Crate prost_twirp

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Prost Twirp

Prost Twirp is a code generator and set of utilities for calling and serving Twirp services in Rust, using the prost and hyper libraries.

Twirp is a simple cross-language framework/protocol for RPC, with services defined in Protobuf and transmitted by HTTP POST.

See usage detail below, API docs, and examples.


Prost Twirp supports the calling and the serving of Twirp services. Prost Twirp can be used in one of three ways, each explained in the following sections.

Because of the dynamically generated code and the interactions with complex Hyper types, the best way to understand the API is to read and experiment with the examples/, in particular examples/service-gen, which is the simplest.

  • As a client and/or server code generator along with a supporting runtime library. This is the simplest approach and strongly recommended.
  • As a library of utilities to help with more manual Twirp client/server invocations.

Generating Code

See examples/service-gen for a full working example.

Most of the code generation relies on prost. The prost code generator accepts a [prost_build::ServiceGenerator]. Prost Twirp provides this generator.

This walkthrough will use Twirp’s example service.proto that is also used by the Prost Twirp’s examples.

Setup the project to generate code like the prost-build docs suggest. In addition, add the following to the dependencies and build dependencies of Cargo.toml:

bytes = "1.2"
futures = "0.3"
prost = "0.11"
prost-derive = "0.11"
prost-twirp = "0.2"

version = "0.14"
features = ["client", "server", "http1", "http2", "tcp"]

version = "1.2"
features = ["macros", "net", "rt", "rt-multi-thread", "sync", "time"]

prost-build = "0.11"
prost-twirp = { features = ["service-gen"] }

This adds the supporting Prost Twirp library at runtime and the service generation support at build time. It also adds hyper, futures, and tokio that are needed to use the service at runtime. Previously, the build script code in might have been:

fn main() {
    prost_build::compile_protos(&["src/service.proto"], &["src/"]).unwrap();

That would just generate the protobuf structs, but not the service. Now change it to utilize the Prost Twirp service generator:

fn main() {
    let mut conf = prost_build::Config::new();
    conf.compile_protos(&["src/service.proto"], &["src/"]).unwrap();

Now the included file contains a service client and server. As in the prost-build docs, it can be included in

mod service {
    include!(concat!(env!("OUT_DIR"), "/"));

Generated Trait

Each protobuf service maps to a single auto-generated Rust trait, with one method corresponding to each method in the proto service interface.

The trait is implemented by an auto-generated client stub type, which translates method calls into HTTP requests to a remote Twirp server.

If you write a server, then your server will also provide an implementation of the same service trait, which when the methods are called will execute the business logic of the method: for example, making a hat.

The example service.proto contains the following service:

// A Haberdasher makes hats for clients.
service Haberdasher {
  // MakeHat produces a hat of mysterious, randomly-selected color!
  rpc MakeHat(Size) returns (Hat);

This generates the following trait in target/..../

pub trait Haberdasher: Send + Sync + 'static {
    /// MakeHat produces a hat of mysterious, randomly-selected color!
    fn make_hat(
        request: ::prost_twirp::ServiceRequest<Size>,
    ) -> ::prost_twirp::PTRes<Hat>;

impl dyn Haberdasher {
    pub fn new_client(
        client: ::hyper::Client<::hyper::client::HttpConnector, ::hyper::Body>,
        root_url: &str,
    ) -> Box<dyn Haberdasher> {
        /* ... */

    pub fn new_server<T: Haberdasher>(
        v: T,
    ) -> Box<
        dyn (::hyper::service::Service<
            Response = ::hyper::Response<::hyper::Body>,
            Error = ::hyper::Error,
            Future = ::std::pin::Pin<
                    dyn (::futures::Future<
                        Output = Result<::hyper::Response<::hyper::Body>, ::hyper::Error>,
                    >) + Send,
        >) + Send + Sync,
    > {
        /* ... */

PTRes is a boxed future service response, used by both the client and the server.

