Scala Code Reading: esclient / Magnet Pattern

First post in Medium 🎊 .

Disclaimer: I started writing this post long before ES client supported the REST endpoint that I’m currently using. This post is more about the Magnet Pattern in Scala.

Weeks ago I looked for ElasticSearch client library in Scala / Java for something I was working on. Since I’m working in Scala, I opened the list of Scala libraries in ElasticSearch documentation and I ran over the list.

I looked specifically for a thin client that will work against the HTTP REST endpoint of ElasticSearch. The default Java client joins the cluster and acts as a node. The software I’m working on should be as much as stateless as it can be, so I couldn’t use it (too many threads and state).

I ran across this library called esclient that contains two source files. It isn’t maintained but it gave me idea that maybe I should write a code that looks the same in my source since I’m going to run a small set of commands against ES.


This file contains the facade to ElasticSearch, and it’s pretty simple. The only bad thing here, is that this client does not use the REST endpoint, it uses the Java client to query ES and thus, joins the cluster as a node.

The one cool thing about it, is that it uses the Magnet pattern, which is a Type class that ties two other types together. If you don’t know what Type Classes are, you really should read about it.

The magnet pattern in this case ties request type with response type. So when you use the client, you won’t be able to request A and expect B.


This file contains all the implicit values for ActionMagnets that can be used with the ESClient.

How does it work?

You can see that the function has three type parameters, and it has one parameter of type Action[Request, Response, RequestBuilder, Client]. Those types are all from the underlying Java ElasticSearch library. You can see that the author used the strong type system of the underlying library to be able to make things “safe”.

The compiler won’t let you to call ESClient.execute with Request and Response that doesn’t have matching ActionMagnet for them. The implicit ActionMagnets are found in the Companion Object for the ActionMagnet trait (Read more about implicit resolution in Scala).

If there are actions that you want to call and the library doesn’t implement, you can implement your own ActionMagnet. Too bad that the factory methods are private.


Reading code is a great way to learn from other people experience. Reading this library took me about 10 minutes and I learned from it two things:

  • Libraries should follow the Open/Closed principle to lower their maintenance and extend their usage.
  • Type Classes in Scala are great for compile time safety. The Magnet Pattern creates another level of safety by tying two types (or more) that shouldn’t be tied together in the first place (in our case: Data Transfer Objects).