Actix Web Auto Docs with Utoipa & Swagger-UI


So you’ve made your shiny new server with all these fancy Endpoints. Now comes the question, How do you tell someone what to access? You could write your own documentation, but that would take far too long, and you would be prone to making errors. A much better solution is to generate the docs from the code you’ve already written.

Such is the solution utoipa provides. It describes your endpoints in the OpenAPI standard in JSON, so it can be consumed by a suitable front-end. A front-end like SwaggerUI will display your endpoints so that it can consumed by a user with relative ease. We can bring SwaggerUI onto our server with the utoipa-swagger-ui crate, and it would look like this:

SwaggerUI with endpoints

SwaggerUI Making a HTTP Request to the described endpoint


The only limitation we’ve come across is that swagger cannot send GET requests with a request body. You’ll have to use query parameters or change it to a POST method.

Actix Web Setup

We’ll being using actix_web but you could just as easily use axum, warp, tide or rocket. The entire project we setup here is available at this Github Repo. This is the structure we’ll be following:

 src
├──           # authentication extractors
├──        # endpoints go here
├──           # server setup
├──   # swagger setup
└──          # types w/ some swagger setup

File structure for our actix server

We have the following endpoints setup:

  • GET /v1/ – hello world example
  • GET /v1/auth – authenticated hello world example
  • POST /v1/create – basic post request which returns request
  • DELETE /v1/delete/{email} – basic delete request which returns request

Utoipa Setup

we’ll be adding our 2 crates with actix integration features. Additionally we’ll also enable debug-embed in utoipa-swagger-ui so the docs endpoint is included in debug builds as well.

$ cargo add utoipa -F "actix_web"
$ cargo add utoipa-swagger-ui -F "actix_web debug-embed"

Cargo commands to add utoipa and utpia-swagger-ui

Next in the file we’ll add the documentation struct ApiDoc. This struct will derive OpenAPI proc macro, which will be used to create our openapi.json file which will be used by swagger.

    tags((name = "BasicAPI", description = "A very Basic API")),
pub struct ApiDoc;

ApiDoc struct

We’ve also added a couple of attributes as well:

  • paths – this is where we add our defined endpoints, so it shows up in the json.
  • components
    • schemas – where we add out type definitions. More on this later.
  • tags – information about the APIs
  • modifiers – We can pass in a struct that implements the Modify trait, which allows us to modify OpenAPI at runtime. We’ll be using this to add security setup, more on this later.

Auth Security

Our GET /v1/auth endpoint uses a bearer token. Utoipa allows us to define this which gives us a convenient way to set it for endpoints that require it. We’ll pass the SecurityAddon struct to modifiers attribute like so:

struct SecurityAddon;
impl Modify for SecurityAddon {
    fn modify(&self, openapi: &mut openapi::OpenApi) {
        // NOTE: we can unwrap safely since there already is components registered.
        let components = openapi.components.as_mut().unwrap();

SecurityAddon Struct Implementing Modify Trait

We can add a security scheme called Token, and its type of HttpAuthScheme::Bearer. When documenting our endpoints, we can specify which security the endpoint requires using the name we provide (in this case “Token”).

Swagger UI Authorisation


Before we begin documenting our endpoints, we’ll define our types so it can be parsed and displayed on swagger.


Query Parameters just require the IntoParams trait to be derived. We’ll also add doc comments to define so their descriptions get ported to into json as well.

#[derive(IntoParams, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
pub struct DeleteRequest {
    /// Delete Permanently ?
    pub permanent: Option<bool>,

    /// when to delete ?
    pub when: Option<u64>,

    /// height of shamlessness (cuz its funny)
    pub height: u64,

Defining Query Parameters using a struct


When defining our Endpoints we can pass the path variables & query parameters in the params attribute like so:

        ("email" = String, Path, description = "Device UUID"),
async fn get_user(...) -> HttpResponse {...}

Defining params in utoipa::path proc macro

Query and Path Parameters on an endpoint in SwaggerUI

Structs & Objects

All structs that are going to be used for request or response will require the ToSchema trait to be derived (including the structs used within your structs!). Additionally these structs should be included in schemas attribute in the file.

#[derive(ToSchema, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
pub struct PostRequest {
    pub name: String,

#[derive(ToSchema, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
pub struct PostResponse {
    pub status: String,

Deriving ToSchema on structs


Suppose we have these Generic Structs:

#[derive(ToSchema, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
pub struct GenericResponse <T> {
    pub msg: String,
    pub data: T,

#[derive(ToSchema, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
pub struct GenericRequest <T, V> {
    pub params: Option <T>,
    pub data: Option <V>,

GenericResponse and GenericRequest Structs

utoipa can’t parse these without defining an alias. Therefore to define GenericResponse<PostResponse> you would have to add the aliases attribute:

#[derive(ToSchema, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
    GenericPostResponse = GenericResponse<PostResponse>,
    GenericStringResponse = GenericResponse<String>
pub struct GenericResponse <T> {
    pub msg: String,
    pub data: T,

Aliases for Generic Structs

Just like with normal structs, you’ll have to import this alias type to schemas attribute, as well as the specified type (in this case PostResponse).

Sometimes you’ll want to pass in a void type (). This can be done using the utoipa::TupleUnit type. It’s just a type alias to (). We can use it like so:

use utoipa::TupleUnit;

#[derive(ToSchema, Serialize, Deserialize, Debug, PartialEq, Eq)]
    GenericPostRequest = GenericRequest <TupleUnit, PostRequests>,
    GenericDeleteRequest = GenericRequest <TupleUnit, DeleteRequests>,
pub struct GenericRequest <T, V>{
    pub params: Option <T>,
    pub data: Option <V>,

Aliases for Generic Structs with empty Tuples

Just as before you’ll have to include the types in schemas attribute, but this time you’ll have to include utoipa::TupleUnit as well.

SwaggerUI showing our defined schemas in one of the endpoints

Documenting Endpoints

Now that we’ve defined our basic building blocks, we can start building our documentation for the individual endpoints. It’ll be in the following structure:

/// Endpoint Name
/// Description
    context_path = "/v1",
        (status = 200, description = "Hello World!", body = GenericStringResponse),
        (status = 409, description = "Invalid Request Format")
        request_body = GenericPostRequest,
        ("email" = String, Path, description = "Device UUID"),
        ("Token" = []),

Format for utoipa::path proc macro

Since we’ve enabled the actix integration flags, utoipa can infer the request type & its path. Context path will be used if we’re scoping or handlers to a path (eg. /v1). In the responses attribute we specify the status code, description & optionally the response body if there is one. request_body, params & security are optional.

There are more options to configure (refer to the docs), and they’ll vary from the framework you’re using and what you want to display.

Showing of your endpoints

Finally its time to show off our fancy endpoints. We can attach a service to our Http Server App which will show SwaggerUI on the endpoint of our choice.

HttpServer::new(|| {
          // enable logger
                                .url("/api-docs/openapi.json", ApiDoc::openapi()),
  .bind(("", 8080))?

Adding SwaggerUI service to the server

We specify the endpoint URL (in this case /docs-v1/). Then specify the location of where openapi.json is generated (in this case /api-docs/openapi.json) & the ApiDoc::openapi() object.

And when we run & open it on http://localhost:8080/docs-v1/ we’ll be presented with:

SwaggerUI displaying our endpoints


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