final component of a query: any text after a query parameter will result in a compile-time error.

A query guard validates all otherwise unmatched (by static or dynamic query parameters) query segments. While you can implement FromQuery yourself, most use cases will be handled by using the Form or LenientForm query guard. The Forms section explains using these types in detail. In short, these types allow you to use a structure with named fields to automatically validate query/form parameters:

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use rocket::request::Form;

#[derive(FromForm)]
struct User {
    name: String,
    account: usize,
}

#[get("/item?<id>&<user..>")]
fn item(id: usize, user: Form<User>) { /* ... */ }

For a request to /item?id=100&name=sandal&account=400, the item route above sets id to 100 and user to User { name: "sandal", account: 400 }.

For more query handling examples, see the query_params example.

Request Guards#

Request guards are one of Rocket's most powerful instruments. As the name might imply, a request guard protects a handler from being called erroneously based on information contained in an incoming request. More specifically, a request guard is a type that represents an arbitrary validation policy. The validation policy is implemented through the FromRequest trait. Every type that implements FromRequest is a request guard.

Request guards appear as inputs to handlers. An arbitrary number of request guards can appear as arguments in a route handler. Rocket will automatically invoke the FromRequest implementation for request guards before calling the handler. Rocket only dispatches requests to a handler when all of its guards pass.

For instance, the following dummy handler makes use of three request guards, A, B, and C. An input can be identified as a request guard if it is not named in the route attribute.

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#[get("/<param>")]
fn index(param: isize, a: A, b: B, c: C) -> ... { ... }

Request guards always fire in left-to-right declaration order. In the example above, the order will be A followed by B followed by C. Failure is short-circuiting; if one guard fails, the remaining are not attempted. To learn more about request guards and implementing them, see the FromRequest documentation.

Custom Guards#

You can implement FromRequest for your own types. For instance, to protect a sensitive route from running unless an ApiKey is present in the request headers, you might create an ApiKey type that implements FromRequest and then use it as a request guard:

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#[get("/sensitive")]
fn sensitive(key: ApiKey) -> &'static str { ... }

You might also implement FromRequest for an AdminUser type that authenticates an administrator using incoming cookies. Then, any handler with an AdminUser or ApiKey type in its argument list is assured to only be invoked if the appropriate conditions are met. Request guards centralize policies, resulting in a simpler, safer, and more secure applications.

Guard Transparency#

When a request guard type can only be created through its FromRequest implementation, and the type is not Copy, the existence of a request guard value provides a type-level proof that the current request has been validated against an arbitrary policy. This provides powerful means of protecting your application against access-control violations by requiring data accessing methods to witness a proof of authorization via a request guard. We call the notion of using a request guard as a witness guard transparency.

As a concrete example, the following application has a function, health_records, that returns all of the health records in a database. Because health records are sensitive information, they should only be accessible by super users. The SuperUser request guard authenticates and authorizes a super user, and its FromRequest implementation is the only means by which a SuperUser can be constructed. By declaring the health_records function as follows, access control violations against health records are guaranteed to be prevented at compile-time:

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fn health_records(user: &SuperUser) -> Records { ... }

The reasoning is as follows:

  1. The health_records function requires an &SuperUser type.
  2. The only constructor for a SuperUser type is FromRequest.
  3. Only Rocket can provide an active &Request to construct via FromRequest.
  4. Thus, there must be a Request authorizing a SuperUser to call health_records.
Note

At the expense of a lifetime parameter in the guard type, guarantees can be made even stronger by tying the lifetime of the Request passed to FromRequest to the request guard, ensuring that the guard value always corresponds to an active request.

We recommend leveraging request guard transparency for all data accesses.

Forwarding Guards#

Request guards and forwarding are a powerful combination for enforcing policies. To illustrate, we consider how a simple authorization system might be implemented using these mechanisms.

