Riak is an open source, distributed database.

There are multiple clients for Riak, with varying levels of complexity, Scala integration, and maturity.

Getting going with Basho’s riak-java-client

Assuming you’ve got Riak installed already, getting it working with Scalatra is as follows.

See riak-example for a minimal and standalone project containing the example in this guide.

We’ll use Basho’s officially-supported riak-java-client library.

Reference riak-client from your build file

First, add the library to project/build.scala:

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
        "com.basho.riak" % "riak-client" % "1.1.0",
        "org.scalatra" %% "scalatra" % ScalatraVersion,

Start a connection pool at application start

Next, we’ll make a RiakInit trait which we can use to initialize a Riak bucket when our application starts:

package org.scalatra.example

import com.basho.riak.client.RiakFactory
import org.slf4j.LoggerFactory

 * A trait we mix into Scalatra's initalization lifecycle to ensure we've got
 * a Riak client and a bucket set up after the application starts.
trait RiakJavaClientInit {
  val logger = LoggerFactory.getLogger(getClass)

  // get access to a bucket using a binary connection and the riak-java-client
  val riakClient = RiakFactory.pbcClient

  def configureRiakJavaClient() {
    logger.info("Creating a Riak bucket")

    // make sure we've got a bucket to use

  def closeRiakJavaClient() {
    logger.info("Closing Riak client")



With this trait in place, we can fire up a Riak client connection at application start (and shut it down when the application is destroyed), by using the init and destroy methods in ScalatraBootstrap:

import org.scalatra.example._
import org.scalatra._
import javax.servlet.ServletContext

class ScalatraBootstrap extends LifeCycle with RiakJavaClientInit {

  override def init(context: ServletContext) {
    context.mount(new SimpleRiakController, "/*")

  override def destroy(context: ServletContext) {

Next, we can add a RiakSupport trait to mix into our controllers:

 * A trait we can use to get a handle on the Riak bucket we created at
 * application start.
trait RiakSupport {

  def myBucket = {


The RiakSupport trait can now be mixed into any of your Scalatra controllers, like this:

package org.scalatra.example

import org.scalatra._

 * This controller uses the Basho-supported riak-java-client, and the binary connection
 * defined in ScalatraBootstrap.
 * */
class SimpleRiakController extends RiakExampleStack with RiakSupport {

   * Insert a new object into the database. You can use the following from your console to try it out:
   * curl -i -X POST -d "key=super&value=duper" http://localhost:8080/insert
  post("/insert") {
    val key = params("key")
    val value = params("value")
    myBucket.store(key, value).returnBody(true).execute

  // Retrieve a previously stored object from Riak
  get("/by-key/:key") {
    val key = params("key")
    val myData = myBucket.fetch(key).execute


This client is very Java-esque (e.g. myData.getValue), but the Java client is the one that’s officially supported by Basho, the makers of Riak.

You may want to either write a wrapper for it, or overlook that.

Scala clients

You’ve got multiple Scala alternatives, as well. The process of integrating the Scalapenos riak-scala-client or Stackmob’s Scaliak will be very similar to the Java client example provided here.

Both riak-scala-client and Scaliak allow you to define serializers. This means you can easily model your domain objects in Scala, and persist them to Riak in a somewhat more natural way. The Scala clients also allows for a more idiomatic approach to error handling. The trade-off is that they are relatively new projects.

Notes on riak-scala-client

In the case of riak-scala-client, it’s worth noting: if your application already uses an Akka ActorSystem, you can initialize riak-scala-client with it during application startup. ActorSystem instantiation is a heavyweight operation and should only happen once during application initialization; see the Akka Guide to see how it’s done. If you don’t need your own ActorSystem for any other purpose, you can simply use the default one which riak-scala-client will provide.