Ktor 1.6.4 Help


Routing is the core Ktor plugin (formerly known as feature) for handling incoming requests in a server application. When the client makes a request to a specific URL (for example, /hello), the routing mechanism allows us to define how we want this request to be served.

Install Routing

The Routing plugin can be installed in the following way:

import io.ktor.routing.* install(Routing) { // ... }

Given the Routing plugin is so common in any application, there is a convenient routing function that makes it simpler to install routing. In the code snippet below, install(Routing) is replaced with the routing function:

import io.ktor.routing.* routing { // ... }

Define a route handler

After installing the Routing plugin, you can call the route function inside routing to define a route:

import io.ktor.routing.* import io.ktor.http.* import io.ktor.response.* routing { route("/hello", HttpMethod.Get) { handle { call.respondText("Hello") } } }

Ktor also provides a series of functions that make defining route handlers much easier and more concise. For example, you can replace the previous code with a get function that now only needs to take the URL and the code to handle the request:

import io.ktor.routing.* import io.ktor.response.* routing { get("/hello") { call.respondText("Hello") } }

Similarly, Ktor provides functions for all the other verbs, that is put, post, head, and so on.

In summary, you need to specify the following settings to define a route:

  • HTTP verb
    Choose the HTTP verb, such as GET, POST, PUT, and so on. The most convenient way is to use a dedicated verb function, such as get, post, put, and so on.

  • Path pattern
    Specify a path pattern used to match a URL path, for example, /hello, /customer/{id}. You can pass a path pattern right to the get/ post /etc. function, or you can use the route function to group route handlers and define nested routes.

  • Handler
    Specify how to handle requests and responses. Inside the handler, you can get access to ApplicationCall, handle client requests, and send responses.

Specify a path pattern

A path pattern passed to the routing functions (route, get, post, etc.) is used to match a path component of the URL. A path can contain a sequence of path segments separated by a slash / character.

Below are several path examples:

  • /hello
    A path containing a single path segment.

  • /order/shipment
    A path containing several path segments. You can pass such a path to the route/get/etc. function as is or organize sub-routes by nesting several route functions.

  • /user/{login}
    A path with the login route parameter, whose value can be accessed inside the route handler.

  • /user/*
    A path with a wildcard character that matches any path segment.

  • /user/{...}
    A path with a tailcard that matches all the rest of the URL path.

  • /user/{param...}
    A path containing a route parameter with tailcard.


A wildcard (*) matches any path segment and can't be missing. For example, /user/* matches /user/john, but doesn't match /user.


A tailcard ({...}) matches all the rest of the URL path, can include several path segments, and can be empty. For example, /user/{...} matches /user/john/settings as well as /user.

Route parameter

A route parameter ({param}) matches a path segment and captures it as a parameter named param. This path segment is mandatory, but you can make it optional by adding a question mark: {param?}. For example:

  • /user/{login} matches /user/john, but doesn't match /user.

  • /user/{login?} matches /user/john as well as /user.

To access a parameter value inside the route handler, use the call.parameters property. For example, call.parameters["login"] in the code snippet below will return admin for the /user/admin path:

get("/user/{login}") { if (call.parameters["login"] == "admin") { // ... } }

Route parameter with tailcard

A route parameter with a tailcard ({param...}) matches all the rest of the URL path and puts multiple values for each path segment into parameters using param as key. For example, /user/{param...} matches /user/john/settings.
To access path segments' values inside the route handler, use call.parameters.getAll("param"). For the example above, the getAll function will return an array containing the john and settings values.

Define multiple route handlers

If you want to define multiple route handlers, which of course is the case for any application, you can just add them to the routing function:

routing { get("/customer/{id}") { } post("/customer") { } get("/order/{id}") { } }

In this case, each route has its own function and responds to the specific endpoint and HTTP verb.

An alternative way is to group these by paths, whereby you define the path and then place the verbs for that path as nested functions, using the route function:

routing { route("/customer") { get { } post { } } }

Independently of how you do the grouping, Ktor also allows you to have sub-routes as parameters to route functions. The following example shows us how to respond to incoming requests to /order/shipment:

routing { route("/order") { route("/shipment") { get { } post { } } } }

Route extension functions

A common pattern is to use extension functions on the Route type to define the actual routes, allowing us easy access to the verbs and remove clutter of having all routes in a single routing function. You can apply this pattern independently of how you decide to group routes. As such, the first example could be represented in a cleaner way:

routing { customerByIdRoute() createCustomerRoute() orderByIdRoute() createOrder() } fun Route.customerByIdRoute() { get("/customer/{id}") { } } fun Route.createCustomerRoute() { post("/customer") { } } fun Route.orderByIdRoute() { get("/order/{id}") { } } fun Route.createOrder() { post("/order") { } }

For our application to scale when it comes to maintainability, it is recommended to follow certain Structuring patterns.

Last modified: 28 May 2021