We start with two request guards:

We now use these two guards in combination with forwarding to implement the following three routes, each leading to an administrative control panel at /admin:

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#[get("/admin")]
fn admin_panel(admin: AdminUser) -> &'static str {
    "Hello, administrator. This is the admin panel!"
}

#[get("/admin", rank = 2)]
fn admin_panel_user(user: User) -> &'static str {
    "Sorry, you must be an administrator to access this page."
}

#[get("/admin", rank = 3)]
fn admin_panel_redirect() -> Redirect {
    Redirect::to("/login")
}

The three routes above encode authentication and authorization. The admin_panel route only succeeds if an administrator is logged in. Only then is the admin panel displayed. If the user is not an admin, the AdminUser route will forward. Since the admin_panel_user route is ranked next highest, it is attempted next. This route succeeds if there is any user signed in, and an authorization failure message is displayed. Finally, if a user isn't signed in, the admin_panel_redirect route is attempted. Since this route has no guards, it always succeeds. The user is redirected to a log in page.

Cookies#

Cookies is an important, built-in request guard: it allows you to get, set, and remove cookies. Because Cookies is a request guard, an argument of its type can simply be added to a handler:

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use rocket::http::Cookies;

#[get("/")]
fn index(cookies: Cookies) -> Option<String> {
    cookies.get("message")
        .map(|value| format!("Message: {}", value))
}

This results in the incoming request's cookies being accessible from the handler. The example above retrieves a cookie named message. Cookies can also be set and removed using the Cookies guard. The cookies example on GitHub illustrates further use of the Cookies type to get and set cookies, while the Cookies documentation contains complete usage information.

Private Cookies#

Cookies added via the Cookies::add() method are set in the clear. In other words, the value set is visible by the client. For sensitive data, Rocket provides private cookies.

Private cookies are just like regular cookies except that they are encrypted using authenticated encryption, a form of encryption which simultaneously provides confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity. This means that private cookies cannot be inspected, tampered with, or manufactured by clients. If you prefer, you can think of private cookies as being signed and encrypted.

The API for retrieving, adding, and removing private cookies is identical except methods are suffixed with _private. These methods are: get_private, add_private, and remove_private. An example of their usage is below:

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/// Retrieve the user's ID, if any.
#[get("/user_id")]
fn user_id(cookies: Cookies) -> Option<String> {
    cookies.get_private("user_id")
        .map(|cookie| format!("User ID: {}", cookie.value()))
}

/// Remove the `user_id` cookie.
#[post("/logout")]
fn logout(mut cookies: Cookies) -> Flash<Redirect> {
    cookies.remove_private(Cookie::named("user_id"));
    Flash::success(Redirect::to("/"), "Successfully logged out.")
}

Secret Key#

To encrypt private cookies, Rocket uses the 256-bit key specified in the secret_key configuration parameter. If one is not specified, Rocket will automatically generate a fresh key. Note, however, that a private cookie can only be decrypted with the same key with which it was encrypted. As such, it is important to set a secret_key configuration parameter when using private cookies so that cookies decrypt properly after an application restart. Rocket emits a warning if an application is run in production without a configured secret_key.

Generating a string suitable for use as a secret_key configuration value is usually done through tools like openssl. Using openssl, a 256-bit base64 key can be generated with the command openssl rand -base64 32.

For more information on configuration, see the Configuration section of the guide.

One-At-A-Time#

For safety reasons, Rocket currently requires that at most one Cookies instance be active at a time. It's uncommon to run into this restriction, but it can be confusing to handle if it does crop up.

If this does happen, Rocket will emit messages to the console that look as follows:

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=> Error: Multiple `Cookies` instances are active at once.
=> An instance of `Cookies` must be dropped before another can be retrieved.
=> Warning: The retrieved `Cookies` instance will be empty.

The messages will be emitted when a violating handler is called. The issue can be resolved by ensuring that two instances of Cookies cannot be active at once due to the offending handler. A common error is to have a handler that uses a Cookies request guard as well as a Custom request guard that retrieves Cookies, as so:

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#[get("/")]
fn bad(cookies: Cookies, custom: Custom) { .. }

Because the cookies guard will fire before the custom guard, the custom guard will retrieve an instance of Cookies when one already exists for cookies. This scenario can be fixed by simply swapping the order of the guards:

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#[get("/")]
fn good(custom: Custom, cookies: Cookies) { .. }

Format#

A route can specify the data format it is willing to accept or respond with by using the format route parameter. The value of the parameter is a string identifying an HTTP media type or a shorthand variant. For instance, for JSON data, the string application/json of simply json can be used.

