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0.9.2 • Public • Published


Smaller, lighter, faster framework for REST APIs.

Lean and fast for low-latency micro-services where overhead is important. Depending on the app, can serve 20k requests / second or more.

There are not a lot of frills, but provides route mapping, route decoding, pre-, post- and per-route middleware stacks. Errors are caught and converted into HTTP 500 responses. Unmapped routes return 405 errors. The calls themselves can return any HTTP status code.

Optionally some restify compatibility. I was able to swap out restify in a fairly complex app and have all its unit tests pass, and the app runs 40-50% more calls per second on restiq than on restify.

var restiq = require('restiq');
var app = restiq.createServer();

app.addRoute('GET', '/', function(req, res, next) {
    res.end('Hello, world.');


Why yet another framework? I wanted

  • to run as fast the node built-in http.createServer() (or faster; see below)
  • user-defined output formats (tbd)
  • different output formats call by call (tbd)
  • fewer built-ins in favor of more add-ons
  • to better understand the components of nodejs web service implementations, and there is no better way to learn than by doing


A small echo server, parses and returns the url query parameters:

  • restiq - 20.9k/s
  • http - 17.6k/s
  • express - 7.9k/s
  • restify - 4.6k/s (8k/s using just the http methods)
  • hapi - 0.2k/s* (1.8k/s with setNoDelay()) (loop over the hapi sockets hashed in reply.request.connection._connections)

* - there is a res.write() issue with http.ServerResponse. Calls writing or piping the response run at precisely 25 requests/second per connection. It is very easily reproducible; the fix is to turn off the Nagle algorithm on the response socket with res.socket.setNoDelay().


A web service responds to requests sent to pathname-like addresses ("routes"). The server extracts the request parameters, looks up the computation associated with the route, runs it, and returns the generated response.

Parameters can be embedded in the request path itself (path parameters), appended to the path in HTTP query string format (a ? followed by '&'-separated name=value pairs, eg ?a=1&b=2), or be in the request body in HTTP query string format or some other serialization format eg JSON or BSON. Restiq knows about path params and on-path and in-body HTTP query params.

The computation is composed of a series of steps (the "middleware stack"), each step a function taking the request, the response thus far, and a callback to call to indicate that the step is finished, (req, res, next). The steps are run in sequence, each called after the preceding one has finished.

The steps are highly configurable. They can be run on a route-by-route basis or in common to all routes. Steps in common can be either before or after the per-route steps. In addition, steps can be configured to run after all other processing is complete even in case of errors.

The restiq request and responses are just node http.IncomingMessage and http.ServerResponse objects.

Restiq includes a thin compatibility layer for shimming simple restify applications onto restiq.


Surprisingly, it is possible to build on top of http and achieve better throughput than a canonical http server as shown below. Because RegExps are very fast in node, extracting path params is only 5% slower. (Timed with node-v0.10.29 on an AMD 3.6 GHz 4x Phenom II.)

Canonical server using http:

var http = require('http');
var querystring = require('querystring');
var server = http.createServer(function(req, res) { = "";
    req.on('data', function(chunk) { += chunk; });
    req.on('end', function() {
        var url = req.url, qs = url.indexOf('?');
        if (qs >= 0) req.params = querystring.parse(url.slice(qs+1));
        res.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'application/json'});
server.listen(1337, '');
// 17.6k/s  wrk -d8s -t2 -c8 'http://localhost:1337/echo?a=1'

With restiq:

var restiq = require('restiq');
var app = restiq.createServer({readImmediate: 0});
app.addRoute('GET', '/echo', [
    function(req, res, next) {
        res.writeHeader(200, {'Content-Type': 'application/json'});
// 20.9k/s  wrk -d8s -t2 -c8 'http://localhost:1337/echo?a=1'

With restify:

var restify = require('restify');
var app = restify.createServer();
app.get('/echo', function(req, res, next) {
    res.send(200, req.params);
// 4.6k/s  wrk -d8s -t2 -c8 'http://localhost:1337/echo?a=1'

