Streaming lies at the heart of the http4s model of HTTP, in the literal sense that EntityBody[F] is just a type alias for Stream[F, Byte]. Please see entity for details. This means HTTP streaming is provided by both http4s’ service support and its client support.

Streaming responses from your service

Because EntityBody[F]s are streams anyway, returning a stream as a response from your service is simplicity itself:

import scala.concurrent.duration._

import cats.effect._
import fs2.Stream
import org.http4s._

// Provided by `cats.effect.IOApp`, needed elsewhere:
implicit val timer: Timer[IO] = IO.timer(global)
implicit val cs: ContextShift[IO] = IO.contextShift(global)

// An infinite stream of the periodic elapsed time
val seconds = Stream.awakeEvery[IO](1.second)

val routes = HttpRoutes.of[IO] {
  case GET -> Root / "seconds" =>
    Ok( // `map` `toString` because there's no `EntityEncoder` for `Duration`

Streams are returned to the client as chunked HTTP responses automatically. You don’t need to provide the header yourself.

For a more realistic example of streaming results from database queries to the client, please see the ScalaSyd 2015 example. In particular, if you want to stream JSON responses, please take note of how it converts a stream of JSON objects to a JSON array, which is friendlier to clients.

Consuming streams with the client

The http4s client supports consuming chunked HTTP responses as a stream, again because the EntityBody[F] is a stream anyway. http4s’ Client interface consumes streams with the streaming function, which takes a Request[F] and a Response[F] => Stream[F, A] and returns a Stream[F, A]. Since an EntityBody[F] is just a Stream[F, Byte], then, the easiest way to consume a stream is just:

That gives you a Stream[F, Byte], but you probably want something other than a Byte. Here’s some code intended to consume Twitter’s streaming APIs, which return a stream of JSON.

First, let’s assume we want to use Circe for JSON support. Please see json for details.

libraryDependencies ++= Seq(
  "org.http4s" %% "http4s-circe" % "0.21.32",
  "io.circe" %% "circe-generic" % "0.13.0"

Next, we want streaming JSON. Because http4s is streaming in its bones, it relies on jawn for streaming JSON support. Most popular JSON libraries, including Circe, provide jawn support, as the code below shows. What’s left is to integrate jawn’s streaming parsing with fs2’s Stream. That’s done by jawn-fs2, which http4s’ Circe module depends on transitively.

Because Twitter’s Streaming APIs literally return a stream of JSON objects, not a JSON array, we want to use jawn-fs2’s parseJsonStream.

Finally, Twitter’s Streaming APIs also require OAuth authentication. So our example is an OAuth example as a bonus!

Putting it all together into a small app that will print the JSON objects forever:

import org.http4s._
import org.http4s.client.blaze._
import org.http4s.client.oauth1
import org.http4s.implicits._
import cats.effect._
import fs2.Stream
import fs2.text.{lines, utf8Encode}
import io.circe.Json
import jawnfs2._

class TWStream[F[_]: ConcurrentEffect : ContextShift] {
  // jawn-fs2 needs to know what JSON AST you want
  implicit val f = new io.circe.jawn.CirceSupportParser(None, false).facade

  /* These values are created by a Twitter developer web app.
   * OAuth signing is an effect due to generating a nonce for each `Request`.
  def sign(consumerKey: String, consumerSecret: String, accessToken: String, accessSecret: String)
          (req: Request[F]): F[Request[F]] = {
    val consumer = oauth1.Consumer(consumerKey, consumerSecret)
    val token    = oauth1.Token(accessToken, accessSecret)
    oauth1.signRequest(req, consumer, callback = None, verifier = None, token = Some(token))

  /* Create a http client, sign the incoming `Request[F]`, stream the `Response[IO]`, and
   * `parseJsonStream` the `Response[F]`.
   * `sign` returns a `F`, so we need to `Stream.eval` it to use a for-comprehension.
  def jsonStream(consumerKey: String, consumerSecret: String, accessToken: String, accessSecret: String)
            (req: Request[F]): Stream[F, Json] =
    for {
      client <- BlazeClientBuilder(global).stream
      sr  <- Stream.eval(sign(consumerKey, consumerSecret, accessToken, accessSecret)(req))
      res <-
    } yield res

  /* Stream the sample statuses.
   * Plug in your four Twitter API values here.
   * We map over the Circe `Json` objects to pretty-print them with `spaces2`.
   * Then we `to` them to fs2's `lines` and then to `stdout` `Sink` to print them.
  def stream(blocker: Blocker): Stream[F, Unit] = {
    val req = Request[F](Method.GET, uri"")
    val s   = jsonStream("<consumerKey>", "<consumerSecret>", "<accessToken>", "<accessSecret>")(req)

  /** Compile our stream down to an effect to make it runnable */
  def run: F[Unit] =
    Stream.resource(Blocker[F]).flatMap { blocker =>

TWStream runs any effect type supported by cats-effect. We need to pick a concrete effect, such as cats.effect.IO, to actually run it. We’ll make use of cats.effect.IOApp, which defines a program in terms in the form run(args: List[String]): IO[ExitCode]:

object TWStreamApp extends IOApp {
  def run(args: List[String]) =
    (new TWStream[IO])