When a route indicates a payload-supporting method (PUT, POST, DELETE, and PATCH), the format route parameter instructs Rocket to check against the Content-Type header of the incoming request. Only requests where the Content-Type header matches the format parameter will match to the route.

As an example, consider the following route:

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#[post("/user", format = "application/json", data = "<user>")]
fn new_user(user: Json<User>) -> T { ... }

The format parameter in the post attribute declares that only incoming requests with Content-Type: application/json will match new_user. (The data parameter is described in the next section.) Shorthand is also supported for the most common format arguments. Instead of using the full Content-Type, format = "application/json", you can also write shorthands like format = "json". For a full list of available shorthands, see the ContentType::parse_flexible() documentation.

When a route indicates a non-payload-supporting method (HEAD, OPTIONS, and, these purposes, GET) the format route parameter instructs Rocket to check against the Accept header of the incoming request. Only requests where the preferred media type in the Accept header matches the format parameter will match to the route.

As an example, consider the following route:

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#[get("/user/<id>", format = "json")]
fn user(id: usize) -> Json<User> { ... }

The format parameter in the get attribute declares that only incoming requests with application/json as the preferred media type in the Accept header will match user. If instead the route had been declared as post, Rocket would match the format against the Content-Type header of the incoming response.

Body Data#

Body data processing, like much of Rocket, is type directed. To indicate that a handler expects body data, annotate it with data = "<param>", where param is an argument in the handler. The argument's type must implement the FromData trait. It looks like this, where T is assumed to implement FromData:

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#[post("/", data = "<input>")]
fn new(input: T) -> String { ... }

Any type that implements FromData is also known as data guard.

Forms#

Forms are one of the most common types of data handled in web applications, and Rocket makes handling them easy. Say your application is processing a form submission for a new todo Task. The form contains two fields: complete, a checkbox, and description, a text field. You can easily handle the form request in Rocket as follows:

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#[derive(FromForm)]
struct Task {
    complete: bool,
    description: String,
}

#[post("/todo", data = "<task>")]
fn new(task: Form<Task>) -> String { ... }

The Form type implements the FromData trait as long as its generic parameter implements the FromForm trait. In the example, we've derived the FromForm trait automatically for the Task structure. FromForm can be derived for any structure whose fields implement FromFormValue. If a POST /todo request arrives, the form data will automatically be parsed into the Task structure. If the data that arrives isn't of the correct Content-Type, the request is forwarded. If the data doesn't parse or is simply invalid, a customizable 400 - Bad Request or 422 - Unprocessable Entity error is returned. As before, a forward or failure can be caught by using the Option and Result types:

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#[post("/todo", data = "<task>")]
fn new(task: Option<Form<Task>>) -> String { ... }
Lenient Parsing#

Rocket's FromForm parsing is strict by default. In other words, A Form<T> will parse successfully from an incoming form only if the form contains the exact set of fields in T. Said another way, a Form<T> will error on missing and/or extra fields. For instance, if an incoming form contains the fields "a", "b", and "c" while T only contains "a" and "c", the form will not parse as Form<T>.

Rocket allows you to opt-out of this behavior via the LenientForm data type. A LenientForm<T> will parse successfully from an incoming form as long as the form contains a superset of the fields in T. Said another way, a LenientForm<T> automatically discards extra fields without error. For instance, if an incoming form contains the fields "a", "b", and "c" while T only contains "a" and "c", the form will parse as LenientForm<T>.

You can use a LenientForm anywhere you'd use a Form. Its generic parameter is also required to implement FromForm. For instance, we can simply replace Form with LenientForm above to get lenient parsing:

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#[derive(FromForm)]
struct Task { .. }

#[post("/todo", data = "<task>")]
fn new(task: LenientForm<Task>) { .. }
Field Renaming#

By default, Rocket matches the name of an incoming form field to the name of a structure field. While this behavior is typical, it may also be desired to use different names for form fields and struct fields while still parsing as expected. You can ask Rocket to look for a different form field for a given structure field by using the #[form(field = "name")] field annotation.

