One of the optional capabilities (represented as WebSockets) that a backend can support are websockets (see backends summary). Websocket requests are described exactly the same as regular requests, starting with basicRequest, adding headers, specifying the request method and uri.

A websocket request will be sent instead of a regular one if the response specification includes handling the response as a websocket. A number of asWebSocket(...) methods are available, giving a couple of variants of working with websockets.

Using WebSocket

The first possibility is using sttp.client3.ws.WebSocket[F], where F is the backend-specific effects wrapper, such as Future or IO. It contains two basic methods, both of which use the F effect to return results:

  • def receive: F[WebSocketFrame] which will complete once a message is available, and return the next incoming frame (which can be a data, ping, pong or close)

  • def send(f: WebSocketFrame, isContinuation: Boolean = false): F[Unit], which sends a message to the websocket. The WebSocketFrame companion object contains methods for creating binary/text messages. When using fragmentation, the first message should be sent using finalFragment = false, and subsequent messages using isContinuation = true.

The WebSocket trait also contains other methods for receiving only text/binary messages, as well as automatically sending Pong responses when a Ping is received.

The following response specifications which use WebSocket[F] are available (the first type parameter of ResponseAs specifies the type returned as the response body, the second - the capabilities that the backend is required to support to send the request):

import sttp.client3._
import sttp.capabilities.{Effect, WebSockets}
import sttp.model.ResponseMetadata
import sttp.ws.WebSocket

def asWebSocket[F[_], T](f: WebSocket[F] => F[T]): 
  ResponseAs[Either[String, T], Effect[F] with WebSockets] = ???

def asWebSocketWithMetadata[F[_], T](
      f: (WebSocket[F], ResponseMetadata) => F[T]
  ): ResponseAs[Either[String, T], Effect[F] with WebSockets] = ???

def asWebSocketAlways[F[_], T](f: WebSocket[F] => F[T]): 
  ResponseAs[T, Effect[F] with WebSockets] = ???

def asWebSocketAlwaysWithMetadata[F[_], T](
      f: (WebSocket[F], ResponseMetadata) => F[T]
  ): ResponseAs[T, Effect[F] with WebSockets] = ???

def asWebSocketUnsafe[F[_]]: 
  ResponseAs[Either[String, WebSocket[F]], Effect[F] with WebSockets] = ???

def asWebSocketUnsafeAlways[F[_]]: 
  ResponseAs[WebSocket[F], Effect[F] with WebSockets] = ???

The first variant, asWebSocket, passes an open WebSocket to the user-provided function. This function should return an effect which completes, once interaction with the websocket is finished. The backend can then safely close the websocket. The value that’s returned as the response body is either an error (represented as a String), in case the websocket upgrade didn’t complete successfully, or the value returned by the websocket-interacting method.

The second variant (asWebSocketAlways) is similar, but any errors due to failed websocket protocol upgrades are represented as failed effects (exceptions).

The remaining two variants return the open WebSocket directly, as the response body. It is then the responsibility of the client code to close the websocket, once it’s no longer needed.

See also the examples, which include examples involving websockets.

Using streams

Another possibility is to work with websockets by providing a streaming stage, which transforms incoming data frames into outgoing frames. This can be e.g. an Akka Flow or a fs2 Pipe.

The following response specifications are available:

import sttp.client3._
import sttp.capabilities.{Streams, WebSockets}
import sttp.ws.WebSocketFrame

def asWebSocketStream[S](s: Streams[S])(p: s.Pipe[WebSocketFrame.Data[_], WebSocketFrame]): 
  ResponseAs[Either[String, Unit], S with WebSockets] = ???

def asWebSocketStreamAlways[S](s: Streams[S])(p: s.Pipe[WebSocketFrame.Data[_], WebSocketFrame]): 
  ResponseAs[Unit, S with WebSockets] = ???

Using streaming websockets requires the backend to support the given streaming capability (see also streaming). Streaming capabilities are described as implementations of Streams[S], and are provided by backend implementations, e.g. AkkaStreams or Fs2Streams[F].

When working with streams of websocket frames keep in mind that a text payload maybe fragmented into multiple frames. sttp provides two useful methods (fromTextPipe, fromTextPipeF) for each backend to aggregate these fragments back into complete messages. These methods can be found in corresponding WebSockets classes for given effect type:

effect type

class name








For those who plan to use a lot of websocket traffic, you could consider websocket compression. See the information on configuring individual backends for more information.

Implementation-specific configuration

OkHttp based backends

  • supports compression (default: not enabled)

akka-http backend

Compression is not yet available, to track Akka developments in this area, see this issue.

async-http-client based backends (deprecated)


Note that the async-http-client is no longer maintained, thus backends based on it should not be used in the new projects.

Web socket settings can be adjusted by providing a custom AsyncHttpClientConfig, which can be created using new DefaultAsyncHttpClientConfig.Builder().

Some available settings:

  • maximum web socket frame size. Default: 10240, can be changed using .setWebSocketMaxFrameSize.

  • compression. Default: false, can be changed using: .setEnablewebSocketCompression.