Skip to main content
Version: ZIO 2.x


A ZLayer[-RIn, +E, +ROut] describes a layer of an application: every layer in an application requires some services as input RIn and produces some services as the output ROut.

We can think of a layer as mental model of an asynchronous function from RIn to the Either[E, ROut]:

type ZLayer[-RIn, +E, +ROut] = RIn => async Either[E, ROut]

For example, a ZLayer[Socket & Persistence, Throwable, Database] can be thought of as a function that map Socket and Persistence services into Database service:

(Socket, Persistence) => Database

So we can say that the Database service has two dependencies: Socket and Persistence services.

In some cases, a ZLayer may not have any dependencies or requirements from the environment. In this case, we can specify Any for the RIn type parameter. The Layer type alias provided by ZIO is a convenient way to define a layer without requirements.

ZLayers are:

  1. Recipes for Creating Services — They describe how to create services from given dependencies. For example, the ZLayer[Socket & Database, Throwable, UserRepo] is a recipe for building a service that requires Socket and Database service, and it produces a UserRepo service.

  2. An Alternative to Constructors — We can think of ZLayer as a more powerful version of a constructor, it is an alternative way to represent a constructor. Like a constructor, it allows us to build the ROut service in terms of its dependencies (RIn).

  3. Composable — Because of their excellent composition properties, layers are the idiomatic way in ZIO to create services that depend on other services. We can define layers that are relying on each other.

  4. Effectful and Resourceful — The construction of ZIO layers can be effectful and resourceful. They can be acquired effectfully and safely released when the services are done being utilized or even in case of failure, interruption, or defects in the application.

    For example, to create a recipe for a Database service, we should describe how the Database will be initialized using an acquisition action. In addition, it may contain information about how the Database releases its connection pools.

  5. Asynchronous — Unlike class constructors which are blocking, ZLayer is fully asynchronous and non-blocking. Note that in non-blocking applications we typically want to avoid creating something that is blocking inside its constructor.

    For example, when we are constructing some sort of Kafka streaming service, we might want to connect to the Kafka cluster in the constructor of our service, which takes some time. So it wouldn't be a good idea to block inside the constructor. There are some workarounds for fixing this issue, but they are not as perfect as the ZIO solution which allows for asynchronous, non-blocking constructors.

  6. Parallelism — ZIO layers can be acquired in parallel, unlike class constructors, which do not support parallelism. When we compose multiple layers and then acquire them, the construction of each layer will occur in parallel. This will reduce the initialization time of ZIO applications with a large number of dependencies.

    With ZIO ZLayer, our constructor could be asynchronous, but it could also block. We can acquire resources asynchronously or in a blocking fashion, and spend some time doing that, and we don't need to worry about it. That is not an anti-pattern. This is the best practice with ZIO. And that is because ZLayer has the full power of the ZIO data type, and as a result, we have strictly more power on our constructors with ZLayer.

  7. Resilient — Layer construction can be resilient. So if the acquiring phase fails, we can have a schedule to retry the acquiring stage. This helps us write apps that are error-proof and respond appropriately to failures.

Let's see how we can create a layer:


There are four main ways to create a ZLayer:

  1. ZLayer.succeed for creating layers from simple values.
  2. ZLayer.scoped for creating layers with for comprehension style from resourceful effects.
  3. ZLayer.apply/ZLayer.fromZIO for creating layers with for comprehension style from effectual but not resourceful effects.
  4. ZLayer.fromFunction for creating layers that are neither effectual nor resourceful.

Now let's look at each of these methods.

From a Simple Value or an Existing Service

With ZLayer.succeed we can construct a ZLayer from a value. It returns a ULayer[A] value, which represents a layer of an application that has a service of type A:

def succeed[A: Tag](a: A): ULayer[A]

Using ZLayer.succeed we can create a layer containing simple value or a service:

  1. To create a layer from a simple value:
import zio._

case class AppConfig(host: String, port: Int)

val configLayer: ULayer[AppConfig] = ZLayer.succeed(AppConfig("localhost", 8080))

In the example above, we created a configLayer that provides us an instance of AppConfig.