Change just the first two lines to run it under restiq:

var restify = require('restiq');
var app = restify.createServer({restify: true});
// ...
// 16.2k/s  wrk -d8s -t2 -c8 'http://localhost:1337/echo?a=1'


restiq( options )

restiq.createServer( options )

Create a new app. The createServer method returns a newly created app with no routes and no middleware steps that is not yet listening for connections. restiq() as a function is not a constructor but a builder, it creates a new app just like createServer does. (Being a builder is similar to express, createServer is similar to http and restify)

The options:

  • debug - include stack traces in error responses. Be cautious about sending backtraces off-site.

  • setNoDelay - turn off Nagle write-combining on the current socket. This can greatly reduce call latency when responses use write() over an internal low-latency network. Do NOT disable Nagle for responses sent over the public internet.

  • restify - make the response have methods res.send for easier compatibility with restify. This eats into the throughput some, so use only as needed.

  • createServer - the function to use to create the server. It will be called with the function(req, res) that processes web requests. Exposed for testing, this defaults to http.createServer.

  • readBinary - when reading the request body, gather the chunks into a Buffer instead of a utf8 string. Gathering to string is faster, but Buffers are more traditional for binary data.

  • readImmediate - when reading the request body, the loop can iterate with different strategies. If set to 0 (the default), it uses setTimeout which supports the highest throughput under load. Set to 1 for setImmediate and the highest throughput with just a few active connections. Set to 2 for on('data'), which is in between the two -- not as fast as the others, but not as slow either. As a rule of thumb, at 8 active connections or above 0 (setTimeout) will offer the highest throughput.

      var restiq = require('restiq');
      var app = restiq.createServer(options);

app.listen( port, [hostname], [backlog], [confirmationCallback] )

Start the service. If given, confirmationCallback will be invoked when the service is ready to receive requests. Hostname and backlog as for http.createServer.

app.setErrorHandler( onError(req, res, err, next) )

Use the provided onError function to handle middleware errors. The default error handler extracts an http status code from err, else returns a 500 Internal Server Error response.

app.addStep( func, [where] )

Add a processing step to the middleware stack. Each step is a function step(req, res, next) taking request, response and a next-step callback. func is a step function or an array of step functions. The optional where specifies in which section of the middleware chain to insert the step; the default is 'use'.

The middleware sections are:

  • setup, shared steps before the call is routed
  • use, partially shared steps before the route handlers are run
  • (the route handlers, installed with addRoute)
  • after, shared steps after the call successfully finished
  • finally, shared steps run in every case after all other steps have finished

Middleware steps are run in the above section order, and steps within a section are run in the order added. Shared steps are run by all calls. Use steps are partially shared, and are run by only those routes that were added after the use step had already been added. I.e. if use step and routes are added interleaved, not all routes will run all use steps; all routes will run those use steps that are added before the first route is added. The route handler steps are defined per route and added with addRoute().

The setup steps provide an opportunity to edit the route, i.e. implement route aliasing, version mapping, etc. The use and route steps implement the call processing proper. The after steps are for shared post-call wrapup, for successful calls. The finally steps are run as the call teardown, and can do the logging, analytics reporting, etc.

app.addRoute( method, path, [options], handlers )

Register a path along with a middleware step function (or array of functions) to handle requests for it. Returns a route object that can be used to remove and re-add the route. Requesting a path that has not been registered or calling a path with a different GET, POST, etc request method than it was registered with results in a 405 error.

Paths can embed named parameters, denoted with /:paramName. Named parameters are extracted and stored into req.params (see also below).

For restify compatibility, mapped routes execute those use steps that existed when the route was mapped. In the sequence use, use, map(1), use, map(2), calls that request route 1 will run only the first two use steps, but calls that request route 2 will run all three. All calls will run all finally steps (if any).


  • TBD; none right now.

app.removeRoute( route )

Remove a previously added route. The removed route can be re-added later with addRoute(route).

app.mapRoute( method, path )

For internal use, look up the route for the call.

