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This feature adds WebSockets support to Ktor. WebSockets are a mechanism to keep a bi-directional real-time ordered connection between the server and the client. Each message from this channel is called Frame: a frame can be a text or binary message, or a close or ping/pong message. Frames can be marked as incomplete or final.

This feature is defined in the class io.ktor.websocket.WebSockets in the artifact io.ktor:ktor-websockets:$ktor_version.
dependencies { compile "io.ktor:ktor-websockets:$ktor_version" }
<project> ... <dependencies> <dependency> <groupId>io.ktor</groupId> <artifactId>ktor-websockets</artifactId> <version>${ktor.version}</version> <scope>compile</scope> </dependency> </dependencies> </project>

Table of contents:


In order to use the WebSockets functionality you first have to install it:


You can adjust a few parameters when installing if required:

install(WebSockets) {
    pingPeriod = Duration.ofSeconds(60) // Disabled (null) by default
    timeout = Duration.ofSeconds(15)
    maxFrameSize = Long.MAX_VALUE // Disabled (max value). The connection will be closed if surpassed this length. 
    masking = false


Once installed, you can define the webSocket routes for the routing feature:

Instead of the short-lived normal route handlers, webSocket handlers are meant to be long-lived. And all the relevant WebSocket methods are suspended so that the function will be suspended in a non-blocking way while receiving or sending messages.

webSocket methods receive a callback with a WebSocketSession instance as the receiver. That interface defines an incoming (ReceiveChannel) property and an outgoing (SendChannel) property, as well as a close method. Check the full WebSocketSession for more information.

Usage as an suspend actor

routing {
    webSocket("/") { // websocketSession
        while (true) {
            val frame = incoming.receive()
            when (frame) {
                is Frame.Text -> {
                    val text = frame.readText()
                    outgoing.send(Frame.Text("YOU SAID: $text"))
                    if (text.equals("bye", ignoreCase = true)) {
                        close(CloseReason(CloseReason.Codes.NORMAL, "Client said BYE"))

An exception will be thrown while receiving a Frame if the client closes the connection explicitly or the TCP socket is closed. So even with a while (true) loop, this shouldn’t be a leak.

Usage as a Channel

Since the incoming property is a ReceiveChannel, you can use it with its stream-like interface:

routing {
    webSocket("/") { // websocketSession
        incoming.mapNotNull { it as? Frame.Text }.consumeEach { frame ->
            val text = frame.readText()
            outgoing.send(Frame.Text("YOU SAID $text"))
            if (text.equals("bye", ignoreCase = true)) {
                close(CloseReason(CloseReason.Codes.NORMAL, "Client said BYE"))


The WebSocketSession interface

You receive a WebSocketSession as the receiver (this), giving you direct access to these members inside your webSocket handler.

interface WebSocketSession {
    // Basic interface
    val incoming: ReceiveChannel<Frame> // Incoming frames channel
    val outgoing: SendChannel<Frame> // Outgoing frames channel
    fun close(reason: CloseReason)

    // Convenience method equivalent to `outgoing.send(frame)`
    suspend fun send(frame: Frame) // Enqueue frame, may suspend if the outgoing queue is full. May throw an exception if the outgoing channel is already closed, so it is impossible to transfer any message.

    // The call and the context
    val call: ApplicationCall
    val application: Application

    // Modifiable properties for this request. Their initial value comes from the feature configuration.
    var pingInterval: Duration?
    var timeout: Duration
    var masking: Boolean // Enable or disable masking output messages by a random xor mask.
    var maxFrameSize: Long // Specifies frame size limit. The connection will be closed if violated
    // Advanced
    val closeReason: Deferred<CloseReason?>
    suspend fun flush() // Flush all outstanding messages and suspend until all earlier sent messages will be written. Could be called at any time even after close. May return immediately if connection is already terminated.
    fun terminate() // Initiate connection termination immediately. Termination may complete asynchronously.

If you need information about the connection. For example the client ip, you have access to the call property. So you can do things like call.request.origin.host inside your websocket block.

The Frame interface

A frame is each packet sent and received at the WebSocket protocol level. There are two message types: TEXT and BINARY. And three control packets: CLOSE, PING, and PONG. Each packet has a payload buffer. And for Text or Close messages, you can call the readText or readReason to interpret that buffer.

enum class FrameType { TEXT, BINARY, CLOSE, PING, PONG }
sealed class Frame {
    val fin: Boolean // Is this frame a final frame?
    val frameType: FrameType // The Type of the frame
    val buffer: ByteBuffer // Payload
    val disposableHandle: DisposableHandle

    class Binary : Frame
    class Text : Frame {
        fun readText(): String
    class Close : Frame {
        fun readReason(): CloseReason?
    class Ping : Frame
    class Pong : Frame


You can test WebSocket conversations by using the handleWebSocketConversation method inside a withTestApplication block.

fun testConversation() {
    withTestApplication {

        val received = arrayListOf<String>()
        application.routing {
            webSocket("/echo") {
                try {
                    while (true) {
                        val text = (incoming.receive() as Frame.Text).readText()
                        received += text
                } catch (e: ClosedReceiveChannelException) {
                    // Do nothing!
                } catch (e: Throwable) {

        handleWebSocketConversation("/echo") { incoming, outgoing ->
            val textMessages = listOf("HELLO", "WORLD")
            for (msg in textMessages) {
                assertEquals(msg, (incoming.receive() as Frame.Text).readText())
            assertEquals(textMessages, received)