Extractig Generic Substates in Axum

In this post I'll show you how to extract a generic substate in Axum handlers, without resorting to dynamic dispatch.

An Intro to Substates in Axum

The Axum Web framework allows you to easily extract parts of your application states in handlers:

// Some service
struct GuestGreeter;
impl GuestGreeter { /* ... */ }

// Our Axum handler that uses the greeter service
async fn homepage_handler(State(greeter): State<GuestGreeter>) -> impl IntoResponse { /* ... */ }

// Application state
struct AppState {
    greeter: GuestGreeter,

// manual `FromRef` implementation
impl FromRef<AppState> for GuestGreeter {
    fn from_ref(state: &AppState) -> Self {

// Putting it all together now ...
async fn start_app(greeter: GuestGreeter) {
    let state = AppState { greeter };
    let app = Router::new()
        .route("/", get(homepage_handler))

    /* ... */

Making it Generic

This works perfectly now and we can extend AppState with more components. However when following DDD or Hexagonal Architecture, you'll usually want your AppState and handlers to be generic over your domain's traits.

So let's start with the Trait and some implementors:

trait Greeter: Clone + Send + Sync + 'static { /* ... */ }

impl Greeter for WorldGreeter { /* ... */ }
impl Greeter for UniverseGreeter { /* ... */ }

One thig to note here is the additional trait bounds on Greeter. While Clone is required for any state you pass into Axum (unless you wrap it in an Arc), Send + Sync ensure that it can be shared & passed between threads.

Next, our handler and state should of course be generic as well:

async fn homepage<G: Greeter>(State(greeter): State<G>) -> { /* ... */ }

struct AppState<G: Greeter> {
    greeter: G,

Now when it comes to AsRef, it's unfortunately NOT possible (or at least I did not find out how) to just have a generic implementation:

impl<G: Greeter> FromRef<AppState<G>> for G {
    fn from_ref(state: &AppState<G>) -> Self {

This results in a compilation error:

 32 | impl<G: Greeter> FromRef<AppState<G>> for G {
    |      ^ type parameter `G` must be covered by another type when it appears before the first local type (`AppState<G>`)

So instead we have to implement AsRef for each concrete type:

impl FromRef<AppState<UniverseGreeter>> for UniverseGreeter { /* ... */ }
impl FromRef<AppState<WorldGreeter>> for WorldGreeter { /* ... */ }

Now the only thing missing is our run_app:

async fn run_app<G>(greeter: G)
    G: Greeter + FromRef<AppState<G>>,  // <1>
    let state = AppState { greeter };
    let app = Router::new()
        .route("/", get(homepage::<G>))  // <2>

    /* ... */

Now there are quite a few important bits:

  1. G must also be constrained by FromRef<AppState<G>>
  2. We must pass our generic param to the handler function using the turbofish syntax: homepage::<G>



Got any feedback or input? Ping me on Masto at @[email protected]!

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