Migrating to Expressive 2.0

Last week, we released Expressive 2. A new major version implies breaking changes, which often poses a problem when migrating. That said, we did a lot of work behind the scenes to try and ensure that migrations can happen without too much effort, including providing migration tools to ease the transition.

In this tutorial, we will detail migrating an existing Expressive application from version 1 to version 2.

How we tested this

We used Adam Culp's expressive-blastoff repository as a test-bed for this tutorial, and you can follow along from there if you want, by checking out the 1.0 tag of that repository:

$ git clone
$ cd expressive-blastoff
$ git checkout 1.0
$ composer install

We have also successfully migrated a number of other applications, including the Zend Framework website itself, using essentially the same approach. As is the case with any such tutorial, your own experience may vary.

Updating dependencies

First, create a new feature branch for the migration, to ensure you do not clobber working code. If you are using git, this might look like this:

$ git checkout -b feature/expressive-2

If you have not yet installed dependencies, we recommend doing so:

$ composer install

Now, we'll update dependencies to get Expressive 2. Doing so on an existing project requires a number of other updates as well:

  • You will need to update whichever router implementation you use, as we have released new major versions of all routers, to take advantage of a new major version of the zend-expressive-router RouterInterface. You can pin these to ^2.0.

  • You will need to update the zend-expressive-helpers package, as it now also depends on the new RouterInterface changes. You can pin this to ^3.0.

  • You will need to update your template renderer, if you have one installed. These received minor version bumps in order to add compatibility with the new zend-expressive-helpers release; however, since we'll be issuing a require statement to upgrade Expressive, we need to specify the new template renderer version as well. Constraints for the supported renderers are:

    • zendframework/zend-expressive-platesrenderer:^1.2
    • zendframework/zend-expressive-twigrenderer:^1.3
    • zendframework/zend-expressive-zendviewrenderer:^1.3

As an example, if you are using the recommended packages zendframework/zend-expressive-fastroute and zendframework/zend-expressive-platesrenderer, you will update to Expressive 2.0 using the following statement:

$ composer update --with-dependencies "zendframework/zend-expressive:^2.0" \
> "zendframework/zend-expressive-fastroute:^2.0" \
> "zendframework/zend-expressive-helpers:^3.0" \
> "zendframework/zend-expressive-platesrenderer:^1.2"

At this point, try out your site. In many cases, it should continue to "just work."

Common errors

We say should for a reason. There are a number of features that will not work, but were not commonly used by end-users, including accessing properties on the request/response decorators that Stratigility 1 shipped (on which Expressive 1 was based), and usage of Stratigility 1 "error middleware" (which was removed in the version 2 releases). While these were documented, many users were not aware of the features and/or did not use them. If you did, however, you will notice your site will not run following the upgrade. Don't worry; we cover tools that will solve these issues in the next section!


At this point, there's a few more steps you should take to fully migrate your application; in some cases, your application is currently broken, and will require these changes to work in the first place!

We provide CLI tooling that assists in these migrations via the package zendframework/zend-expressive-tooling. Add this as a development requirement to your application now:

$ composer require --dev --update-with-dependencies zendframework/zend-expressive-tooling

(The --update-with-dependencies may be necessary to pick up newer versions of zend-stdlib and zend-code, among others.)

Expressive 1 was based on Stratigility 1, which decorated the request and response objects with wrappers that provide access to the original incoming request, URI, and response. With Stratigility 2 and Expressive 2, these decorators have been removed; however access to these artifacts is available via request attributes. As such, we provide a tool to scan for usage of these and fix them when possible. Let's invoke it now:

$ ./vendor/bin/expressive-migrate-original-messages scan

(If your code is in a directory other than src/, then use the --help switch for options on specifying that directory.)

Most likely the tool won't find anything. In some cases, it will find something, and try to correct it. The one thing it cannot correct are calls to getOriginalResponse(); in such cases, the tool details how to correct those problems, and in what files they occur.

Next, we'll scan for legacy error middleware. This was middleware defined in Stratigility with an alternate signature:

function (
    ServerRequestInterface $request,
    ResponseInterface $response,
    callable $next
) : ResponseInterface

Such middleware was invoked by calling $next with a third argument:

$response = $next($request, $response, $error);

This style of middleware has been removed from Stratigility 2 and Expressive 2, and will not work at all. We provide another tool for finding both error middleware, as well as invocations of error middleware:

$ ./vendor/bin/expressive-scan-for-error-middleware scan

(If your code is in a directory other than src/, then use the --help switch for options on specifying that directory.)

This tool does not change any code, but it will tell you files that contain problems, and give you information on how to correct the issues.

