Expressive 3 Alpha 3

Today, we pushed the final changes and fixes that culminated in the Expressive Installer and Skeleton 3.0.0alpha3 release!

The alpha releases have a ton of great features; keep reading to find out more!

Alpha 1 and Alpha 2

We released 3.0.0alpha1 on Tuesday, 6 February 2018, and 3.0.0alpha2 on Wednesday, 7 February 2018. While they were usable, there were a few issues we discovered that we felt should be addressed before a public announcement. 3.0.0alpha3 represents a stable, testable release.


Currently, we do not have a completed migration path for 3.0; this is our work in the coming weeks. Additionally, there may yet be changes coming as we get your feedback. As such, we recommend:

  • Install a fresh project.
  • Do not use the alpha release(s) in production!

To create a new project based on 3.0.0alpha3, use Composer:

$ composer create-project "zendframework/zend-expressive-skeleton:3.0.0alpha3"

This will install the skeleton, and then start prompting you for specific components you want to install, including choice of PSR-11 container, choice of router, choice of template engine, and choice of error handler. Generally speaking, we recommend the default values, except in the case of the template engine (which defaults to none; choose the engine you're most comfortable with).

Once your selections are made, the skeleton will install dependencies; when it is complete, you can enter the newly created directory to begin development:

$ cd zend-expressive-skeleton

Alternate directory

You can specify an alternate directory when calling composer create-project; when you do, you can also specify the specific version separate from the root package:

$ composer create-project zendframework/zend-expressive-skeleton expressive 3.0.0alpha3

Creating middleware

Version 3 of Expressive will work with PSR-15 (HTTP server request handlers) middleware and request handlers only. You will be writing these to create your application.

Other supported types

Expressive 3 also supports other types of middleware definitions, though they are not recommended:

  • Callable middleware using the same signature as PSR-15. These can be piped and routed to directly.
  • Callable double-pass middleware; these must be decorated using the Zend\Stratigility\doublePassMiddleware() utility class — which also requires a PSR-7 response prototype.

The skeleton project now ships with zend-expressive-tooling by default, and maps its expressive command as a composer command:

$ composer expressive help

To create your first middleware:

$ composer expressive middleware:create "App\XClacksOverheadMiddleware"

This will create the class App\XClacksOverheadMiddleware, and tell you where it has been created. You can then edit it:

namespace App;

use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\MiddlewareInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\RequestHandlerInterface;

class XClacksOverheadMiddleware implements MiddlewareInterface
    public function process(ServerRequestInterface $request, RequestHandlerInterface $handler) : ResponseInterface
        $response = $handler->handle($request);
        return $response->withHeader('X-ClacksOverhead', 'GNU Terry Pratchett');

Once your middleware is created, register it in the container as an invokable, via the config/autoload/ file:

'dependencies' => [
    'invokables' => [
        App\XClacksOverheadMiddleware::class => App\XClacksOverheadMiddleware::class,

Finally, register it in your config/pipeline.php file:

// likely an early statement, before routing

You've just created your first middleware!

Creating handlers

PSR-15 defines two interfaces. In the previous section, we demonstrated implementing the MiddlewareInterface. That interface references another, the RequestHandlerInterface.

Internally, we provide one that maintains the middleware pipeline and the state within the pipeline such that calling handle() advances to the next middleware.

However, there's another place handlers are of interest: for routes.

Most often, when you create a route, the class you write to handle the route will generate a response itself, and never need to delegate to another handler. As such, you can write handlers instead!

Like middleware, the tooling provides a command for creating handlers:

$ composer expressive handler:create "App\Handler\HelloWorldHandler"

This will create a RequestHandlerInterface implementation using the given name, and then tell you where on the filesystem it created it.

For this example, we'll assume you're using zend-diactoros (as it is used in the Expressive skeleton by default), and we'll create a handler that generates a Zend\Diactoros\Response\HtmlResponse. Open the file, and edit the contents to look like the following:


namespace App\Handler;

use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\RequestHandlerInterface;
use Zend\Diactoros\Response\HtmlResponse;

class HelloWorldHandler implements RequestHandlerInterface
    public function handle(ServerRequestInterface $request) : ResponseInterface
        return new HtmlResponse('<h1>Hello, world!</h1>');

Like the XClacksOverhead middleware, We'll register this with the container as an invokable, via the file config/autoload/

'dependencies' => [
    'invokables' => [
        App\Handler\HelloWorldHandler::class => App\Handler\HelloWorldHandler::class,

Finally, we'll route to it via your config/routes.php file:

$app->get('/hello', App\Handler\HelloWorldHandler::class, 'hello');

You've just created your first handler!

Handlers and route-specific pipelines

If you have used Expressive before, you may recall that the various routing methods allowed middleware and middleware pipelines previously. This is still true! The only difference with version 3 is that we also allow request handlers.

In fact, you can add handlers into your middleware pipelines as well! If we wanted the XClacksOverheadMiddleware to only be in that specific route, we could write it as follows:

$app->get('/hello', [
], 'hello')

The only caveat is that handlers always return a response, which means they should always be the last item in a pipeline.

Test it out!

You can use the following command to fire up the PHP built-in web server:

$ composer serve

The command works on Windows and macOS; for Linux users, it will work as long as you have PHP 7.1.14 and later or 7.2.2 and later installed. For those on earlier versions, use the following:

$ php -S -t public/ public/index.php

Once you have, try hitting your new route: http://localhost:8080/hello

You should get your HTML content as defined above! If you introspect the request in your browser (or using a CLI tool such as cURL or HTTPie), you'll also see a X-Clacks-Overhead header from the middleware you created!


Hitting our first alpha releases is a huge milestone, and the culmination of many months of development. We're very excited about the results. In both Stratigility (our middleware foundation library) and Expressive, we have drastically reduced the amount of code, while providing essentially the same feature set (and, in many cases, expanding that feature set!).

In the coming weeks, we'll be developing a final version 2 minor release, 2.2.0, as well as working on documentation and migration tooling. The main goal of the 2.2 release will be to mark deprecated features, provide forward compatible alternatives, and provide tooling to help you migrate to those alternatives.

We also have a few planned features for Expressive 3 to complete. We're working on changes to the zend-component-installer to allow whitelisting packages with configuration providers, so that users will not need to be prompted during initial installation to inject configuration for packages we already know about. We also plan to develop tooling for creating and registering factories based on a given class, and updating the handler:create and middleware:create factories to generate and register factories as well. Also, recently we released version 3 of the zend-di package, and we're considering integrating it by default when zend-servicemanager is configured, to provide auto-wiring of dependencies.

This may sound like quite a bit, but much of it is already in progress, and our plan is to have a stable release by no later than 15 March 2018.

In the meantime: install and test 3.0.0alpha3! Kick its tires, and let us know what works, and, more importantly, what doesn't work, so we can provide you a stable, exciting 3.0.0 release!



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