Compression can allow us to make smart tradeoffs between IO and CPU. This is necessarily protocol-specific, because different protocols use compression in different ways. Finagle’s approach to compression is that once it’s configured, customers shouldn’t need to think about it–aside the configuration setup, and marking messages as compressed or not in some protocols, it should behave the same way as if you were sending uncompressed messages.


In HTTP, we compress messages according to the HTTP spec, using the Accept-Encoding and Content-Encoding headers. However, the application doesn’t need to interpret either of them manually. By default, servers will compress messages with text-like `Content-Type`s, but nothing else. By default, clients will decompress the messages it knows how to decompress automatically.

To set up compression, All the application needs to do is configure Http.Client#withDecompression and Http.Server#withDecompression or Http.Server#withCompressionLevel. -1 is the default compression level, and will only compress messages with text-like `Content-Type`s. Although the HTTP spec does not officially support server-side decompression, some clients can send compressed HTTP requests, so we support that behavior.

import com.twitter.finagle.{Http, Service}
import com.twitter.finagle.http.{Request, Response}

def bigPayloadService: Service[Request, Response] = ???
val server = Http.server
  .serve(":8080", bigPayloadService)
val client = Http.client
  .withDecompression(enabled = true)

This will set up a server, and a client that can talk to it. When the client sets the Accept-Encoding header (or com.twitter.finagle.http.Fields.AcceptEncoding), the server will know that it’s safe to compress the response, using the encoding that’s specified in the Accept-Encoding, and it will compress the response and set the Content-Encoding header.

Note that on the server-side, we don’t strip the Accept-Encoding header when handing it to your service implementation. This means that HTTP proxies should manually strip the Accept-Encoding header if they don’t want to propagate it to the next hop. If compression is enabled on a server, setting the Content-Encoding header in the response means that the server will not attempt to compress the response. On the client-side, the Content-Encoding header will be dropped after the message is decoded, and will be preserved if the client does not decode it, whether it is because it is not configured to decode it or because it is unable to do so.

Out of the box, Finagle supports “gzip” and “deflate”.


ThriftMux supports a different kind of compression, which is for the entire ThriftMux session, not just an individual message. This has significant benefits in terms of being able to compress data better, since the dictionary that you use for compressing can collect more data on how to compress for your mix of data.

ThriftMux negotiates compression in the Mux handshake, where the client and the server can each say which protocols they are willing to use to compress, for messages from the client to the server, and separately for messages from the server to the client.

The three modes of compression are Off, Accepted and Desired. If one of the peers sets their mode as Off, they will not compress the session. If either of the peers sets their mode as Desired, and the other is either Accepted or Desired and both peers can agree on at least one compression format, then they will compress the stream. If a peer sets their mode as Accepted, it means that it is able to compress (or decompress, as the case may be) using the specified compression formats.

The default configured compression format is Off, so enabling compression means that you need to configure it as Accepted or Desired as appropriate. Here’s what configuring it looks like:

import com.twitter.finagle.ThriftMux
import com.twitter.finagle.mux.transport.{Compression, CompressionLevel}

val compressor = Seq(Compression.lz4Compressor(highCompression = false))
val decompressor = Seq(Compression.lz4Decompressor())
val compressionLevel = CompressionLevel.Desired

def bigPayload: BigPayload.MethodPerEndpoint = ???
val server = ThriftMux.server
  .withCompressionPreferences.compression(compressionLevel, compressor)
  .withCompressionPreferences.decompression(compressionLevel, decompressor)
  .serveIface(":8080", bigPayload)
val client = ThriftMux.client
  .withCompressionPreferences.compression(compressionLevel, compressor)
  .withCompressionPreferences.decompression(compressionLevel, decompressor)

Currently, lz4 is the only supported compression format for ThriftMux. If you would like to use compression, you should add a dependency on the lz4-java library.