Finally, we'll migrate to a programmatic pipeline. In Expressive 1, the skeleton defined the pipeline and routes via configuration. Many users have indicated that using the Expressive API tends to be easier to learn and understand than the configuration; additionally, IDEs and static analyzers are better able to determine if programmatic pipelines and routing are correct than configuration-driven ones.

As with the other migration tasks, we provide a tool for this:

$ ./vendor/bin/expressive-pipeline-from-config generate

This tool loads your existing configuration, and then does the following:

  • Creates config/autoload/, which contains directives to tell Expressive to ignore configured pipelines and routing, and defines dependencies for new error handling and pipeline middleware.
  • Creates config/pipeline.php with your application middleware pipeline.
  • Creates config/routes.php with your application routing definitions.
  • Updates public/index.php to include the above two files prior to calling $app->run().

The tool will also tell you if it encounters legacy error middleware in your configuration; if it does, it skips adding directives to compose it in the application pipeline, but notifies you it is doing so. Be aware of that, if you depended on the feature previously; in most cases, if you've been following this tutorial step-by-step, you've already eliminated them.

At this point, try out your application again! If all went well, this should "just work."

Bonus steps!

While the above will get your application migrated, V2 of the skeleton application offers three additional features that were not present in the original v1 releases:

  • self-invoking function in public/index.php in order to prevent global variable declarations.
  • ability to define and/or use middleware modules, via zend-config-aggregator.
  • development mode.

Self-invoking function

The point of this change is to prevent addition of variables into the $GLOBAL scope. This is done by creating a self-invoking function around the directives in public/index.php that create and use variables.

After completing the earlier steps, you should have lines like the following in your public/index.php:

/** @var \Interop\Container\ContainerInterface $container */
$container = require 'config/container.php';

/** @var \Zend\Expressive\Application $app */
$app = $container->get(\Zend\Expressive\Application::class);
require 'config/pipeline.php';
require 'config/routes.php';

We'll create a self-invoking function around them. If you are using PHP 7+, this looks like the following:

(function () {
  /** @var \Interop\Container\ContainerInterface $container */
  $container = require 'config/container.php';

  /** @var \Zend\Expressive\Application $app */
  $app = $container->get(\Zend\Expressive\Application::class);
  require 'config/pipeline.php';
  require 'config/routes.php';

If you're still using PHP 5.6, you need to use call_user_func():

call_user_func(function () {
  /** @var \Interop\Container\ContainerInterface $container */
  $container = require 'config/container.php';

  /** @var \Zend\Expressive\Application $app */
  $app = $container->get(\Zend\Expressive\Application::class);
  require 'config/pipeline.php';
  require 'config/routes.php';


zendframework/zend-config-aggregator is at the heart of the modular middleware system. It works as follows:

  • Modules are just libraries or packages that define a ConfigProvider class. These classes are stateless and define an __invoke() method that returns an array of configuration.
  • The config/config.php file then uses Zend\ConfigAggregator\ConfigAggregator to, well, aggregate configuration from a variety of sources, including ConfigProvider classes, as well as other specialized providers (e.g., PHP file provider for aggregating PHP configuration files, array provider for supplying hard-coded array configuration, etc.). This package provides built-in support for configuration caching as well.

We also provide a Composer plugin, zend-component-installer, that works with configuration files that utilize the ConfigAggregator. It executes during install operations, and checks the package being installed for configuration indicating it provides a ConfigProvider; if so, it will then prompt you, asking if you want to add it to your configuration. This is a great way to automate addition of dependencies and module-specific configuration to your application!

To get started, let's add zend-config-aggregator to our application:

$ composer require zendframework/zend-config-aggregator

We'll also add the zend-component-installer, but as a development requirement only:

$ composer require --dev zendframework/zend-component-installer

(Note: it will likely already have been installed with zend-expressive-tooling; requiring it like this, however, ensures it stays present if you decide to remove that package later.)

To update your application, you will need to update your config/config.php file.

If you've made no modifications to the shipped version, it will look like the following:


use Zend\Stdlib\ArrayUtils;
use Zend\Stdlib\Glob;

 * Configuration files are loaded in a specific order. First ``global.php``, then ``*.global.php``.
 * then ``local.php`` and finally ``*.local.php``. This way local settings overwrite global settings.
 * The configuration can be cached. This can be done by setting ``config_cache_enabled`` to ``true``.
 * Obviously, if you use closures in your config you can't cache it.

