All web applications need a way to match up the incoming HTTP request with some code to execute on the server. In Scalatra, this is done using routes and actions.

If somebody makes a POST request to your application, at, you might want to invoke code on the server which will look at the information contained in the incoming request, and use it to create a new Article object. The fact that it’s a POST request, and the request path is /articles, are route information. The code that you execute is the action.

Actions are dealt with in the next guide.

A simple example

In Scalatra, a route is an HTTP method (GET, PUT, POST, or DELETE) paired with a URL matching pattern. If you set up your application using RESTful conventions, your controller might look something like this:

class Articles extends ScalatraServlet {

  get("/articles/:id") {  //  <= this is a route matcher
    // this is an action
    // this action would show the article which has the specified :id

  post("/articles") {
    // submit/create an article

  put("/articles/:id") {
    // update the article which has the specified :id

  delete("/articles/:id") {
    // delete the article with the specified :id

Those four example routes, and the actions inside the route blocks, could be the basis of a simple blogging system. The examples just stub out the actions - in a real application, you’d replace the // comments with code to save and retrieve models, and show HTML views.

Named parameters

Route patterns may include named parameters (see below for more on parameter handling):

get("/hello/:name") {
  // Matches "GET /hello/foo" and "GET /hello/bar"
  // params("name") is "foo" or "bar"
  <p>Hello, {params("name")}</p>


Route patterns may also include wildcard parameters, accessible through the splat key.

get("/say/*/to/*") {
  // Matches "GET /say/hello/to/world"
  multiParams("splat") // == Seq("hello", "world")

get("/download/*.*") {
  // Matches "GET /download/path/to/file.xml"
  multiParams("splat") // == Seq("path/to/file", "xml")

Regular expressions

The route matcher may also be a regular expression. Capture groups are accessible through the captures key.

get("""^/f(.*)/b(.*)""".r) {
  // Matches "GET /foo/bar"
  multiParams("captures") // == Seq("oo", "ar")

It’s likely that you’ll want to anchor your regex (e.g. ^/this/that) to make sure that the matched URL pattern starts at the beginning of the incoming path. There could be cases where you wouldn’t want this, but they’re hard to imagine.

Rails-like pattern matching

By default, route patterns parsing is based on Sinatra. Rails has a similar, but not identical, syntax, based on Rack::Mount’s Strexp. The path pattern parser is resolved implicitly, and may be overridden if you prefer an alternate syntax:

import org.scalatra._

class RailsLikeRouting extends ScalatraFilter {
  implicit override def string2RouteMatcher(path: String) =

  get("/:file(.:ext)") { // matched Rails-style }

Path patterns in the REPL

If you want to experiment with path patterns, it’s very easy in the REPL. Simply use a Scalatra project, like one created by our giter8 template.

$ cd [project root]
$ sbt
> console

scala> import org.scalatra.SinatraPathPatternParser
import org.scalatra.SinatraPathPatternParser

scala> val pattern = SinatraPathPatternParser("/foo/:bar")
pattern: PathPattern = PathPattern(^/foo/([^/?#]+)$,List(bar))

scala> pattern("/y/x") // doesn't match
res1: Option[MultiParams] = None

scala> pattern("/foo/x") // matches
res2: Option[MultiParams] = Some(Map(bar -> Vector(x)))

Alternatively, you may use the RailsPathPatternParser in place of the SinatraPathPatternParser.


Routes may include conditions. A condition is any expression that returns Boolean. Conditions are evaluated by-name each time the route matcher runs.

get("/foo") {
  // Matches "GET /foo"

get("/foo", request.getRemoteHost == "") {
  // Overrides "GET /foo" for local users

Multiple conditions can be chained together. A route must match all conditions:

get("/foo", request.getRemoteHost == "", request.getRemoteUser == "admin") {
  // Only matches if you're the admin, and you're localhost

No path pattern is necessary. A route may consist of solely a condition:

get(isMaintenanceMode) {
  <h1>Go away!</h1>

Enabling support for PUT and DELETE requests

Scalatra supports all of the HTTP verbs: GET and POST, which are supported by browser clients, but also PUT and DELETE, which are not.

Many client libraries use non-standard but simple conventions to indicate that they would like the request to be considered as a PUT or DELETE instead of a POST: for example, jQuery adds a X-HTTP-METHOD-OVERRIDE header to the request.

Other clients and frameworks often indicate the same thing by adding a _method=put or _method=delete parameter to a POST body.

Scalatra will look for these conventions on incoming requests and transform the request method automatically if you add the MethodOverride trait into your servlet or filter:

class MyFilter extends ScalatraFilter with MethodOverride {

  // POST to "/foo/bar" with params "id=2" and "_method=put" will hit this route:
  put("/foo/bar/:id") {
    // update your resource here

Route order

The first matching route is invoked. Routes are matched from the bottom up, i.e. from the bottom of the Scala class defining your servlet to the top. Watch out! This is the opposite of Sinatra. Route definitions are executed as part of a Scala constructor; by matching from the bottom up, routes can be overridden in child classes.