Using the Client

Creating a Prost Twirp client is just an extra step after creating the hyper::Client. Simply call the new_client static method of the generated service trait, passing the hyper client and a root URL like so:

let hyper_client = Client::new();
let service_client =
    <dyn service::Haberdasher>::new_client(hyper_client, "http://localhost:8080");

This creates and returns a boxed implementation of the Haberdasher trait. Then it can be called like so:

let res = service_client
    .make_hat(service::Size { inches: 12 }.into())
println!("Made {:?}", res.output);

Notice the into, that turns a prost protobuf object into a Prost Twirp ServiceRequest. The result is a boxed future of the ServiceResponse whose output field will contain the serialized result (in this case, service::Hat).

Any error that can happen during the call results in an errored future with the ProstTwirpError error.

Using the Server

The same trait that is used for the client is what must be implemented as a server. Here is an example implementation:

pub struct HaberdasherService;
impl service::Haberdasher for HaberdasherService {
    fn make_hat(
        req: service::ServiceRequest<service::Size>,
    ) -> service::PTRes<service::Hat> {
            service::Hat {
                size: req.input.inches,
                color: "blue".to_string(),
                name: "fedora".to_string(),

Like other Hyper services, this returns a boxed future with the protobuf value. In this case, it just generates an instance of Hat every time.

To start the service, the generated trait has a new_server method that accepts an implementation of the trait and returns a ::hyper::service::Service.

let addr = "".parse().unwrap();
let server = Server::bind(&addr)
    .serve(make_service_fn(|_conn| async {
        Ok::<_, Infallible>(<dyn service::Haberdasher>::new_server(HaberdasherService))

Note, due to some tokio service restrictions, the service implementation has to have a 'static lifetime.

Returning Errors

Errors can be returned which are in the form of a ProstTwirpError. A TwirpError, which corresponds more directly to the Twirp serialized error format can be sent back instead.

(See examples/errors for a full working example.)

Here is an example of not accepting any size outside of some bounds:

pub struct HaberdasherService;
impl service::Haberdasher for HaberdasherService {
    fn make_hat(&self, i: service::ServiceRequest<service::Size>) -> service::PTRes<service::Hat> {
        Box::pin(if i.input.inches < 1 {
                    "Size too small",
                    serde_json::to_value(MinMaxSize { min: 1, max: 10 }).ok(),
        } else if i.input.inches > 10 {
                    "Size too large",
                    serde_json::to_value(MinMaxSize { min: 1, max: 10 }).ok(),
        } else {
                service::Hat {
                    size: i.input.inches,
                    color: "blue".to_string(),
                    name: "fedora".to_string(),

Metadata in the form of a serde_json::Value can be given to a TwirpError as well.

Manual Client and Server

Instead of code generation, some of the features of Prost Twirp can be used manually. See examples/no-service-gen. In this mode the application code is responsible for URL routing and determining the right request and response type, and prost_twirp will de/serialize requests and responses.

For the client, a new HyperClient can be created with the root URL and hyper client. Then, go can be invoked with a path and a ServiceRequest for a prost-built message. The response is a boxed future of a ServiceResponse that must be typed with the expected prost-built output type. Example:


Why no JSON support?

This could be done soon, probably using pbjson.

Why does my server service impl have to be 'static?

This is due to the need to reference the service inside of static futures. See this issue. Any better solution is welcome.

What Twirp format is supported?

This crate currently implements Twirp 5. Twirp 7 could be added.


prost_twirp Release History


A wrapper for a hyper client
A wrapper for a HyperService trait that keeps a Arc version of the service.
A request with HTTP info and a proto request payload object.
A response with HTTP info and the output object as a protobuf Message.
A JSON-serializable Twirp error


An error that can occur during a call to a Twirp service


A trait for the heart of a Twirp service: responding to every service method.

Type Definitions

The type of every service response