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1. Overview

In this tutorial, we're going to look at different configuration options for a Reactor Netty server in a Spring Boot application. In the end, we'll have an application showcasing different configuration approaches.

2. What Is Reactor Netty?

Before we start, let's look at what Reactor Netty is and how it relates to Spring Boot.

Reactor Netty is an asynchronous event-driven network application framework. It provides non-blocking and backpressure-ready TCP, HTTP, and UDP clients and servers. As the name implies, it's based on the Netty framework.

Now, let's see where Spring and Spring Boot come into the picture.

Spring WebFlux is a part of the Spring framework and provides reactive programming support for web applications. If we're using WebFlux in a Spring Boot application, Spring Boot automatically configures Reactor Netty as the default server. In addition to that, we can explicitly add Reactor Netty to our project, and Spring Boot should again automatically configure it.

Now, we'll build an application to learn how we can customize our auto-configured Reactor Netty server. After that, we'll cover some common configuration scenarios.

3. Dependencies

Firstly, we'll add the required Maven dependency.

To use the Reactor Netty server, we will add the spring-boot-starter-webflux as a dependency in our pom file:


This will also pull in spring-boot-starter-reactor-netty as a transitive dependency into our project.

4. Server Configuration

4.1. Using Properties Files

As the first option, we can configure the Netty server through properties files. Spring Boot exposes some of the common server configurations in the application properties file:

Let's define the server port in application.properties:


Or we could have done the same in application.yml:

    port: 8088

Besides the server port, Spring Boot has many other available server configuration optionsThe properties that start with the server prefix let us override the default server configuration. We can easily look up these properties in the Spring documentation under the EMBEDDED SERVER CONFIGURATION section.

4.2. Using Programmatic Configuration

Now, let's look at how we can configure our embedded Netty server through code. For this purpose, Spring Boot gives us the WebServerFactoryCustomizer and NettyServerCustomizer classes.

Let's use these classes to configure the Netty port as we did previously with our properties file:

public class NettyWebServerFactoryPortCustomizer 
  implements WebServerFactoryCustomizer<NettyReactiveWebServerFactory> {

    public void customize(NettyReactiveWebServerFactory serverFactory) {

Spring Boot will pick up our factory customizer component during startup and will configure the server port.

Alternatively, we can implement NettyServerCustomizer:

private static class PortCustomizer implements NettyServerCustomizer {
    private final int port;

    private PortCustomizer(int port) {
        this.port = port;
    public HttpServer apply(HttpServer httpServer) {
        return httpServer.port(port);

And add it to the server factory:

serverFactory.addServerCustomizers(new PortCustomizer(8088));

These two approaches give us a lot of flexibility when configuring our embedded Reactor Netty server.

Furthermore, we can also customize the EventLoopGroup:

private static class EventLoopNettyCustomizer implements NettyServerCustomizer {

    public HttpServer apply(HttpServer httpServer) {
        EventLoopGroup eventLoopGroup = new NioEventLoopGroup();
        eventLoopGroup.register(new NioServerSocketChannel());
        return httpServer.runOn(eventLoopGroup);

However, there is a caveat for this case. Since Spring Boot auto-configures the Netty server, we may need to skip auto-configuration by explicitly defining our NettyReactiveWebServerFactory bean.

For this purpose, we should define our bean in a configuration class and add our customizer there:

public NettyReactiveWebServerFactory nettyReactiveWebServerFactory() {
    NettyReactiveWebServerFactory webServerFactory = new NettyReactiveWebServerFactory();
    webServerFactory.addServerCustomizers(new EventLoopNettyCustomizer());
    return webServerFactory;

Next, we'll continue with some common Netty configuration scenarios.

5. SSL Configuration

Let's see how we can configure SSL.

We'll use the SslServerCustomizer class which is another implementation of NettyServerCustomizer:

public class NettyWebServerFactorySslCustomizer 
  implements WebServerFactoryCustomizer<NettyReactiveWebServerFactory> {

    public void customize(NettyReactiveWebServerFactory serverFactory) {
        Ssl ssl = new Ssl();
        Http2 http2 = new Http2();
        serverFactory.addServerCustomizers(new SslServerCustomizer(ssl, http2, null));

Here we've defined our keystore related properties, disabled HTTP/2, and set the port to 8443.

6. Access Log Configuration

Now, we'll look at how we can configure access logging using Logback.

Spring Boot lets us configure access logging in the application properties file for Tomcat, Jetty, and Undertow. However, Netty does not have this support just yet.

To enable Netty access logging, we should set -Dreactor.netty.http.server.accessLogEnabled=true when running our application:

mvn spring-boot:run -Dreactor.netty.http.server.accessLogEnabled=true

7. Conclusion

In this article, we've covered how to configure the Reactor Netty server in a Spring Boot application.

Firstly, we used the general Spring Boot property-based configuration capabilities. And then, we explored how to programmatically configure Netty in a fine-grained manner.

Finally, the source code for this article is available on Github.

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