Documenting Play Framework using Swagger
Setting up live documentation for API

Swagger Spec

Earlier I had explained the Swagger spec in this post, Creating REST API Specification.

Swagger Module

Over this post let us automate Swagger spec generation in Play Framework using swagger-play2 module.

Swagger UI provides a Swagger UI which consumes Swagger spec json.
It provides a dynamic web interface to learn, experiment and understand the API.

Configure Play

Now, let us start integrating the swagger module. Following is tested for Play Framework 2.4.6

  1. Add plugin as dependency in build file build.sbt

    libraryDependencies += "io.swagger" %% "swagger-play2" % "1.5.2"
  2. Enable the Swagger Module in conf/application.conf

    play.modules.enabled += "play.modules.swagger.SwaggerModule"
    api.version = "v1" // Specify the api version.

    More config can be added to conf/application.conf to auto generate additional fields in Swagger Spec.

Document API

  • Swagger annotations are available in package io.swagger.annotations
  • Swagger annotations are used to document API in Controller classes.

Sample code can be found below. Add following code to the controller class.

@Api(value = "Example Controller", produces = "application/json")

For each method we need to add documentation, we have to specify the following annotation.
Standard response class is provided. Here, we have Response.class

@ApiOperation(value = "Get API", notes = "Get list of id & values.", response = Response.class)

For each additional response, that API may return can be added using the following annotation.

    @ApiResponse(code = 403, message = "Invalid Authorization", response = ErrorStatus.class),
    @ApiResponse(code = 500, message = "Internal Server Error", response = ErrorStatus.class) })

Arguments in controller methods can be added using,

@ApiOperation(value = "Get User", response = User.class)
public Promise<Result> getUser(
    @ApiParam(value = "User Id", name = "userId") String userId){
        User user = getUser(userId);
        return ok(user);


We can access the auto generated Swagger spec by adding a route to it in conf/routes

GET     /docs/swagger.json              controllers.ApiHelpController.getResources

Now. we can access Swagger Spec from /docs/swagger.json

Add Swagger UI to Play Framework

Since Swagger UI is just dynamic frontend with HTML/JS, it can be served directly in Nginx or httpd.
Alternatively, we can serve Swagger UI in play framework as well.
This also, solves any CORS issues that might arise when API and Swagger UI on different domains.
Copy dist of Swagger UI to /public/swagger-ui in Play Project.

GET     /docs/    "/public/swagger-ui",file="index.html")
GET     /docs/swagger.json  controllers.ApiHelpController.getResources
GET     /docs/*file"/public/swagger-ui",file)

Edit index.html to change the Swagger Spec url.


var url =[^&]+)/);
if (url && url.length > 1) {
    url = decodeURIComponent(url[1]);
} else {
    url = "";


var url =[^&]+)/);
if (url && url.length > 1) {
    url = decodeURIComponent(url[1]);
} else {
    url = "swagger.json";

Explore APIs

Once, sbt compiles and run the playframework, go to http://localhost:9000/docs/ to see the live working Swagger UI.


  • Using Swagger Spec, made it very easy to effectively communicate what API does to anyone who is going to use the API.
  • Automated client code generation from Swagger spec made API Consumption and Testing a breeze.

Not good Yet

There are few glitches in Swagger UI.

  • Some times you have to reload the page to make it work again.
  • If there is no connection to the API service, UI doesn't explicitly says it.
  • API url prefix path is not currently handled in the Swagger UI.
  • Swagger Spec generation involving security configuration is not done correctly.
  • You may have to use prior major version of Play Framework as there is a delay in support for latest version.


Overall Swagger Spec/UI is very good to have when we are exposing any API to be consumed.
Over time, I expect it to evolve to be a better shape and help people who are building and consuming REST APIs.


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About Author

Sakthi Priyan H
Passionate Programmer

  • I am passionate about building excellent teams, processes and systems.
  • Primarily I use Java, Scala and Python for building various systems and tools.
  • Building API services, Big data processing and Machine Learning systems in Crayon Data.
  • Also, interested in Golang and building web apps using Javascript ecosystem.
  • I wrote my first program in BASIC in 1998, Passionate about computers since then.