Guide

The ins and outs of Rocket, in detail.

Responses#

You may have noticed that the return type of a handler appears to be arbitrary, and that's because it is! A value of any type that implements the Responder trait can be returned, including your own. In this section, we describe the Responder trait as well as several useful Responders provided by Rocket. We'll also briefly discuss how to implement your own Responder.

Responder#

Types that implement Responder know how to generate a Response from their values. A Response includes an HTTP status, headers, and body. The body may either be fixed-sized or streaming. The given Responder implementation decides which to use. For instance, String uses a fixed-sized body, while File uses a streamed response. Responders may dynamically adjust their responses according to the incoming Request they are responding to.

Wrapping#

Before we describe a few responders, we note that it is typical for responders to wrap other responders. That is, responders can be of the following form, where R is some type that implements Responder:

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struct WrappingResponder<R>(R);

A wrapping responder modifies the response returned by R before responding with that same response. For instance, Rocket provides Responders in the status module that override the status code of the wrapped Responder. As an example, the Accepted type sets the status to 202 - Accepted. It can be used as follows:

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use rocket::response::status;

#[post("/<id>")]
fn new(id: usize) -> status::Accepted<String> {
    status::Accepted(Some(format!("id: '{}'", id)))
}

Similarly, the types in the content module can be used to override the Content-Type of a response. For instance, to set the Content-Type of &'static str to JSON, you can use the content::Json type as follows:

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use rocket::response::content;

#[get("/")]
fn json() -> content::Json<&'static str> {
    content::Json("{ 'hi': 'world' }")
}
Warning: This is not the same as the Json in rocket_contrib!

Errors#

Responders may fail; they need not always generate a response. Instead, they can return an Err with a given status code. When this happens, Rocket forwards the request to the error catcher for the given status code.

If an error catcher has been registered for the given status code, Rocket will invoke it. The catcher creates and returns a response to the client. If no error catcher has been registered and the error status code is one of the standard HTTP status code, a default error catcher will be used. Default error catchers return an HTML page with the status code and description. If there is no catcher for a custom status code, Rocket uses the 500 error catcher to return a response.

Status#

While not encouraged, you can also forward a request to a catcher manually by returning a Status directly. For instance, to forward to the catcher for 406: Not Acceptable, you would write:

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use rocket::http::Status;

#[get("/")]
fn just_fail() -> Status {
    Status::NotAcceptable
}

The response generated by Status depends on the status code itself. As indicated above, for error status codes (in range [400, 599]), Status forwards to the corresponding error catcher. The table below summarizes responses generated by Status for these and other codes:

Status Code RangeResponse
[400, 599]Forwards to catcher for given status.
100, [200, 205]Empty with given status.
All others.Invalid. Errors to 500 catcher.

Custom Responders#

The Responder trait documentation details how to implement your own custom responders by explicitly implementing the trait. For most use cases, however, Rocket makes it possible to automatically derive an implementation of Responder. In particular, if your custom responder wraps an existing responder, headers, or sets a custom status or content-type, Responder can be automatically derived:

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#[derive(Responder)]
#[response(status = 500, content_type = "json")]
struct MyResponder {
    inner: OtherResponder,
    header: SomeHeader,
    more: YetAnotherHeader,
    #[response(ignore)]
    unrelated: MyType,
}

For the example above, Rocket generates a Responder implementation that:

Note that the first field is used as the inner responder while all remaining fields (unless ignored with #[response(ignore)]) are added as headers to the response. The optional #[responder] attribute can be used to customize the status and content-type of the response. Because ContentType and Status are themselves headers, you can also dynamically set the content-type and status by simply including fields of these types.

For more on using the Responder derive, see the Responder derive documentation.

Implementations#

Rocket implements Responder for many types in Rust's standard library including String, &str, File, Option, and Result. The Responder documentation describes these in detail, but we briefly cover a few here.

Strings#

The Responder implementations for &str and String are straight-forward: the string is used as a sized body, and the Content-Type of the response is set to text/plain. To get a taste for what such a Responder implementation looks like, here's the implementation for String:

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impl Responder<'static> for String {
    fn respond_to(self, _: &Request) -> Result<Response<'static>, Status> {
        Response::build()
            .header(ContentType::Plain)
            .sized_body(Cursor::new(self))
            .ok()
    }
}

Because of these implementations, you can directly return an &str or String type from a handler:

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#[get("/string")]
fn handler() -> &'static str {
    "Hello there! I'm a string!"
}

Option#

Option is a wrapping responder: an Option<T> can only be returned when T implements Responder. If the Option is Some, the wrapped responder is used to respond to the client. Otherwise, a error of 404 - Not Found is returned to the client.

