Coexistence

Dependency

To use Akka Actor Typed, you must add the following dependency in your project:

sbt
libraryDependencies += "com.typesafe.akka" %% "akka-actor-typed" % "2.6.0"
Maven
<dependency>
  <groupId>com.typesafe.akka</groupId>
  <artifactId>akka-actor-typed_2.13</artifactId>
  <version>2.6.0</version>
</dependency>
Gradle
dependencies {
  compile group: 'com.typesafe.akka', name: 'akka-actor-typed_2.13', version: '2.6.0'
}

Introduction

We believe Akka Typed will be adopted in existing systems gradually and therefore it’s important to be able to use typed and classic actors together, within the same ActorSystem. Also, we will not be able to integrate with all existing modules in one big bang release and that is another reason for why these two ways of writing actors must be able to coexist.

There are two different ActorSystems: akka.actor.ActorSystem and akka.actor.typed.ActorSystem.

Currently the typed actor system is implemented using the classic actor system under the hood. This may change in the future.

Typed and classic can interact the following ways:

  • classic actor systems can create typed actors
  • typed actors can send messages to classic actors, and opposite
  • spawn and supervise typed child from classic parent, and opposite
  • watch typed from classic, and opposite
  • classic actor system can be converted to a typed actor system

In the examples the akka.actor package is aliased to classic.

Scala
import akka.{ actor => classic }

The examples use fully qualified class names for the classic classes to distinguish between typed and classic classes with the same name.

Classic to typed

While coexisting your application will likely still have a classic ActorSystem. This can be converted to a typed ActorSystem so that new code and migrated parts don’t rely on the classic system:

Scala
// adds support for actors to a classic actor system and context
import akka.actor.typed.scaladsl.adapter._

val system = akka.actor.ActorSystem("ClassicToTypedSystem")
val typedSystem: ActorSystem[Nothing] = system.toTyped
Java
// In java use the static methods on Adapter to convert from typed to classic
import akka.actor.typed.javadsl.Adapter;
akka.actor.ActorSystem classicActorSystem = akka.actor.ActorSystem.create();
ActorSystem<Void> typedActorSystem = Adapter.toTyped(classicActorSystem);

Then for new typed actors here’s how you create, watch and send messages to it from a classic actor.

Scala
object Typed {
  sealed trait Command
  final case class Ping(replyTo: ActorRef[Pong.type]) extends Command
  case object Pong

  def apply(): Behavior[Command] =
    Behaviors.receive { (context, message) =>
      message match {
        case Ping(replyTo) =>
          context.log.info(s"${context.self} got Ping from $replyTo")
          // replyTo is a classic actor that has been converted for coexistence
          replyTo ! Pong
          Behaviors.same
      }
    }
}
Java
public abstract static class Typed {
  interface Command {}

  public static class Ping implements Command {
    public final akka.actor.typed.ActorRef<Pong> replyTo;

    public Ping(ActorRef<Pong> replyTo) {
      this.replyTo = replyTo;
    }
  }

  public static class Pong {}

  public static Behavior<Command> behavior() {
    return Behaviors.receive(Typed.Command.class)
        .onMessage(
            Typed.Ping.class,
            message -> {
              message.replyTo.tell(new Pong());
              return same();
            })
        .build();
  }
}

The top level classic actor is created in the usual way:

Scala
val classicActor = system.actorOf(Classic.props())
Java
akka.actor.ActorSystem as = akka.actor.ActorSystem.create();
akka.actor.ActorRef classic = as.actorOf(Classic.props());

Then it can create a typed actor, watch it, and send a message to it:

Scala
class Classic extends classic.Actor with ActorLogging {
  // context.spawn is an implicit extension method
  val second: ActorRef[Typed.Command] =
    context.spawn(Typed(), "second")

  // context.watch is an implicit extension method
  context.watch(second)

  // self can be used as the `replyTo` parameter here because
  // there is an implicit conversion from akka.actor.ActorRef to
  // akka.actor.typed.ActorRef
  // An equal alternative would be `self.toTyped`
  second ! Typed.Ping(self)

  override def receive = {
    case Typed.Pong =>
      log.info(s"$self got Pong from ${sender()}")
      // context.stop is an implicit extension method
      context.stop(second)
    case classic.Terminated(ref) =>
      log.info(s"$self observed termination of $ref")
      context.stop(self)
  }
}
Java
public static class Classic extends AbstractActor {
  public static akka.actor.Props props() {
    return akka.actor.Props.create(Classic.class);
  }

  private final akka.actor.typed.ActorRef<Typed.Command> second =
      Adapter.spawn(getContext(), Typed.behavior(), "second");

  @Override
  public void preStart() {
    Adapter.watch(getContext(), second);
    second.tell(new Typed.Ping(Adapter.toTyped(getSelf())));
  }

  @Override
  public Receive createReceive() {
    return receiveBuilder()
        .match(
            Typed.Pong.class,
            message -> {
              Adapter.stop(getContext(), second);
            })
        .match(
            akka.actor.Terminated.class,
            t -> {
              getContext().stop(getSelf());
            })
        .build();
  }
}

There is one import that is needed to make that work. We import the Adapter class and call static methods for conversion.