$cachedConfigFile = 'data/cache/app_config.php';

$config = [];
if (is_file($cachedConfigFile)) {
    // Try to load the cached config
    $config = include $cachedConfigFile;
} else {
    // Load configuration from autoload path
    foreach (Glob::glob('config/autoload/{{,*.}global,{,*.}local}.php', Glob::GLOB_BRACE) as $file) {
        $config = ArrayUtils::merge($config, include $file);

    // Cache config if enabled
    if (isset($config['config_cache_enabled']) && $config['config_cache_enabled'] === true) {
        file_put_contents($cachedConfigFile, '<?php return ' . var_export($config, true) . ';');

// Return an ArrayObject so we can inject the config as a service in Aura.Di
// and still use array checks like ``is_array``.
return new ArrayObject($config, ArrayObject::ARRAY_AS_PROPS);

You can replace it directly with this, then:


use Zend\ConfigAggregator\ArrayProvider;
use Zend\ConfigAggregator\ConfigAggregator;
use Zend\ConfigAggregator\PhpFileProvider;

$cacheConfig = [
    'config_cache_path' => 'data/config-cache.php',

$aggregator = new ConfigAggregator([
    new ArrayProvider($cacheConfig),

    new PhpFileProvider('config/autoload/{{,*.}global,{,*.}local}.php'),
], $cacheConfig['config_cache_path']);

return $aggregator->getMergedConfig();

If you want, you can set the config_cache_path to match the one from your previous version; this should only be necessary if you have tooling already in place for cache clearing, however.

ZF components

Any Zend Framework component that provides service configuration exposes a ConfigProvider. This means that if you add these to your application after making the above changes, they will expose their services to your application immediately following installation!

If you've installed ZF components prior to this change, check to see which ones expose ConfigProvider classes (you can look for a ConfigProvider under their namespace, or look for an extra.zf.config-provider declaration in their composer.json). If you find any, add them to your config/config.php file; using the fully qualified class name of the provider. As an example: \Zend\Db\ConfigProvider::class.

Development mode

We have been using zf-development-mode with zend-mvc and Apigility applications for a few years now, and feel it offers an elegant solution for shipping standard development configuration for use with your team, as well as toggling back and forth between development and production configuration. (That said, config/autoload/*.local.php files may clearly vary in your development environment versus your production environment, so this is not entirely fool-proof!)

Let's add it to our application:

$ composer require --dev zfcampus/zf-development-mode

Note that we're adding it as a development requirement; chances are, you do not want to accidentally enable it in production!

Next, we need to add a couple files to our tree. The first we'll add is config/development.config.php.dist, with the following contents:


 * File required to allow enablement of development mode.
 * For use with the zf-development-mode tool.
 * Usage:
 *  $ composer development-disable
 *  $ composer development-enable
 *  $ composer development-status
 * Provide your own development-mode settings by editing the file
 * `config/autoload/development.local.php.dist`.
 * Because this file is aggregated last, it simply ensures:
 * - The `debug` flag is _enabled_.
 * - Configuration caching is _disabled_.

use Zend\ConfigAggregator\ConfigAggregator;

return [
    'debug' => true,
    ConfigAggregator::ENABLE_CACHE => false,

Next, we'll add a config/autoload/development.local.php.dist. The contents of this one will vary based on what you are using in your application.

If you are not using Whoops for error reporting, start with this:

return [

If you are, this is a chance to configure that correctly for your newly updated application. Create the file with these contents:


use Whoops\Handler\PrettyPageHandler;
use Zend\Expressive\Container;
use Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ErrorResponseGenerator;
use Zend\Expressive\Whoops;
use Zend\Expressive\WhoopsPageHandler;

return [
    'dependencies' => [
        'invokables' => [
            WhoopsPageHandler::class => PrettyPageHandler::class,
        'factories' => [
            ErrorResponseGenerator::class => Container\WhoopsErrorResponseGeneratorFactory::class,
            Whoops::class => Container\WhoopsFactory::class,

    'whoops' => [
        'json_exceptions' => [
            'display'    => true,
            'show_trace' => true,
            'ajax_only'  => true,

Next, if you started with the V1 skeleton application, you will likely have a file named config/autoload/errorhandler.local.php, and it will have similar contents, for the purpose of seeding the legacy "final handler" system. You can now remove that file.

After that's done, we need to add some directives so that git will ignore the non-dist files. Edit the .gitignore file in your project's root directory to add the following entry:


The config/autoload/.gitignore file should already have a rule that omits *.local.php.

Now we need to have our configuration load the development configuration if it's present. The following assumes you already converted your application to use zend-config-aggregator. Add the following line as the last element of the array passed when instantiating your ConfigAggregator:

    new PhpFileProvider('config/development.config.php'),

If the file is missing, that provider will return an empty array; if it's present, it returns whatever configuration the file returns. By making it the last element merged, we can do things like override configuration caching, and force debug mode, which is what our config/development.config.php.dist file does!

