URL encoding and decoding using Scala

Learn how to encode or decode URLs in Scala

April 03, 2017

Sometime it is required to encode or decode the URL in projects, especially when URL is supposed to be sent over the network. As the URLs often contain the characters that are outside UTF-8 character set, the URL must be converted to a valid character set. An example is to convert space character ” ” to “+” sign.

EncodeURL Method

We are going to use java.net.URLEncoder class to encode our URL. It is a utility class that converts String to application/x-www-form-urlencoded MIME format. The class converts all the unsafe characters with “%” followed by two hexadecimal digits.

def encodeUrl(url: String): String =
  try {
    URLEncoder.encode(url, "UTF-8")
  } catch {
    case exception: UnsupportedEncodingException =>
      "Problems while encoding " + exception.getMessage

The method URLEncoder.encode requires two parameters:

  • First one is the input url, while
  • The second one is supported characterset

The method provides the output as encoded url

DecodeURL Method

We can decode our URL using java.net.URLDecoder. The decode method converts application/x-www-form-urlencoded MIME format to String. The Decoder class is reverse of Encoder. The hexadecimal digits that are followed by “%” are converted to the characters.

def decodeUrl(url: String): String = {
  val decodedUrl: Either[String, String] = try {
    Left(URLDecoder.decode( url, "UTF-8" ))
  } catch {
    case exception: UnsupportedEncodingException =>
      Right("Problems while encoding " + exception.getMessage)
  decodedUrl match {
    case Left(dUrl) => if(url == dUrl) url else decodeUrl(dUrl)
    case Right(exceptionMsg) => exceptionMsg

Similar to the encode method, URLDecoder.decode also accepts two parameters

  • First one is the input url, while
  • The second one is supported characterset

But the decodeURL method is slightly different from encodeURL method. The url may be encoded multiple time, hence, decodeURL must keep decoding the URL until the URL get rid of all hexadecimal characters.

If you have a look at the above code, we are using tail recursion. We will keep passing the url to decodeURL method until the url and decodedURL are same.


  • EncodeURL example


Result https%3A%2F%2Fgaur4vgaur.github.io%2Fscala%2Furl-encoding-and-decoding-using-scala

  • DecodeURL example


This URL above is encoded twice, still we get the expected result https://gaur4vgaur.github.io/scala/url-encoding-and-decoding-using-scala

NOTE: Imports for above example

import java.net.URLEncoder
import java.io.UnsupportedEncodingException
import java.net.URLDecoder
© 2021, Gaurav Gaur