Programmatic Expressive

Enrico just returned from phpDay, where he spoke about Expressive and the upcoming Zend Framework 3. One piece of feedback he brought back had to do with how people perceive they should be building Expressive applications: many think, based on our examples, that it's completely configuration driven!

As it turns out, this is far from the truth; we developed our API to mimic that of traditional microframeworks, and then built a configuration layer on top of that to allow making substitutions. However, it's not only possible, but quite fun, to mix and match the two ideas!

As an experiment, I took my own website's source code, and made a couple of tweaks:

  • I imported the middleware pipeline from my config/autoload/ file into programmatic declarations inside my public/index.php.
  • I imported the routed middleware definitions from my config/autoload/ file into programmatic declarations inside my public/index.php.

The bits and pieces to remember:

  • Refer to your middleware using fully-qualified class names, just as you would in your configuration. This allows Expressive to pull them from the container, which you are still configuring!
  • Order of operations is important when defining the pipeline and defining routes. The pipeline and routes can be defined separately, however, and I recommend doing so; that way you can look at the overall application pipeline separately from the routing definitions..

Here's what I ended up with.

First, my middleware pipeline configuration becomes only a list of dependencies, to ensure services are wired correctly:

// config/autoload/middleware-pipeline.php
use Mwop\Auth\Middleware as AuthMiddleware;
use Mwop\Auth\MiddlewareFactory as AuthMiddlewareFactory;
use Mwop\Factory\Unauthorized as UnauthorizedFactory;
use Mwop\Redirects;
use Mwop\Unauthorized;
use Mwop\XClacksOverhead;

return [
    'dependencies' => [
        'invokables' => [
            Redirects::class       => Redirects::class,
            XClacksOverhead::class => XClacksOverhead::class,
        'factories' => [
            AuthMiddleware::class => AuthMiddlewareFactory::class,
            Helper\UrlHelperMiddleware::class => Helper\UrlHelperMiddlewareFactory::class,
            Unauthorized::class => UnauthorizedFactory::class,

Similarly, the routing configuration is also now only service configuration:

// config/autoload/
use Mwop\Blog;
use Mwop\ComicsPage;
use Mwop\Contact;
use Mwop\Factory;
use Mwop\HomePage;
use Mwop\Job;
use Mwop\ResumePage;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper\BodyParams\BodyParamsMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\RouterInterface;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\FastRouteRouter;

return [
    'dependencies' => [
        'delegators' => [
            Blog\DisplayPostMiddleware::class => [
        'invokables' => [
            Blog\FeedMiddleware::class           => Blog\FeedMiddleware::class,
            Blog\Console\SeedBlogDatabase::class => Blog\Console\SeedBlogDatabase::class,
            BodyParamsMiddleware::class          => BodyParamsMiddleware::class,
            RouterInterface::class               => FastRouteRouter::class,
        'factories' => [
            Blog\DisplayPostMiddleware::class => Blog\DisplayPostMiddlewareFactory::class,
            Blog\ListPostsMiddleware::class   => Blog\ListPostsMiddlewareFactory::class,
            Contact\LandingPage::class        => Contact\LandingPageFactory::class,
            Contact\Process::class            => Contact\ProcessFactory::class,
            Contact\ThankYouPage::class       => Contact\ThankYouPageFactory::class,
            ComicsPage::class                 => Factory\ComicsPage::class,
            HomePage::class                   => Factory\PageFactory::class,
            Job\GithubFeed::class             => Job\GithubFeedFactory::class,
            ResumePage::class                 => Factory\PageFactory::class,
            'Mwop\OfflinePage'                => Factory\PageFactory::class,

Finally, let's look at the public/index.php. As noted earlier, Expressive defines a similar API to other microframeworks. This means that you can call things like $app->get(), $app->post(), etc. with a route, the middleware to execute, and, in the case of Expressive, the route name (which is used for URI generation within the application). Here's what it looks like when done:

// public/index.php
namespace Mwop;

use Zend\Expressive\Application;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper;

// Delegate static file requests back to the PHP built-in webserver
if (php_sapi_name() === 'cli-server'
    && is_file(__DIR__ . parse_url($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'], PHP_URL_PATH))
) {
    return false;

require_once 'vendor/autoload.php';

$container = require 'config/container.php';
$app       = $container->get(Application::class);

// Piped middleware
$app->pipe('/auth', Auth\Middleware::class);

// Routed middleware

// General pages
$app->get('/', HomePage::class, 'home');
$app->get('/comics', ComicsPage::class, 'comics');
$app->get('/offline', OfflinePage::class, 'offline');
$app->get('/resume', ResumePage::class, 'resume');

// Blog
$app->get('/blog[/]', Blog\ListPostsMiddleware::class, 'blog');
$app->get('/blog/{id:[^/]+}.html', Blog\DisplayPostMiddleware::class, '');
$app->get('/blog/tag/{tag:php}.xml', Blog\FeedMiddleware::class, 'blog.feed.php');
$app->get('/blog/{tag:php}.xml', Blog\FeedMiddleware::class, 'blog.feed.php.also');
$app->get('/blog/tag/{tag:[^/]+}/{type:atom|rss}.xml', Blog\FeedMiddleware::class, 'blog.tag.feed');
$app->get('/blog/tag/{tag:[^/]+}', Blog\ListPostsMiddleware::class, 'blog.tag');
$app->get('/blog/{type:atom|rss}.xml', Blog\FeedMiddleware::class, 'blog.feed');

// Contact form
$app->get('/contact[/]', Contact\LandingPage::class, 'contact');
$app->post('/contact/process', Contact\Process::class, 'contact.process');
$app->get('/contact/thank-you', Contact\ThankYouPage::class, 'contact.thank-your');

// Zend Server jobs
$app->post('/jobs/clear-cache', Job\ClearCache::class, 'job.clear-cache');
$app->post('/jobs/comics', Job\Comics::class, 'job.comics');
$app->post('/jobs/github-feed', Job\GithubFeed::class, 'job.github-feed');


This approach provides a nice middleground between defining the middleware inline:

$app->get('/', function ($request, $response, $next) {
    // ... 
}, 'home');

and the straight configuration approach:

    'routes' => [
            'path'            => '/',
            'middleware'      => HomePage::class,
            'allowed_methods' => ['GET'],
            'name'            => 'home',

        / * ... */

It loses, however, some flexibility: with the configuration-driven approach, we can easily define some routes or pipeline middleware that only execute in development, and ensure the order in which they occur — something not easy to do with the programmatic approach.

The main point in this exercise, however, is to demonstrate that Expressive allows you to choose your own approach, which is the guiding principle behind the project.