What is an Application?

An Application instance is the main unit of a Ktor Application. When a request comes in (a request can be HTTP, HTTP/2 or Socket requests), it is converted to an ApplicationCall and goes through a pipeline which is owned by the Application. The pipeline consists of one or more interceptors that are previously installed, providing certain functionality such as routing, compression, etc.

The ApplicationCall provides access to two main properties ApplicationRequest and ApplicationResponse. As their names indicate, they correspond to the incoming request and outgoing response. In addition to these, it also provides some useful functions to help response to client requests. Given that pipelines can be executed asynchronously, ApplicationCall also represents the logical execution context with Attributes to pass data between various parts of the pipeline.

Installing interceptor into pipeline is the primary method to alter the processing of an ApplicationCall. Nearly all Ktor features are interceptors that perform various operations in different phases of the application call processing.

    intercept(ApplicationCallPipeline.Call) { 
        if (call.request.uri == "/")
            call.respondText("Test String")

The code above installs an interceptor into the Call phase of an ApplicationCall processing, and responds with plain text when the request is asking for a root page.

This is just an example and usually page requests are not handled in this way, as there is a routing facility that does this and more. Also, as mentioned previously, defining interceptor is usually done using features with an install function.

Most functions available on ApplicationCall (such as respondText above) are suspend functions, indicating that they can potentially execute asynchronously.

See advanced topic Pipeline for more information on the mechanics of processing ApplicationCalls