Finally, let's add some convenience scripts to composer. Open your composer.json file, find the scripts section, and add the following to it:

        "development-disable": "zf-development-mode disable",
        "development-enable": "zf-development-mode enable",
        "development-status": "zf-development-mode status",

Now we can try it out!


$ composer development-status

This should tell you that development mode is currently disabled.

Next, run:

$ composer development-enable

This will enable development mode.

If you want to test and ensure you're in development mode, edit one of your middleware to have it raise an exception, and see what happens!

Clean up

If your application is working correctly, you can now do some additional cleanup.

  • Edit your config/autoload/ file to remove the middleware_pipeline key and its contents.
  • Edit your config/autoload/ file to remove the routes key and its contents.
  • Search for any references to a FinalHandler within your dependency configuration, and remove them.

At this point, you should have a fully working Expressive 2 application!

Final step: Updating your middleware

Now that the initial migration is complete, you can take some more steps!

One of the big changes is that Expressive 2 prefers middleware implementing http-interop/http-middleware's MiddlewareInterface. This requires a few changes to your middleware.

First, let's look at the interfaces defined by http-interop/http-middleware:

namespace Interop\Http\ServerMiddleware;

use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;

interface MiddlewareInterface
     * @return ResponseInterface
    public function process(ServerRequestInterface $request, DelegateInterface $delegate);

interface DelegateInterface
     * @return ResponseInterface
    public function process(ServerRequestInterface $request);

The first interface defines middleware. Unlike Expressive 1, http-interop middleware does not receive a response instance. There are a variety of reasons for this, but Anthony Ferrara sums them up best.

Another difference is that instead of a callable $next argument, we have a DelegateInterface $delegate. This provides better type-safety, and, because each of the MiddlewareInterface and DelegateInterface define the same process() method, ensures that implementations of middleware and delegates are discrete and do not mix concerns. Delegates are classes that can process a request if the current middleware cannot fully do so. Examples might include middleware that will inject additional response headers, or middleware that only acts when certain request criteria are present (such as HTTP caching headers).

The upshot is that when rewriting your middleware to use the new interfaces, you need to do several things:

  • First, import the http-interop interfaces into your class file:

    use Interop\Http\ServerMiddleware\DelegateInterface;
    use Interop\Http\ServerMiddleware\MiddlewareInterface;
  • Second, rename the __invoke() method to process().

  • Third, update the signature of your new process method to be:

    public function process(ServerRequestInterface $request, DelegateInterface $delegate)
  • Fourth, look for calls to $next(). As an example, the following:

    return $next($request, $response);


    return $delegate->process($request);

    These updates will vary on a case-by-case basis: in some cases, you may be calling methods on the request instance; in other cases, you may be capturing the returned response

  • Look for cases where you were using the passed $response instance, and eliminate those. You may do so as follows:

    • Use the response returned by calling $delegate->process() instead.
    • Create a new concrete response instance and operate on it.
    • Compose a "response prototype" in your middleware if you do not want to create a new response instance directly, and operate on it. Doing so will require that you update any factory associated with the middleware class, however.

As an example, let's look at a simple middleware that adds a response header:

namespace App\Middleware;

use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;

class TheClacksMiddleware
    public function __invoke(ServerRequestInterface $request, ResponseInterface $response, callable $next)
        $response = $next($request, $response);
        return $response->withHeader('X-Clacks-Overhead', ['GNU Terry Pratchett']);

When we refactor it to be http-interop middleware, it becomes:

namespace App\Middleware;

use Interop\Http\ServerMiddleware\DelegateInterface;
use Interop\Http\ServerMiddleware\MiddlewareInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;

class TheClacksMiddleware implements MiddlewareInterface
    public function process(ServerRequestInterface $request, DelegateInterface $delegate)
        $response = $delegate->process($request);
        return $response->withHeader('X-Clacks-Overhead', ['GNU Terry Pratchett']);


Migration consists of:

  • Updating dependencies.
  • Running migration scripts provided by zendframework/zend-expressive-tooling.
  • Optionally adding a self-invoking function around code creating variables in public/index.php.
  • Optionally updating your application to use zendframework/zend-config-aggregator for configuration aggregation.
  • Optionally adding zfcampus/zf-development-mode integration to your application.
  • Optionally updating your middleware to implement http-interop/http-middleware.

As noted, many of these changes are optional. Your application will continue to run without them. Updating them will modernize your application, however, and make it more familiar to developers familiar with the Expressive 2 skeleton.

We hope this guide gets you successfully migrated! If you run into issues not covered here, please let us know via an issue on the Expressive repository.



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