Smithy Server Generator for TypeScript handlers#

The primary abstraction of a Smithy server is ServiceHandler, the interface to the server's generated implementation that a service's code will build and call directly.

export interface ServiceHandler<Context = {}, RequestType = HttpRequest, ResponseType = HttpResponse> {
    handle(request: RequestType, context: Context): Promise<ResponseType>;

A ServiceHandler is simply a function that takes in a request (by default, an HttpRequest) and an optional Context of arbitrary type, and returns a response (by default, an HttpResponse).

The Smithy Server Generator for TypeScript generates two different sets of handlers: one handler for the service as a whole, and another handler for each individual operation in the service. This allows the service to choose the handler that works best for their situation.

The primary difference between service-level and operation-level handlers is where routing (the matching of requests to Smithy operations) is performed. Operation-level handlers assume that routing is handled outside of the server SDK, which is commonly the case when a service like Amazon API Gateway is used. Service-level handlers are used when all requests from an endpoint are handled by a handler, which would be the case when using Node.js's built-in HTTP server.

Consider a service with the following Smithy declaration:

service StringWizard {
    version: "2018-05-10",
    operations: [Echo, Length]

The SSDK will generate three different implementations of ServiceHandler. One for StringWizard:

export class StringWizardServiceHandler<Context> implements ServiceHandler<Context> { /* ... */ }

As well as one for Echo and one for Length:

export class EchoHandler<Context> implements ServiceHandler<Context> { /* ... */ }

export class LengthHandler<Context> implements ServiceHandler<Context> { /* ... */ }

ServiceHandler factories#

Each handler class is protocol-agnostic; the implementation details of protocol serialization, deserialization, and routing are passed into the handler class's constructor. For convenience, a factory method is generated for the service's protocol that supply the necessary parameters to the handlers' constructors.

For instance, for the Length operation of StringWizard, a corresponding handler factory function is generated:

export const getLengthHandler = <Context>(operation: Operation<LengthServerInput, LengthServerOutput, Context>):
    ServiceHandler<Context, HttpRequest, HttpResponse> => { /* ... */ }

The only parameter of getLengthParameter is an implementation of Operation<LengthServerInput, LengthServerOutput, Context>. Operation is a type distributed in @aws-smithy/server-common that server developers implement in order to perform the business logic of an operation described in their Smithy model.

export type Operation<I, O, Context = {}> = (input: I, context: Context) => Promise<O>;

The Lambda implementation of the Length operation can then be as simple as:

// getLengthHandler is the code generated handler factory
const handler = getLengthHandler(async (input) => {
    return {
        length: input.string?.length,
        $metadata: {}

export const lambdaHandler: APIGatewayProxyHandler = async (event): Promise<APIGatewayProxyResult> => {
    // This uses the shim from @aws-smithy/server-apigateway to convert APIGateway events to HttpRequests
    const httpRequest = convertEvent(event);

    const httpResponse = await handler.handle(httpRequest, {});

    // This uses the shim from @aws-smithy/server-apigateway to convert HttpResponses to APIGateway events
    return convertVersion1Response(httpResponse);

Since getLengthHandler is code generated against the input and output types of the Length operation, this code has the additional benefit of being type-safe, even though the incoming event is simply a raw HTTP request. Additionally, although getLengthHandler can only service requests for the Length operation, it still asserts that the incoming request matches the modeled expectations for Length. This means if the developer accidentally deploys the code for Length to the Lambda function for Echo, the handler will reject the request instead of passing it onto the business logic and executing the wrong code.

The handler factory function for services, is similar, but instead of requiring an implementation of Operation, it requires an implementation of every Operation in the service. For instance, for StringWizardService, the handler factory function looks like this:

export const getStringWizardServiceHandler = <Context>(service: StringWizardService<Context>):
    __ServiceHandler<Context, __HttpRequest, __HttpResponse> => { /* ... */ }

StringWizardService is a generated interface with the following definition:

export interface StringWizardService<Context> {
  Echo: Operation<EchoServerInput, EchoServerOutput, Context>
  Length: Operation<LengthServerInput, LengthServerOutput, Context>

This conveys the same type-safety benefits as the operation-level handler factory, as well as ensuring that any service handler has an implementation for every operation in the service. This means type checks will fail if your model adds an operation, but the service's source code is not properly updated to add an implementation for it.


All handlers take an arbitrary Context of a type specified at runtime via the handler's Context generic type argument. This allows the service developer to pass unmodeled data from the request or runtime environment to their business logic.

For instance, a server running in AWS Lambda behind Amazon API Gateway could define a context that includes the calling user's ARN, in order to do authorization checks in their business logic:

interface HandlerContext {
  user: string;

and then modify their entry-point implementation to extract the user's identity from the incoming request and pass it to the handler:

export const lambdaHandler: APIGatewayProxyHandler = async (event): Promise<APIGatewayProxyResult> => {
    const httpRequest = convertEvent(event);

    const userArn = event.requestContext.identity.userArn;
    if (!userArn) {
      throw new Error("IAM Auth is not enabled");
    const context = { user: userArn };

    const httpResponse = await handler.handle(httpRequest, context);

    return convertVersion1Response(httpResponse);

The value of Context is not constrained or modified by the server SDK in any way; it is passed through unmodified to the Operation implementation.