A fast HTTP web server based on Node.js and Express written in Swift



A Node/Express Inspired Web Framework for Swift that works on iOS, OS X, and Ubuntu.

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  • Insanely fast
  • Single Threaded
  • Beautiful syntax
  • Type safe
  • Powered by Echo
  • Running on Heroku

Table of Contents

Getting Started

You must have Swift 2.2 or later installed. You can learn more about Swift 2.2 at

Blackfish is tested using the latest Swift Development snapshots, with current testing using snapshot February 8, 2016

Work in Progress

This is a work in progress and will likely change frequently, pull requests are welcome!


Starting the server is as simple as express.


import Blackfish

let app = Blackfish()

app.get("/") { request, response in
    response.send(text: "Hello World!")

app.listen(port: 3000) { error in
    if error == nil {
        print("Example app listening on port 3000")

If you are having trouble connecting, make sure your ports are open. Check out apt-get ufw for simple port management.


Routing in Blackfish is simple and very similar to Express.


app.get("/welcome") { request, response in
    response.send(text: "Hello")
}'/') { request, response in
    // POST data
    response.send(text: 'Got a POST request')

//...start server


You can also create a Router object which will allow you to define multiple routes with a prefix.

let router = Router()

router.get("/") { request, response in
    response.send(text: "Bird is the word")

router.get("/about") { request, response in
    response.send(text: "Don't you know, about the bird?")

app.use(path: "/birds", router: router)

// ...start server

Navigating to will show a page with Bird is the word and navigating to will show a page with "Don't you know, about the bird?".


You can also use controllers to define your paths. All you need to do is extend from the Controller protocol and implement your routes in func routes(router: Router) to the router object passed in:

class MyController: Controller {

    func routes(router: Router) {
        router.get("/", handler: index)"/update", handler: formUpdate)

    var index: Route.Handler {
        return { request, response in
            response.send(text: "Hello Index")

    func formUpdate(request: Request, response: Response) {
        response.send(text: "Form updated")

Routes can be either functions with the correct parameters or Route.Handler objects themselves.

Then we just need to add the controller to the server:

let app = Blackfish()

app.use(path: "/test", controller: MyController())

app.listen(port: 3000) { error in
    if error == nil {
        print("App listening on port 3000")
    } else {

Now our /test and /test/update paths will be correct populated


Responding with JSON is easy.

app.get("version") { request, response in
    response.send(json: ["version": "1.0"])

This responds to all requests to with the JSON dictionary {"version": "1.0"} and Content-Type: application/json.


You can also respond with HTML pages.

app.get("/") { request, response in

Just put the file in the Resources folder at the root of your project and it will be served.

You can also create your own renderers to use within Blackfish. A renderer for Stencil is already available here Blackfish Stencil.

    <h1>{{ title }}</h1>
app.get("/") { request, response in
    res.render("index.stencil", data:["title": "Hello world"])


A manual response can be returned if you want to set something like cookies.

Route.get("cookie") { request, response in
    response.status = .OK
    response.text = "Cookie was set"
    response.cookies["test"] = "123"

The Status enum above (.OK) can be one of the following.

public enum Status {
    case OK, Created, Accepted
    case MovedPermanently
    case BadRequest, Unauthorized, Forbidden, NotFound
    case ServerError
    case Unknown
    case Custom(Int)

Or something custom.

let status: Status = .Custom(420) //


All files put in the Public folder at the root of your project will be available at the root of your domain. This is a great place to put your assets (.css, .js, .png, etc).


Blackfish works best with any event based based database, especially if powered by Echo.

Currently, Orca is recommended, which allows for asynchronous, non-blocking data persistence.

Orca currently supports


Every route call gets passed a Request object. This can be used to grab query and path parameters.

This is a list of the properties available on the request object.

let method: Method
var parameters: [String: String] //URL parameters like id in user/:id
var data: [String: String] //GET or POST data
var cookies: [String: String]
var session: Session


Similar to Express, Blackfish provides Middleware which can be used to extend the request stack.

You can either create a middleware class that conforms to the Middleware protocol, or pass a closure in to the Blackfish instance.

Below is an example of a validation Middleware conforming class, that validates every request before passing it down the stack.

class Validator: Middleware {

    func handle(request: Request, response: Response, next: () -> ()) {

    // Some validation logic
    if validator.validate(request) {

        // Go to the next call in the stack.

    } else {

        // Return an error and don't call anything else in the stack.
        response.send(error: "Request was unauthorized")

app.use(middleware: Validator()) 

You can also use middleware on a path which will add it to that path and further on.

let userDetail = { (request, response, next) in 
    let user = findUserById(["userId"])["user"] = user

app.use(path: "/user", middleware: userDetail)
app.use(path: "/dashboard", middleware: Validator())

Middleware is a powerful feature of Blackfish that can open up endless possibilities.


To allow multipart parsing of files and other data from enctype="multitype/form-data" you need to add theMultiparser` middleware to the stack:

app.use(middleware: Multiparser())

Following this, you can access all multipart text input under and files under request.files.


app.use(middleware: Multiparser())"/") { request, response in 


Sessions will be kept track of using the blackfish-session cookie. The default (and currently only) session driver is .Memory.

if let name =["name"] {
    //name was in session

//store name in session["name"] = "Blackfish"



The Blackfish Example app is successfully running on Heroku here

To set up on Heroku, use the Swift Heroku Buildpack by Kyle Fuller.

Instructions for setting up are:

Create a Procfile at the same level as your Package.swift

web: <AppName> --port=$PORT


$ heroku create --buildpack

$ git push heroku master

And you're good!

For more information, see the Blackfish Example project.


Blackfish has been successfully tested on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (DigitalOcean) and Ubuntu 15.10 (VirtualBox).

To deploy to DigitalOcean, simply

  • Install Swift 2.2
    • wget the .tar.gz from Apple
    • Set the export PATH in your ~/.bashrc
    • (you may need to install binutils as well if you see ar not found)
  • Set Blackfish as a dependency of your project in your Package.swift swift dependencies:[ // ...Previous dependencies .Package(url: "", majorVersion: 0) ]
  • cd into the repository
    • Run swift build
    • Run .build/debug/MyApp
    • (you may need to run as sudo to use certain ports)
    • (you may need to install ufw to set appropriate ports)


This project is based on Vapor by Tanner Nelson. It uses compatibilty code from NSLinux by johnno1962.

Go checkout and star their repos.