Scala
// adds support for actors to a classic actor system and context
import akka.actor.typed.scaladsl.adapter._
Java
// In java use the static methods on Adapter to convert from typed to classic
import akka.actor.typed.javadsl.Adapter;

That adds some implicit extension methods that are added to classic and typed ActorSystem, ActorContext and ActorRef in both directions. To convert between typed and classic ActorSystem, ActorContext and ActorRef in both directions there are adapter methods in akka.actor.typed.javadsl.Adapter. Note the inline comments in the example above.

Typed to classic

Let’s turn the example upside down and first start the typed actor and then the classic as a child.

The following will show how to create, watch and send messages back and forth from a typed actor to this classic actor:

Scala
object Classic {
  def props(): classic.Props = classic.Props(new Classic)
}
class Classic extends classic.Actor {
  override def receive = {
    case Typed.Ping(replyTo) =>
      replyTo ! Typed.Pong
  }
}
Java
public static class Classic extends AbstractActor {
  public static akka.actor.Props props() {
    return akka.actor.Props.create(Classic.class);
  }

  @Override
  public Receive createReceive() {
    return receiveBuilder().match(Typed.Ping.class, this::onPing).build();
  }

  private void onPing(Typed.Ping message) {
    message.replyTo.tell(Typed.Pong.INSTANCE);
  }
}

Creating the actor system and the typed actor:

Scala
val system = classic.ActorSystem("TypedWatchingClassic")
val typed = system.spawn(Typed.behavior, "Typed")
Java
ActorSystem as = ActorSystem.create();
ActorRef<Typed.Command> typed = Adapter.spawn(as, Typed.create(), "Typed");

Then the typed actor creates the classic actor, watches it and sends and receives a response:

Scala
object Typed {
  final case class Ping(replyTo: akka.actor.typed.ActorRef[Pong.type])
  sealed trait Command
  case object Pong extends Command

  val behavior: Behavior[Command] =
    Behaviors.setup { context =>
      // context.actorOf is an implicit extension method
      val classic = context.actorOf(Classic.props(), "second")

      // context.watch is an implicit extension method
      context.watch(classic)

      // illustrating how to pass sender, toClassic is an implicit extension method
      classic.tell(Typed.Ping(context.self), context.self.toClassic)

      Behaviors
        .receivePartial[Command] {
          case (context, Pong) =>
            // it's not possible to get the sender, that must be sent in message
            // context.stop is an implicit extension method
            context.stop(classic)
            Behaviors.same
        }
        .receiveSignal {
          case (_, akka.actor.typed.Terminated(_)) =>
            Behaviors.stopped
        }
    }
}
Java
public static class Typed extends AbstractBehavior<Typed.Command> {

  public static class Ping {
    public final akka.actor.typed.ActorRef<Pong> replyTo;

    public Ping(ActorRef<Pong> replyTo) {
      this.replyTo = replyTo;
    }
  }

  interface Command {}

  public enum Pong implements Command {
    INSTANCE
  }

  private final akka.actor.ActorRef second;

  private Typed(ActorContext<Command> context, akka.actor.ActorRef second) {
    super(context);
    this.second = second;
  }

  public static Behavior<Command> create() {
    return akka.actor.typed.javadsl.Behaviors.setup(
        context -> {
          akka.actor.ActorRef second = Adapter.actorOf(context, Classic.props(), "second");

          Adapter.watch(context, second);

          second.tell(
              new Typed.Ping(context.getSelf().narrow()), Adapter.toClassic(context.getSelf()));

          return new Typed(context, second);
        });
  }

  @Override
  public Receive<Command> createReceive() {
    return newReceiveBuilder()
        .onMessage(Typed.Pong.class, message -> onPong())
        .onSignal(akka.actor.typed.Terminated.class, sig -> Behaviors.stopped())
        .build();
  }

  private Behavior<Command> onPong() {
    Adapter.stop(getContext(), second);
    return this;
  }
}

Supervision

The default supervision for classic actors is to restart whereas for typed it is to stop. When combining classic and typed actors the default supervision is based on the default behavior of the child, for example if a classic actor creates a typed child, its default supervision will be to stop. If a typed actor creates a classic child, its default supervision will be to restart.

Found an error in this documentation? The source code for this page can be found here. Please feel free to edit and contribute a pull request.