Routing Quick Reference


The library io.pedestal.http.route namespace provides the core components to express routes and construct routers. It can be used independently of the pedestal-service library.

Route Specifications vs. Routers vs. Routing Interceptor

Routing is the process of recognizing an incoming request, and matching it to a particular behavior. A route identifies a particular request path and request method (such as :get or :post) and identifies corresponding behavior in terms of a handler function, or a list of interceptors to execute.

Route specifications are the data values that spell out the possible routes.

Routers are built from route specifications, and apply a specific strategy to match incoming requests to the provided routes; there are a few different built-in Router implementations, with different limitations and trade-offs.

The routing interceptor builds on a router to dispatch incoming requests to routes defined by the route specification. It identifies the route matching the incoming request and queues up route-specific interceptors to handle the request.

Generally, all of this is automatic; an application provides a route specification in the :io.pedestal.http/route key of the service map (and perhaps a value for :io.pedestal.http/router) and a routing interceptor is automatically created.

Route Specifications

Route specifications go through a series of transformations that results in a routing table; a routing table is a sequence of verbose routing maps.

The expand-routes function converts any kind of specification into a routing table:

Argument to expand-routes Syntax used


Table Syntax - most recent and straight forward; trades some redundancy for simplicity, and is recommended in most cases.


Terse Syntax - improvement on the verbose syntax, with an emphasis on avoiding redundancy.


Verbose Syntax - oldest format.

This mapping from value type to specification type is the responsibility of the ExpandableRoutes protocol, which is extended on Map, Set, and Vector.

To support a new syntax, come up with a syntax that resolves to new record type that implements the ExpandableRoutes protocol.

Routing Table

The expanded routing table is a list of maps, each with the following structure:

   :app-name   :example-app        ; optional
   :path       "/user/:id/*blah"   ; like Ruby on Rails
                                   ; (catch-all route is "/*path")
   :method     :post               ; or :any, :get, :put, ...
   :scheme     :https              ; optional
   :host       ""       ; optional
   :port       "8080"              ; optional
   :interceptors [...]             ; vector of interceptors to be enqueued on the context

   ;; Generated for path-matching:
   :path-re           #"/\Quser\E/([^/]+)/(.+)"
   :path-parts        ["user" :id :blah]
   :path-params       [:id :blah]
   :path-constraints  {:id "([^/]+)"
                       :blah "(.+)"}
   :query-constraints {:name #".+"
                       :search #"[0-9]+"}

:route-name must be unique; typically it is a qualified keyword to ensure uniqueness.

The keys :path-re, :path-parts, :path-params, and :path-constraints are derived from the :path. This is part of what the expand-routes function is responsible for.

Users will not generally write routes directly in verbose format.

Builtin Routers

Pedestal includes several Routers; this reflects not only the evolution of the Pedestal library, but also allows for different trade-offs in the algorithm used by each Router. In rare cases, an application can provide its own Router rather than use one of Pedestal’s.

When your application starts a Pedestal service with create-servlet or create-server, Pedestal creates a router, using the following keys from the service map:

Key Meaning


A route specification


Key to select a router, or a function that constructs a router from a routing table

When the value of :io.pedestal.http/router is a keyword, it selects one of the built-in algorithms:

Keyword Router Performance Scaling in # Routes Limitations


Map Tree (default)

Very fast


Applies when all routes are static (no wild cards). Falls back to prefix tree if any routes have path parameters or wildcards.


Prefix Tree

High performance, space efficient


Wildcard routes always win over explicit paths in the same subtree. E.g., /path/:wild will always match, even if /path/user is defined


Linear Search

Lowest performance


Routes are checked in order. Precedence is precise.

Custom Router

When the value of :io.pedestal.http/router is a function, that function is used to construct a router. The function must take one argument: the fully expanded routing table. The constructor function must return a value that satisfies the Router protocol.

So the function is passed the routing table and returns a Router for those routes. The Router is supplied with the incoming request, and returns the matching route map (a verbose route map extended with extracted parameters from the path).

Routing Interceptor

The function router is where it all comes together; this function is passed the route specification and, optionally, the router type; from that it creates the routing table, and passes that through the correct constructor, obtaining at the end an interceptor that performs routing, which it returns.

During request execution, on a successful routing, the following keys are added or updated in the context map:

Key / Key Path Value


The verbose route map


route-specific interceptors are queued

[:request :path-parameters]

Path parameters extracted from the request path

On failure, when the router does not match any route, the context key :route is set to nil.