JSON has become the new standard for data exchange over HTTP. Working with JSON with the data types defined in javax.json is not hard, but a bit cumbersome. The TornadoFX JSON support comes
in two forms: Enhancements to the javax.json objects and functions and a specialized REST client that does HTTP as well as automatic conversion between JSON and your domain models.

To facilitate conversion between these JSON objects and your model objects, you can choose to implement the interface JsonModel and one or both of the functions updateModel and toJSON.

Later in this chapter we will introduce the REST client, but the JSON Support can also be used standalone. The REST client calls certain functions on JsonModel objects during the lifecycle of an HTTP request.

updateModel is called to convert a JSON object to your domain model. It receives a JSON object from which you can update the properties of your model object.

toJSON is called to convert your model object to a JSON payload. It receives a JsonBuilder where you can set the values of the model object.

class Person : JsonModel {
    var id by property<Int>()
    fun idProperty() = getProperty(Person::id)

    var firstName by property<String>()
    fun firstNameProperty() = getProperty(Person::firstName)

    var lastName by property<String>()
    fun lastNameProperty() = getProperty(Person::lastName)

    val phones = FXCollections.observableArrayList<Phone>()

    override fun updateModel(json: JsonObject) {
        with(json) {
            id = int("id")
            firstName = string("firstName")
            lastName = string("lastName")

    override fun toJSON(json: JsonBuilder) {
        with(json) {
            add("id", id)
            add("firstName", firstName)
            add("lastName", lastName)
            add("phones", phones.toJSON())

class Phone : JsonModel {
    var id by property<Int>()
    fun idProperty() = getProperty(Phone::id)

    var number by property<String>()
    fun numberProperty() = getProperty(Phone::number)

    override fun updateModel(json: JsonObject) {
        with(json) {
            id = int("id")
            number = string("number")

    override fun toJSON(json: JsonBuilder) {
        with(json) {
            add("id", id)
            add("number", number)

JsonModel with getters/setters and property() accessor functions to be JavaFX Property compatible

When you implement JsonModel you also get the copy function, which creates a copy of your model object.

Tornado FX also comes with special support functions for reading and writing JSON properties. Please see the bottom of Json.kt for an exhaustive list.

All the JSON retrieval functions accepts a vararg argument for the key in the JSON document. The first key available in the document will be used to retrieve the value. This makes it easier to work with slightly inconsistent JSON schemes or can be used as a ternary to provide a fallback value for example.

Configuring datetime

The datetime(key) function used to retrieve a LocalDateTime object from JSON will by default expect a value of "Seconds since epoch". If your external webservice expects "Milliseconds since epoch" instead,
you can either send datetime(key, millis = true) or configure it globally by setting JsonConfig.DefaultDateTimeMillis = true.

Generating JSON objects

The JsonBuilder is an abstraction over javax.json.JsonObjectBuilder that supports null values. Instead of blowing up, it silently dismisses the missing entry, which enables you to build your JSON object graph
more fluently without checking for nulls.

REST Client

The REST Client that makes it easy to perform JSON based REST calls. The underlying HTTP engine interface has two implementations. The default uses HttpURLConnection and there is also an implementation based on Apache HttpClient. It is easy to extend the Rest.Engine to support other http client libraries if needed.

To use the Apache HttpClient implementation, simply call Rest.useApacheHttpClient() in the init method of your App class and include the org.apache.httpcomponents:httpclient dependency in your project descriptor.


If you mostly access the same api on every call, you can set a base uri so subsequent calls only need to include relative urls. You can configure the base url anywhere you like, but the init function of your App class is a good place to do it.

class MyApp : App() {
    val api: Rest by inject()

    init {
        api.baseURI = "http://contoso.com/api"

Basic operations

There are convenience functions to perform GET, PUT, POST and DELETE operations.

class CustomerController : Controller() {
    val api = Rest by inject()

    fun loadCustomers(): ObservableList<Customer> =

CustomerController with loadCustomers call

So, what exactly is going on in the loadCustomers function? First we call api.get("customers") which will perform the call and return a Response object. We then call Response.list() which will consume the response and convert it to a javax.json.JsonArray. Lastly, we call the extension function JsonArray.toModel() which creates one Customer object per JsonObject in the array and calls JsonModel.updateModel on it. In this example, the type argument is taken from the function return type, but you could also write the above method like this if you prefer:

fun loadCustomers() = api.get("customers").list().toModel<Customer>()

How you provide the type argument to the toModel function is a matter of taste, so choose the syntax you are most comfortable with.