This implementation makes Option a convenient type to return when it is not known until process-time whether content exists. For example, because of Option, we can implement a file server that returns a 200 when a file is found and a 404 when a file is not found in just 4, idiomatic lines:

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#[get("/<file..>")]
fn files(file: PathBuf) -> Option<NamedFile> {
    NamedFile::open(Path::new("static/").join(file)).ok()
}

Result#

Result is a special kind of wrapping responder: its functionality depends on whether the error type E implements Responder.

When the error type E implements Responder, the wrapped Responder in Ok or Err, whichever it might be, is used to respond to the client. This means that the responder can be chosen dynamically at run-time, and two different kinds of responses can be used depending on the circumstances. Revisiting our file server, for instance, we might wish to provide more feedback to the user when a file isn't found. We might do this as follows:

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use rocket::response::status::NotFound;

#[get("/<file..>")]
fn files(file: PathBuf) -> Result<NamedFile, NotFound<String>> {
    let path = Path::new("static/").join(file);
    NamedFile::open(&path).map_err(|_| NotFound(format!("Bad path: {}", path)))
}

If the error type E does not implement Responder, then the error is simply logged to the console, using its Debug implementation, and a 500 error is returned to the client.

Rocket Responders#

Some of Rocket's best features are implemented through responders. You can find many of these responders in the response module and rocket_contrib library. Among these are:

Streaming#

The Stream type deserves special attention. When a large amount of data needs to be sent to the client, it is better to stream the data to the client to avoid consuming large amounts of memory. Rocket provides the Stream type, making this easy. The Stream type can be created from any Read type. For example, to stream from a local Unix stream, we might write:

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#[get("/stream")]
fn stream() -> io::Result<Stream<UnixStream>> {
    UnixStream::connect("/path/to/my/socket").map(|s| Stream::from(s))
}

JSON#

The Json responder in rocket_contrib allows you to easily respond with well-formed JSON data: simply return a value of type Json<T> where T is the type of a structure to serialize into JSON. The type T must implement the Serialize trait from serde, which can be automatically derived.

As an example, to respond with the JSON value of a Task structure, we might write:

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use rocket_contrib::json::Json;

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

#[get("/todo")]
fn todo() -> Json<Task> { ... }

The Json type serializes the structure into JSON, sets the Content-Type to JSON, and emits the serialized data in a fixed-sized body. If serialization fails, a 500 - Internal Server Error is returned.

The JSON example on GitHub provides further illustration.

Templates#

Rocket includes built-in templating support that works largely through a Template responder in rocket_contrib. To render a template named "index", for instance, you might return a value of type Template as follows:

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#[get("/")]
fn index() -> Template {
    let context = /* object-like value */;
    Template::render("index", &context)
}

Templates are rendered with the render method. The method takes in the name of a template and a context to render the template with. The context can be any type that implements Serialize and serializes into an Object value, such as structs, HashMaps, and others.

For a template to be renderable, it must first be registered. The Template fairing automatically registers all discoverable templates when attached. The Fairings sections of the guide provides more information on fairings. To attach the template fairing, simply call .attach(Template::fairing()) on an instance of Rocket as follows:

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fn main() {
    rocket::ignite()
        .mount("/", routes![...])
        .attach(Template::fairing());
}

Rocket discovers templates in the configurable template_dir directory. Templating support in Rocket is engine agnostic. The engine used to render a template depends on the template file's extension. For example, if a file ends with .hbs, Handlebars is used, while if a file ends with .tera, Tera is used.

Note: The name of the template does not include its extension.

For a template file named index.html.tera, call render("index") and use the name "index" in templates, i.e, {% extends "index" %} or {% extends "base" %} for base.html.tera.

Live Reloading#

When your application is compiled in debug mode (without the --release flag passed to cargo), templates are automatically reloaded when they are modified on supported platforms. This means that you don't need to rebuild your application to observe template changes: simply refresh! In release builds, reloading is disabled.

The Template API documentation contains more information about templates, including how to customize a template engine to add custom helpers and filters. The Handlebars templates example is a fully composed application that makes use of Handlebars templates, while the Tera templates example does the same for Tera.

Typed URIs#

Rocket's uri! macro allows you to build URIs to routes in your application in a robust, type-safe, and URI-safe manner. Type or route parameter mismatches are caught at compile-time, and changes to route URIs are automatically reflected in the generated URIs.

The uri! macro returns an Origin structure with the URI of the supplied route interpolated with the given values. Each value passed into uri! is rendered in its appropriate place in the URI using the UriDisplay implementation for the value's type. The UriDisplay implementation ensures that the rendered value is URI-safe.