  1. To create a layer from an existing service:
import zio._

trait EmailService {
def send(email: String, content: String): UIO[Unit]

object EmailService {
val layer: ZLayer[Any, Nothing, EmailService] =
new EmailService {
override def send(email: String, content: String): UIO[Unit] = ???

From Non-resourceful Effects

This is the for-comprehension way of creating a ZIO service using ZLayer.apply:

import zio._

trait A
trait B
trait C
case class CLive(a: A, b: B) extends C

object CLive {
val layer: ZLayer[A & B, Nothing, C] =
ZLayer {
for {
a <- ZIO.service[A]
b <- ZIO.service[B]
} yield CLive(a, b)

From Functions

A ZLayer[R, E, A] can be thought of as a function from R to A. So we can convert functions to the ZLayer using the ZLayer.fromFunction constructor.

In the following example, the CLive implementation requires two A and B services, and we can easily convert that case class to a ZLayer:

import zio._

trait A
trait B
trait C
case class CLive(a: A, b: B) extends C

object CLive {
val layer: ZLayer[A & B, Nothing, C] =
ZLayer.fromFunction(CLive.apply _)

Below is a complete working example:

import zio._

case class DatabaseConfig()

object DatabaseConfig {
val live = ZLayer.succeed(DatabaseConfig())

case class Database(databaseConfig: DatabaseConfig)

object Database {
val live: ZLayer[DatabaseConfig, Nothing, Database] =
ZLayer.fromFunction(Database.apply _)

case class Analytics()

object Analytics {
val live: ULayer[Analytics] = ZLayer.succeed(Analytics())

case class Users(database: Database, analytics: Analytics)

object Users {
val live = ZLayer.fromFunction(Users.apply _)

case class App(users: Users, analytics: Analytics) {
def execute: UIO[Unit] =
ZIO.debug(s"This app is made from ${users} and ${analytics}")

object App {
val live = ZLayer.fromFunction(App.apply _)

object MainApp extends ZIOAppDefault {

def run =
// Cannot use `provide` due to this dotty bug:
((( >>> ++ >>> ++ >>>

Converting a Layer to a Scoped Value

Every ZLayer can be converted to a scoped ZIO by using

import zio._

trait Database {
def close: UIO[Unit]

object Database {
def connect: ZIO[Any, Throwable, Database] = ???

val database: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, Database] =
ZLayer.scoped {
ZIO.acquireRelease {
Database.connect.debug("connecting to the database")
} { database =>

val scopedDatabase: ZIO[Scope, Throwable, ZEnvironment[Database]] =

Falling Back to an Alternate Layer

If a layer fails, we can provide an alternative layer by using ZLayer#orElse so it will fall back to the second layer:

import zio._

trait Database

val postgresDatabaseLayer: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, Database] = ???
val inmemoryDatabaseLayer: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, Database] = ???

val databaseLayer: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, Database] =

Converting a Layer to a ZIO Application

Sometimes our entire application is a ZIO Layer, e.g. an HTTP Server, so by calling the ZLayer#launch we can convert that to a ZIO application. This will build the layer and use it until it is interrupted.

object MainApp extends ZIOAppDefault {

val httpServer: ZLayer[Any, Nothing, HttpServer] =

def run = httpServer.launch



We can retry constructing a layer in case of failure:

import zio._

val databaseLayer: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, DatabaseConnection] = ???

val retriedLayer : ZLayer[Clock, Throwable, DatabaseConnection] = databaseLayer.retry(Schedule.fibonacci(1.second))

Layer Projection

We can project out a part of ZLayer by providing a projection function to the ZLayer#project method:

import zio._

case class Connection(host: String, port: Int)
case class Login(user: String, password: String)

case class DBConfig(
connection: Connection,
login: Login

val connection: ZLayer[DBConfig, Nothing, Connection] =


We can perform a specified effect based on the success or failure result of the layer using ZLayer#tap/ZLayer#tapError. This would not change the layer's signature:

import zio._

case class AppConfig(host: String, port: Int)

val config: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, AppConfig] =
ZIO.attempt(???) // reading config from a file

val res: ZLayer[Any, Throwable, AppConfig] =
.tap(cnf => ZIO.debug(s"layer acquisition succeeded with $cnf"))
.tapError(err => ZIO.debug(s"error occurred during reading the config $err"))