The mapped route includes the requested path, the matching route name, the tail of the query string with the query parameters, any named parameter vars included, and the list of handlers to run for this request.

For example:

app.addRoute('GET', '/:color/echo', echoColor)
app.mapRoute('GET', '/green/echo?a=1&b=2')
// => {
//   path: '/green/echo?a=1&b=2',
//   name: '/:color/echo',
//   tail: '?a=1&b=2',
//   vars: {color: "green"},
//   handlers: [echoColor]
// }

Note getting the route extracts only the path params; the query string params can be gotten with

A library of pre-written middleware utility functions. Each middleware is also exposed through a configurable factory function. req, res, next )

Merge the query string parameters into req.params. buildParseQueryParams() returns this middleware function. req, res, next )

Merge the parameters embedded in the request path into req.params. This is done automatically as soon as the route is mapped, but explicit param parsing can override these values. Re-merging allows control of the param source precedence. buildParseRouteParams() returns this middleware function. req, res, next )

Merge the query parameters from the body into req.params. Will read the body with if it has not been read already. buildParseBodyParams(options) returns this middleware function.

Options as for buildReadBody. req, res, next )

Gather up the message that was sent with the http request, and save it in req.body. This call is safe to call more than once, but sets body only the first time.

buildReadBody(options) returns the readBody middleware function.


  • maxBodySize - The maximum request body size to allow, in bytes. Exceeding this value results in a 400 Bad Request error response. There is no limit set by default. req, res, next )

Reads and discards request body to force the end event on the request. buildDiscardBody() returns this middleware function. req, res, next )

If the request body is guaranteed to be empty, it is faster to skip waiting for the on('end') event. Be careful when using this: if the request has a body it needs to be consumed. buildSkipBody returns this middleware function.

Restify Compatibility Layer

This is what I have so far --

app.pre( func )

Add shared middleware step to be called before every request, before the request is routed. Pre steps are called in the order added.

app.use( func )

Add shared middleware step to be called before every request after the pre() steps have all finished. Each routed call will run only those use steps that existed at the time it was added; use steps added after a route is added will not be run by that route. Use steps are run in the order added.

app.get( path, handler, [handler2, ...] )

Add a GET route, with handlers to run in the order listed path, handler, [handler2, ...] )

Add a POST route, with handlers to run in the order listed

app.put( path, handler, [handler2, ...] )

Add a PUT route, with handlers to run in the order listed

app.delete( path, handler, [handler2, ...] )

Add a DELETE route, with handlers to run in the order listed. This call is also available as app.del.

restiq.queryParser( )

Returns a middleware function(req, res, next) that will extract the http query string parameters and place them in req.params

restiq.authorizationParser( )

Returns a middleware function(req, res, next) that will decode an Authorization: Basic header and set the fields req.authorization.username, req.authorization.basic.username and req.authorization.basic.password.

restiq.bodyParser( )

Returns a middleware function(req, res, next) that will decode the request body into an object, string or Buffer. The decoding is ad-hoc based on the incoming data type, and is not driven by the request headers.

restiq.acceptParser( )

Sets the response content-encoding to the preferred (first) acceptable response type specified in the request that is supported by the server. Restiq assumes the acceptable encodings are listed in order of preference. Throws a 406 Not Acceptable error if no match is found.

req.getId( )

returns the request id contained in the request headers. Unlike restify, restiq uses a dash - if can't find one, and does not make one up.

req.version( )

Returns the options.version string that was passed to createServer().

req.header( name, [defaultValue] )

Return the named header field, or defaultValue if that header field was not specified in the request.

req.path( )

Returns req.url.

res.header( name, value )

Set a header value, aka writeHeader.

res.get( name )

Read back a set header value.

res.send( [statusCode], [response] )

Send a response. The default status code is 200, the default response the empty string. The call determines the content type from the response value, and emits an appropriate header as well. NOTE: restify strongly penalizes a response that does not set the Content-Type header. Time it yourself.