Note that Origin implements Into<Uri> (and by extension, TryInto<Uri>), so it can be converted into a Uri using .into() as needed and passed into methods such as Redirect::to().

For example, given the following route:

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#[get("/person/<name>?<age>")]
fn person(name: String, age: Option<u8>) -> T

URIs to person can be created as follows:

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// with unnamed parameters, in route path declaration order
let mike = uri!(person: "Mike Smith", 28);
assert_eq!(mike.to_string(), "/person/Mike%20Smith?age=28");

// with named parameters, order irrelevant
let mike = uri!(person: name = "Mike", age = 28);
let mike = uri!(person: age = 28, name = "Mike");
assert_eq!(mike.to_string(), "/person/Mike?age=28");

// with a specific mount-point
let mike = uri!("/api", person: name = "Mike", age = 28);
assert_eq!(mike.to_string(), "/api/person/Mike?age=28");

// with optional (defaultable) query parameters ignored
let mike = uri!(person: "Mike", _);
let mike = uri!(person: name = "Mike", age = _);
assert_eq!(mike.to_string(), "/person/Mike");

Rocket informs you of any mismatched parameters at compile-time:

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error: person route uri expects 2 parameters but 1 was supplied
 --> examples/uri/src/main.rs:9:29
  |
9 |     uri!(person: "Mike Smith");
  |                  ^^^^^^^^^^^^
  |
  = note: expected parameters: name: String, age: Option<u8>

Rocket also informs you of any type errors at compile-time:

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error: the trait bound u8: FromUriParam<Query, &str> is not satisfied
 --> examples/uri/src/main.rs:9:35
  |
9 |     uri!(person: age = "10", name = "Mike");
  |                        ^^^^ FromUriParam<Query, &str> is not implemented for u8
  |

We recommend that you use uri! exclusively when constructing URIs to your routes.

Ignorables#

As illustrated in the previous above, query parameters can be ignored using _ in place of an expression in a uri! invocation. The corresponding type in the route URI must implement Ignorable. Ignored parameters are not interpolated into the resulting Origin. Path parameters are not ignorable.

Deriving UriDisplay#

The UriDisplay trait can be derived for custom types. For types that appear in the path part of a URI, derive using UriDisplayPath; for types that appear in the query part of a URI, derive using UriDisplayQuery.

As an example, consider the following form structure and route:

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#[derive(FromForm, UriDisplayQuery)]
struct UserDetails<'r> {
    age: Option<usize>,
    nickname: &'r RawStr,
}

#[post("/user/<id>?<details..>")]
fn add_user(id: usize, details: Form<UserDetails>) { .. }

By deriving using UriDisplayQuery, an implementation of UriDisplay<Query> is automatically generated, allowing for URIs to add_user to be generated using uri!:

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uri!(add_user: 120, UserDetails { age: Some(20), nickname: "Bob".into() })
  => "/user/120?age=20&nickname=Bob"

Typed URI Parts#

The UriPart trait categorizes types that mark a part of the URI as either a Path or a Query. Said another way, types that implement UriPart are marker types that represent a part of a URI at the type-level. Traits such as UriDisplay and FromUriParam bound a generic parameter by UriPart: P: UriPart. This creates two instances of each trait: UriDisplay<Query> and UriDisplay<Path>, and FromUriParam<Query> and FromUriParam<Path>.

As the names might imply, the Path version of the traits is used when displaying parameters in the path part of the URI while the Query version is used when displaying parameters in the query part of the URI. These distinct versions of the traits exist exactly to differentiate, at the type-level, where in the URI a value is to be written to, allowing for type safety in the face of differences between the two locations. For example, while it is valid to use a value of None in the query part, omitting the parameter entirely, doing so is not valid in the path part. By differentiating in the type system, both of these conditions can be enforced appropriately through distinct implementations of FromUriParam<Path> and FromUriParam<Query>.

Conversions#

The FromUriParam is used to perform a conversion for each value passed to uri! before it is displayed with UriDisplay. If a FromUriParam<P, S> implementation exists for a type T for part URI part P, then a value of type S can be used in uri! macro for a route URI parameter declared with a type of T in part P. For example, the following implementation, provided by Rocket, allows an &str to be used in a uri! invocation for route URI parameters declared as String:

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impl<P: UriPart, 'a> FromUriParam<P, &'a str> for String { .. }

Other conversions to be aware of are:

Conversions nest. For instance, a value of type T can be supplied when a value of type Option<Form<T>> is expected:

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#[get("/person/<id>?<details>")]
fn person(id: usize, details: Option<Form<UserDetails>>) -> T

uri!(person: id = 100, details = UserDetails { .. })

See the FromUriParam documentation for further details.