These functions take an optional parameter with either a JsonObject or a JsonModel that will be the payload of your request, converted to a JSON string.

The following example updates a customer object.

fun updateCustomer(customer: Customer) = api.put("customers/${customer.id}", customer)

If the api endpoint returns the customer object to us after save, we would fetch a JsonObject by calling one() and then toModel() to convert it back into our model object.

fun updateCustomer(customer: Customer) =
    api.put("customers/${customer.id}", customer).one().toModel<Customer>()

Query parameters

Query parameters needs to be URL encoded. The Map.queryString extension value will turn any map into a properly URL encoded query string:

val params = mapOf("id" to 1)
api.put("customers${params.queryString}", customer).one().toModel<Customer>()

This will call the URI customers?id=1.

Error handling

If an I/O error occurs during the processing of the request, the default Error Handler will report the error to the user. You can of course catch any errors yourself instead. To handle HTTP return codes, you might want to inspect the Response before you convert the result to JSON. Make sure you always call consume() on the response if you don't extract data from it using any of the methods list(), one(), text() or bytes().

fun getCustomer(id: Int): Customer {
    val response = api.get("some/action")

    try {
        if (response.ok())
            return response.one().toModel()
        else if (response.statusCode == 404)
            throw CustomerNotFound()
            throw MyException("getCustomer returned ${response.statusCode} ${response.reason}")
    } finally {

Extract status code and reason from HttpResponse

response.ok() is shorthand for response.statusCode == 200.


Tornado FX makes it very easy to add basic authentication to your api requests:

api.setBasicAuth("username", "password")

To configure authentication manually, configure the requestInterceptor of the engine to add custom headers etc to the request. For example, this is how the basic authentication is implemented for the HttpUrlEngine:

requestInterceptor = { request ->
    val b64 = Base64.getEncoder().encodeToString("$username:$password".toByteArray(UTF_8))
    request.addHeader("Authorization", "Basic $b64")

For a more advanced example of configuring the underlying client, take a look at how basic authentication is implemented in the HttpClientEngine.setBasicAuth function in Rest.kt.

Intercepting calls

You can for example show a login screen if an HTTP call fails with statusCode 401:

api.engine.responseInterceptor = { response ->
    if (response.statusCode == 401)
        showLoginScreen("Invalid credentials, please log in again.")

Setting timeouts

You can configure the read timeout for the default provider by using a requestInterceptor and casting the request to HttpURLRequest before yo operate on it.

api.engine.requestInterceptor = {
    (it as HttpURLRequest).connection.readTimeout = 5000

You can configure the connectionTimeout of the HTTPUrlConnection object above in the same way.

Connect to multiple API's

You can create multiple instances of the Rest class by subclassing it and configuring each subclass as you wish. Injection of subclasses work seamlessly. Override the engine property if you want to use another engine than the default.

Default engine for new Rest instances

The engine used by a new Rest client is configured with the engineProvider of the Rest class. This is what happens when you call Rest.useApacheHttpClient:

Rest.engineProvider = { rest -> HttpClientEngine(rest) }

The engineProvider returns a concrete engine implementation that is given the current Rest instance as argument.

You can override the configured engine in a Rest instance at any time.


A proxy can be configured either by implementing an interceptor that augments each call, or, preferably once per Rest client instance:

rest.proxy = Proxy(Proxy.Type.HTTP, InetSocketAddress("", 8080))

Sequence numbers

If you do multiple http calls they will not be pooled and returned in the order you executed the calls. Any http request will return as soon as it is available. If you want to handle them in sequence, or even discard older results, you can use the Response.seq value which will contain a Long sequence number.

Progress indicator

Tornado FX comes with a HTTP ProgressIndicator View. This view can be embedded in your application and will show you information about ongoing REST calls. Embed the RestProgressBar into a ToolBar or any other parent container:


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