REST and gRPC in parallel

Last modified: 13/05/2021

I love to use gRPC for inter-service communication since it is very efficient and often a good alternative to messaging solutions like Kafka. It utilizes Protobuf and HTTP2 which brings a lot of benefits such as strong typing, versioning and streaming.

Nevertheless, it is often the case that I also need to provide REST and/or GraphQL endpoints for other consumers.

A simple solution is to utilize cmux, a library that allows to multiplex connections based on their payload. This way I can provide every protocol on the same TCP listener:

go get

For implementing a lightweight REST API I recommend using echo:

go get

Of course you will also need the gRPC dependencies:

go get
go get

Assume we are inside the main function. Let us start with creating the default listener first:

port := ":8000"

l, err := net.Listen("tcp", port)
if err != nil {

Then we initialize the multiplexer:

m := cmux.New(l)
grpcL := m.Match(cmux.HTTP2HeaderField("content-type", "application/grpc"))
httpL := m.Match(cmux.HTTP1Fast())

Based on the content-type header we use gRPC+HTTP/2 or as fallback the HTTP/1.1 listener.

First we create the gRPC server and service:

grpcS := grpc.NewServer()
// some service based on your proto

And second the "normal" HTTP server, in my case a REST API with echo:

e := echo.New()
// some middleware, routes and handlers
httpS := &http.Server{
    Handler: http.HandlerFunc(func(resp http.ResponseWriter, req *http.Request) {
        e.ServeHTTP(resp, req)

Then we run the respective protocol servers with the muxed listeners in go routines:

go grpcS.Serve(grpcL)
go httpS.Serve(httpL)

And finally start serving:

fmt.Printf("Listening on %s\n", port)