Turns out restify responses are also extensions of http.ServerResponse, so all the usual write(), writeHead(), end() work as well.


Random observations on building fast REST services

  • nodejs http has a speed-of-light of around 27k queries per second (empty request body, plaintext response)
  • having to assemble the body from the chunks limits http to under 24.5k/s (that's if not also parsing request params)
  • using req.on('data') to assemble the body drops the ceiling to under 19k/s. It is much faster to in an setTimeout loop than to wait for events. Actual times are sensitive to node version, so check.
  • query string params are faster to use than REST path params (because routing for static paths is a single hash lookup, vs a for loop over a list of regexp objects). Even though path params are faster to extract with a regexp than parsing the query string, it does not make up for the routing latency.
  • this may be obvious, but passing just path or just query params is faster than passing both
  • using res.write() to reply imposes a throttle of 25 requests per connection. Workaround is to set res.socket.setNoDelay() to disable the TCP/IP Nagle algorithm. Only disable for local traffic, never across the internet.


  • make sure that buffers are concatinated and returned as buffers

  • compat: res._body should be set to the send() object, not the stringified copy

  • if route not found, look in a "method-less" routes table to customize error "route not mapped" vs "POST not mapped"

  • make configurable what error to return on "route not mapped" (ie, restify 405 Method Not Allowed vs generic 404 Not Found)

  • unit tests

  • expose internal functions for testability

  • would be handy to have decodeReqBody for decoding JSON and BSON request bodies

  • would be handy to have encodeResBody for encoding JSON and BSON response bodies

  • describe the built-in restify compatibily adapter

  • make restiq apps emit the underlying http server events

  • make RestifyqRest only relay events if listened for (to maintain correct semantics)

  • write buildRequireParams(opts) that returns a middleware function that looks for required/optional/unknown params

  • double-check the restify compatibility calls, only pass the arguments that exist! else code that uses arguments.length will break

  • make request processing time out to close the connection (w/o response) after ? 60 sec ?

  • add app.set(), app.get(), app.delete() methods for key/value properties

  • app.use() has a two-argument form? (path, handler) ? (

  • missing app.head() method

  • key off of "Accept: text/plain" etc headers for encoding format to use

  • ? allow routing regexp routes ?

  • handle both base64 and json-array Buffer (binary) data

  • should support gzipped responses, 'Accept-Encoding: gzip' (chunked only!)

  • expose reg.log to mw functions

  • split rlib into misc and mw

  • (Q: how to pass app state in to steps? attach app to req? or ...cleaner?)

  • ? accept routeName handlers, to hand off to another call (... conditionally??)

  • compat: look for Accept-Version: header (and InvalidVersion error)

  • res.send() should use registered formatters (default is built-in auto-detect)

  • separate output formatting from Content-Type: allow for a post-formatting step to subsequently change the content type. Look for _isFormatted = true. This also allows for pluggable mw formatters, for per-call formats (eg, json for data, plaintext for metadata)

  • compat: re-emit all events from http.Server

  • compat: emit restify error events, see #Server+Api

  • compat: expose address(), listen(), close()

  • compat: make parsed query params available in req.query

  • speed: time w/ bunyan vs w/ qlogger (close, 1820 vs 1750 4% restiq, 1177 vs 1066 8% restify)

  • revisit send(), support headers

  • save the response err to be available in finally steps

  • ? save the response body to be available in finally steps

  • alias the more common restify errors

  • support express app.locals and res.locals

  • add disable/enable/disabled methods on .restiq, for app state (express compat)

  • make app.* calls chainable (eg app.addRoute(), etc)

  • make case-insensitive routing an option (downcase path)

  • populate req.query et al

  • make readBinary a call-by-call option? eg readBodyBinary vs readBodyText

  • make routing a mw step, to help w/ path rewriting (to route, edit, re-route)

  • support limit on max request size? (error out if too big)

  • call versioning

  • time koa, meteor, (sails = express,) derby, socketstream mvc frameworks

Related Work:


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