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The map Operator

The map operator transforms the elements emitted by a Publisher by applying a function to each of them.

Here’s the marble diagram of this operator (for Mono):

Map marble diagram

  1. First, a Publisher of circles emits a circle.
  2. Then, the circle is transformed into a square by the operation passed to the map operator.
  3. Finally, the square is put into a new Publisher (of squares) so it can be processed by another operator or sent to a subscriber.

Thinking in terms of containers, if you have a container of circles:

Container of circles

The map operator unpacks the circle:

Unpack circle

Converts it into a square:

Convert circle into square

And packs the square in a new container:

Pack square

Here’s the definition of map for Mono<T> and Flux<T>:

// For Mono
public final <R> Mono<R> map(
    Function<? super T,? extends R> mapper
// For Flux
public final <V> Flux<V> map(
    Function<? super T,? extends V> mapper

For example, if we have a Mono of String that we want to convert into a Mono of LocalDate:

  • T would be String
  • R (V in the case of Flux) would be LocalDate

We’ll need a Function of type Function<String, LocalDate> to make the conversion. For example:

Function<String, LocalDate> stringToDateFunction = s -> 

This way, we can use the function with the map operator to transform a Mono<String> to a Mono<LocalDate>:

Mono<String> monoString = Mono.just("2022-01-01");
Mono<LocalDate> monoDate =;

monoDate.subscribe(d -> 

For Flux, we can use the same function, there are no differences:

Flux<String> fluxString = Flux.just(
    "2022-01-02", "2022-01-03", "2022-01-04"
Flux<LocalDate> fluxDate =;

fluxDate.subscribe(d -> 

Notice two things.

One. map passes the emitted value to the function, it doesn’t pass the whole Mono or Flux object.

So, since we’re not required to work with asynchronous types, just with plain types, it is said that map works with synchronous functions. You don’t need to perform asynchronous operations inside these functions.

This doesn’t mean that you can perform blocking operations (like a database query) inside these functions. Well, technically you can, but this defeats the purpose of reactive programming.

However, you can use imperative programming inside the function if you want:

Function<String, Date> stringToDateImperativeFunction = s -> {
    if(s != null && s.contains("-")) {
        return LocalDate.parse(
    } else {
Mono<String> monoString = Mono.just("2022-01-05");
Mono<LocalDate> monoDate =;

monoDate.subscribe(d -> System.out.println(

Simple logic like the above can be replaced by operators that we’ll review later, but, for example, if your logic involves complex branching or loops and you think imperative programming adds more clarity to the code, you can use it without problems.

And two. The values returned by the map function will be wrapped inside a new Publisher.

If the Function returns an Integer, you’ll have a Mono or Flux of type Integer:

Mono<Integer> monoInteger = Mono.just(1)
    .map(i -> i * 2);


If the Function returns a list of Integer, you’ll have a Mono or Flux of type List<Integer>:

Mono<List<Integer>> monoListInteger = Mono.just(1)
    .map(i -> Arrays.asList(1));


See the problem?

You’ll have a container inside another container.

This can be a problem because sometimes you’ll have methods that will return container types such as List or even asynchronous types like Mono and Flux, and then you’ll want to perform another operation on the value, not on the container (Mono or Flux):

    .map(i -> asyncTransformation(i))
    .map(j -> j * 10)  // Compiler error, 
                       // the type of j is Mono<Integer>

// ...
Mono<Integer> asyncTransformation(int i) {
    // Modify i in some way
    return Mono.just(i);

In the above example, the first map operator will put in a Mono the returned value of the asyncTransformation(int) method. This way, you’ll have a Mono inside another Mono, a Mono<Mono<Integer>>.

The second map operator will unpack the value of that Mono so the function it takes can receive an argument of type Mono<Integer>, not Integer.

To solve this problem, we have the flatMap operator.