As an example, say that you're writing an application that receives data from an external service. The external service POSTs a form with a field named type. Since type is a reserved keyword in Rust, it cannot be used as the name of a field. To get around this, you can use field renaming as follows:

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#[derive(FromForm)]
struct External {
    #[form(field = "type")]
    api_type: String
}

Rocket will then match the form field named type to the structure field named api_type automatically.

Field Validation#

Fields of forms can be easily validated via implementations of the FromFormValue trait. For example, if you'd like to verify that some user is over some age in a form, then you might define a new AdultAge type, use it as a field in a form structure, and implement FromFormValue so that it only validates integers over that age:

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struct AdultAge(usize);

impl<'v> FromFormValue<'v> for AdultAge {
    type Error = &'v RawStr;

    fn from_form_value(form_value: &'v RawStr) -> Result<AdultAge, &'v RawStr> {
        match form_value.parse::<usize>() {
            Ok(age) if age >= 21 => Ok(AdultAge(age)),
            _ => Err(form_value),
        }
    }
}

#[derive(FromForm)]
struct Person {
    age: AdultAge
}

If a form is submitted with a bad age, Rocket won't call a handler requiring a valid form for that structure. You can use Option or Result types for fields to catch parse failures:

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#[derive(FromForm)]
struct Person {
    age: Option<AdultAge>
}

The FromFormValue trait can also be derived for enums with nullary fields:

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#[derive(FromFormValue)]
enum MyValue {
    First,
    Second,
    Third,
}

The derive generates an implementation of the FromFormValue trait for the decorated enum. The implementation returns successfully when the form value matches, case insensitively, the stringified version of a variant's name, returning an instance of said variant.

The form validation and form kitchen sink examples provide further illustrations.

JSON#

Handling JSON data is no harder: simply use the Json type from rocket_contrib:

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#[derive(Deserialize)]
struct Task {
    description: String,
    complete: bool
}

#[post("/todo", data = "<task>")]
fn new(task: Json<Task>) -> String { ... }

The only condition is that the generic type in Json implements the Deserialize trait from Serde. See the JSON example on GitHub for a complete example.

Streaming#

Sometimes you just want to handle incoming data directly. For example, you might want to stream the incoming data out to a file. Rocket makes this as simple as possible via the Data type:

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#[post("/upload", format = "plain", data = "<data>")]
fn upload(data: Data) -> io::Result<String> {
    data.stream_to_file("/tmp/upload.txt").map(|n| n.to_string())
}

The route above accepts any POST request to the /upload path with Content-Type: text/plain The incoming data is streamed out to tmp/upload.txt, and the number of bytes written is returned as a plain text response if the upload succeeds. If the upload fails, an error response is returned. The handler above is complete. It really is that simple! See the GitHub example code for the full crate.

Warning: You should always set limits when reading incoming data.

To prevent DoS attacks, you should limit the amount of data you're willing to accept. The take() reader adapter makes doing this easy: data.open().take(LIMIT).

Error Catchers#

Routing may fail for a variety of reasons. These include:

If any of these conditions occur, Rocket returns an error to the client. To do so, Rocket invokes the catcher corresponding to the error's status code. A catcher is like a route, except it only handles errors. Rocket provides default catchers for all of the standard HTTP error codes. To override a default catcher, or declare a catcher for a custom status code, use the catch attribute, which takes a single integer corresponding to the HTTP status code to catch. For instance, to declare a catcher for 404 Not Found errors, you'd write:

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#[catch(404)]
fn not_found(req: &Request) -> T { .. }

As with routes, the return type (here T) must implement Responder. A concrete implementation may look like:

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#[catch(404)]
fn not_found(req: &Request) -> String {
    format!("Sorry, '{}' is not a valid path.", req.uri())
}

Also as with routes, Rocket needs to know about a catcher before it is used to handle errors. The process, known as "registering" a catcher, is similar to mounting a route: call the register() method with a list of catchers via the catchers! macro. The invocation to add the 404 catcher declared above looks like:

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rocket::ignite().register(catchers![not_found])

Unlike route request handlers, catchers take exactly zero or one parameter. If the catcher takes a parameter, it must be of type &Request The error catcher example on GitHub illustrates their use in full.