Parameter handling

Incoming HTTP request parameters become available to your actions through two methods: multiParams and params.

a result of merging the standard request params (query string or post params) with the route parameters extracted from the route matchers of the current route. The default value for an unknown param is the empty sequence. Keys return Sequences of values.
a special, simplified view of multiParams, containing only the head element for any known param, and returning the values as Strings.

A params example

As an example, let’s hit a URL with a GET like this:


Look closely: there are two “foo” keys in there.

Assuming there’s a matching route at /articles/:id, we get the following results inside the action:

get("/articles/:id") {
  params("id") // => "52"
  params("foo") // => "uno" (discarding the second "foo" parameter value)
  params("unknown") // => generates a NoSuchElementException
  params.get("unknown") // => None - this is what Scala does with unknown keys in a Map

  multiParams("id") // => Seq("52")
  multiParams("foo") // => Seq("uno", "anotherfoo")
  multiParams("unknown") // => an empty Seq


You can set defaults for parameter values easily by using params.getOrElse.

Let’s say you wanted to require an :author name param, and set a :page value to 1 by default. If you don’t receive an :author, you want to stop execution. You could do it like this:

get("/articles-by/:author/:page") {
  val author:String = params.getOrElse("author", halt(400))
  val page:Int = params.getOrElse("page", "1").toInt
  // now do stuff with your params

GET and POST params, and where’s my JSON?

Both GET and POST params end up in the params bag - you shouldn’t need to read anything off the request.body.

If you put data directly into the POST body of your request, e.g. '{"some":"object"}' by itself as a JSON hash, then the JSON itself becomes an empty key in the params Map.


Scalatra offers a way for you too hook into the request chain of your application via before and after filters, which both accept a block to yield. Filters optionally take a URL pattern to match to the request.


The before method will let you pass a block to be evaluated before each and every route gets processed.

before() {

get("/") {
  val list = MyDb.findAll()
  templateEngine.layout("index.ssp", list)

In this example, we’ve set up a before filter to connect using a contrived MyDb module, and set the contentType for all requests to text/html.


The after method lets you pass a block to be evaluated after each and every route gets processed.

after() {

As you can see from this example, we’re asking the MyDB module to disconnect after the request has been processed.

Pattern matching

Filters optionally take a pattern to be matched against the requested URI during processing. Here’s a quick example you could use to run a contrived authenticate! method before accessing any “admin” type requests.

before("/admin/*") {

after("/admin/*") {

Processing order for actions, errors, and filters

Route actions, errors and filters run in the following order:

  1. before filters.
  2. Routes and actions.
  3. If an exception is thrown during the before filter or route actions, it is passed to the errorHandler function, and its result becomes the action result.
  4. after filters.
  5. The response is rendered.


Handlers are top-level methods available in Scalatra to take care of common HTTP routines.


There is a handler for redirection:


This will return a redirect response, with HTTP status 302, pointing to /someplace/else.

Caution: redirect is implemented as a HaltException. You probably don’t want to catch it in an action.

Although there’s no built-in handler for permanent redirects, if you’d like to do a 301 permanent redirect, you can do something like this:

halt(status = 301, headers = Map("Location" -> ""))


To immediately stop a request within a filter or route:


You can also specify the HTTP status:


Or the status and the body:

halt(403, <h1>Go away!</h1>)

Or even the HTTP status reason and headers. For more complex invocations, you can use named arguments:

halt(status = 403,
     reason = "Forbidden",
     headers = Map("X-Your-Mother-Was-A" -> "hamster",
                   "X-And-Your-Father-Smelt-Of" -> "Elderberries"),
     body = <h1>Go away or I shall taunt you a second time!</h1>)

The reason argument is ignored unless status is not null. If you don’t pass arguments for status, reason, or body, those parts of the response will be left unchanged.


A route can punt processing to the next matching route using pass(). Remember, unlike Sinatra, routes are matched from the bottom up.

get("/guess/*") {
  "You missed!"

get("/guess/:who") {
  params("who") match {
    case "Frank" => "You got me!"
    case _ => pass()

The route block is immediately exited and control continues with the next matching route. If no matching route is found, the notFound handler is invoked.

Not Found (404)

The notFound handler allows you to execute code when there is no matching route for the current request’s URL.

The default behavior is:

notFound {
  <h1>Not found. Bummer.</h1>

What happens next differs slightly based on whether you’ve set your application up using ScalatraServlet or ScalatraFilter.

  • ScalatraServlet: sends a 404 response
  • ScalatraFilter: passes the request to the servlet filter chain, which may then throw a 404 or decide to do something different with it.

Routing FAQ

How can I make Scalatra ignore trailing slashes on routes?

If you’d like foo/bar and foo/bar/ to be equivalent, simply append /? to your URL matching pattern. For example:

get("foo/bar/?") {