Today I would like to share with you how to wrap an Elasticsearch client response into Java’s CompletableFuture in different clients: the Transport Client and the Java High Level REST Client in Elasticsearch 7. The motivation of doing this is quite simple: being able to perform tasks concurrently in the “standard” Java way. For example, it’s useful when you want to send multiple requests to Elasticsearch concurrently, when you want to request multiple Elasticsearch clusters, or when you want to create your client interacting with Elasticsearch and exposing asynchronous APIs to callers.

After reading this article, you will understand:

  • How to wrap transport client calls into CompletableFuture?
  • How to choose executor (thread-pool)?
  • How to handle timeout?
  • How to do these in Java High Level REST Client?
  • How to go further from here?

This article is written in Java 11. Now, let’s get started!

Actually, Elasticsearch has a pull-request to “Replace custom Future implementations by CompletableFuture”, made by Yannick Welsch. But this feature won’t be available before v8.0.0.

Action Listener Wrapping

The easiest way to wrap the response into CompletableFuture is to do it via ActionListener. Elasticsearch Transport Client provides an asynchronous API which accepts an action listener as input. Therefore, you can control the CompletableFuture completion inside the listener:

var cf = new CompletableFuture<ClusterStateResponse>(); // 1
    .execute(ActionListener.wrap(cf::complete, cf::completeExceptionally)); // 2
var stateFuture = cf.thenApply(ClusterStateResponse::getState); // 3

In this code snippet,

  1. Completable future cf is created at the beginning, but it’s incomplete.
  2. Completable future cf is wrapped into an action listener. When the cluster state response is received, the completable future will be completed via cf::complete. If any error occurs, then the completable future will be completed exceptionally via cf::completeExceptionally. How the action listener is hooked into the Elasticsearch client is delegated to Elasticsearch transport client.
  3. You can manipulate the response ClusterStateResponse as you desired in the down-stream. You can retrieve the cluster state via thenApply; you can add a log; you can return the completable future as method output, etc. It’s up to you.

Custom Action Listener

A sightly different approach is to create a custom action listener as an anonymous class:

var cf = new CompletableFuture<ClusterStateResponse>();
    .execute(new ActionListener<>() {
      public void onResponse(ClusterStateResponse response) {
        cf.complete(response); // 1

      public void onFailure(Exception e) {
        cf.completeExceptionally(e); // 2

Compared to the previous approach, we have more flexibility about the completable future completion. We can transform the response, use variables from outside of the anonymous class, etc. This is valid for both point “1” and “2”. Personally, I prefer the previous approach because it’s less verbose and makes the code easier to read. About the transformation, we can do it in the completable future via thenApply or other thenXxx methods anyway.

Thread Pool

I’m neither an Elasticsearch expert nor a Java concurrency expert so please leave me a comment if you think the analysis below is wrong.

Since communicating with Elasticsearch is an I/O blocking operation, it means that you may want to treat the response carefully and avoid blocking the common fork-join pool, used by default by CompletableFuture. The two approaches mentioned above via ActionListener should handle it well because our code didn’t block the method waiting for the response of Elasticsearch before returning it. A 3rd approach to do so is to use the CompletableFuture.supplyAsnyc(...) method with an executor (thread pool):

// I don't think you need this, `client` has a thread pool already
var cf = CompletableFuture.supplyAsync(
    () -> client.admin().cluster().prepareState().get(), executor);

But in my opinion, this is a waste because Elasticsearch client already uses a separate thread pool to handle its requests (source code). Using yet another thread pool is not a good idea.


Setting the timeout is important. It allows you to control the actions and avoid waiting too long. When using Elasticsearch Java clients in a synchronous way, you can use the ActionFututure#actionGet(...) methods to set the timeout. But you cannot do this anymore with CompletableFuture… With CompletableFuture, there are mainly two ways to set the timeouts: get(...) or orTimeout(...) after Java 9.

In Java 8+, you can use get(long timeout, TimeUnit unit). Use it to set the timeout at the end of the completion stages (end of completable future). But the problems of this approach are: 1) when you have multiple dependents on the downstream of Elasticsearch response, you need to set them all, but actually only the Elasticsearch response timeout matters. 2) the timeout is not accurate: it does not measure the response time of the Elasticsearch call, but the entire completable future instead. 3) the method throws a checked exception, so you have to handle the exception or re-throw it.

var response = cf.get(3000, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);

In Java 9+, you can use orTimeout(long timeout, TimeUnit unit). Use it to complete exceptionally this future with TimeoutException if this future is not completed before the given timeout. It also solves the problems mentioned above: we set the timeout once; we can control the future of the response explicitly instead of controlling their dependents; the timeout is accurate; how to handle exception will depend on your choices.

var responseFuture = cf.orTimeout(3000, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);

If you were using Java Time or Elasticsearch Time Value, here are two blocks showing you how to use them for controlling the timeout:

// java.time.Duration
var timeout = Duration.ofSeconds(3);
var responseFuture = cf.orTimeout(timeout.toMillis(), TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);
// org.elasticsearch.common.unit.TimeValue
var timeout = TimeValue.timeValueSeconds(3);
var responseFuture = cf.orTimeout(timeout.millis(), TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);

Java High Level REST Client

As you may know, Java transport client was deprecated in Elasticsearch 7.0.0 in favour of the Java High Level REST Client and will be removed in Elasticsearch 8.0. So I believe it is worth to mention how to do the same thing in the new REST client as well, i.e. creating a completable future from the Elasticsearch response. The code looks very similar to the previous ones:

var cf = new CompletableFuture<ClusterHealthResponse>();
        new ClusterHealthRequest(),
        ActionListener.wrap(cf::complete, cf::completeExceptionally));

// TODO: implement your logic about completable future here

Going Further

How to go further from here?

If you want to see the source code of this article, you can visit them on GitHub as CompletableFutureTransportClientTest and CompletableFutureRestClientIT.


In this article, we discussed how to wrap a response into CompletableFuture from Elasticsearch Transport Client or Java High Level REST Client via action listener or completable future’s supplyAsync. We saw different ways to control the timeout for the completable future. And how to go further by reading the official documentation of Elasticsearch. Interested to know more? You can subscribe to the feed of my blog, follow me on Twitter or GitHub. Hope you enjoy this article, see you the next time!