Expressive 3.0.0RC1 is now ready!

We've been working diligently the past three weeks to finalize API changes and new features for the Expressive 3.0 release, and are pleased to announce immediate availability of our first release candidate, 3.0.0rc1!

Why RC and not beta?

Why the jump from alpha to release candidate? Most of our planned features also contained API changes, whether these were namespace or class name changes, signature changes due to adopting type hints, or wholesale refactors. As a result, we held an extended alpha release cycle so that we could continue making API changes as we worked on new features. In the last three weeks, we've continued to release new alpha versions of components, which users were picking up as they updated; surprisingly, the majority of these continued to work due to efforts at backwards compatibility that we made along the way.

We feel at this point that we've identified and implemented all desired changes both in terms of API as well as features, and announced a feature freeze yesterday. This puts us in a status more analogous to release candidates than beta (where features could still be added).

In this post, we'll cover:

Getting started with RC1

To start a new project based on 3.0.0rc1, use Composer to create a new project:

$ composer create-project "zendframework/zend-expressive-skeleton:3.0.0rc1"

If you want to install to a custom directory name, use the following instead:

$ composer create-project zendframework/zend-expressive-skeleton {your directory} 3.0.0rc1

The installer will prompt you for a number of things:

  • What style install (minimal, flat, or modular).
  • Which DI container to use.
  • Which router to use.
  • Which template engine to use.
  • Which error handler to use.

We recommend the defaults, except in the case of a template engine; in that case, choose the one you're most familiar with.

Once the installer has gathered its information, it will begin installing dependencies, enable development mode, and then let you know it's done!

You can create your first request handler to handle an incoming request using our tooling:

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


Run the following command to find out what other commands we expose:

$ composer expressive help

You can also get help on individual commands:

$ composer expressive help handler:create

This will create a new class and tell you where in the filesystem you'll find it; it will also create a factory and tell you about that. If you have enabled a template engine, it will also create a template file and tell you where it is.

To route to it, edit the file config/routes.php and add the following line within the callback it defines:

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

Next, fire up the built-in web server:

$ composer serve

and navigate to http://localhost:8080/hello/world to see your handiwork!

You can also create middleware to add to your application pipeline, or within route-specific pipelines. From here, you have the basic building blocks and application structure to get started!

Migrating from alpha3 to rc1

While a ton has changed between the 3.0.0alpha3 release and today, most applications built on alpha3 should be able to continue working as they were before, due to a number of backwards compatibility efforts we put into place to aid migration both for alpha users, as well as v2 users.

However, we recommend making the following changes to your application as well, to ensure it follows the structure that will be used in the final stable release.


Whenever you see a constraint with the format ^X.Y.ZalphaW || ^X.Y, remove the || ^X.Y part of the constraint. This ensures that a previous alpha version cannot be installed if you use the --prefer-lowest flag when running composer update. More stable versions will still be installed when they become available.


Ensure the following configuration providers are present:


Most likely, you will have been prompted to install these already anyways, but double-check to be sure.


alpha3 refered to the following classes via import statements; they should be updated per the following table:

alpha3 reference rc1 reference
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\DispatchMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\DispatchMiddleware
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ImplicitHeadMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\ImplicitHeadMiddleware
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ImplicitOptionsMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\ImplicitOptionsMiddleware
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\NotFoundMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Handler\NotFoundHandler
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\RouteMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\PathBasedRoutingMiddleware

Also add the following import statement:

use Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\MethodNotAllowedMiddleware;

Change the line reading:




Change the line reading:




Changes between alpha3 and rc1

A number of substantial changes were released within the core Expressive packages. We'll detail them package-by-package, providing cumulative changes (vs. release-by-release changes), with general changes affecting all packages listed first.

General changes

Potentially the most far-reaching change was a decision to no longer compose response prototypes in classes that need to produce a response, but rather response factories. All classes that previously accepted a Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface instance (with the exception of Zend\Stratigility\Middleware\DoublePassMiddleware) now accept a PHP callable capable of producing a ResponseInterface instance. The simplest form, using zend-diactoros, would look like the following:

function () {
    return new Response();

We made this change for a variety of reasons.

First, not all containers allow marking an instance as non-shared. This meant that a ResponseInterface service would return the same instance each time. While this is generally fine, as the various with*() methods produce new instances, it falls apart when you write to the response body, as the body is the one part of a response that is mutable. (We often addressed this fact by also composing a stream factory, for producing an empty body stream to use with a response.) While we could solve this problem by indicating the ResponseInterface service was non-shared, this would not work on all containers, and led to convoluted solutions such as using "virtual services" to refer to discrete instances.

Second, an upcoming specification from PHP-FIG will largely address this. The proposed PSR-17 defines a number of interfaces describing factories for PSR-7 HTTP messages.

By changing our classes to compose a callable factory, we accomplish several things:

  • We can now share the ResponseInterface service safely, and re-use it in any service that needs to produce a response. Since the factory will always return a new response instance, sharing the factory for the ResponseInterface service is safe.

  • When PSR-17 is available, we will be able to decorate its response factory via a closure and continue to use it. Expressive applications will be immediately PSR-17 compatible.

Solving type-safety issues

The one problem with passing a PHP callable for the factory is that we have no guarantees that it actually returns a PSR-7 ResponseInterface!

To solve this, each class that composes a response factory re-assigns it as follows:

$this->responseFactory = function () use ($responseFactory) : ResponseInterface {
    return $responseFactory();

This approach ensures that a TypeError is raised if the factory returns any other type!


Stratigility received the following changes since the Expressive alpha3 release.

  • The Zend\Stratigility\Middleware\ErrorHandler and NotFoundHandler classes were updated to accept response factories instead of prototypes, as outlined in the previous section.

  • All middleware and handlers, as well as the Next implementation, were marked final.


zend-expressive-router underwent a massive rewrite. The rewrite can be characterized as two major changes: routes and route results are now middleware, and all middleware from zend-expressive other than the LazyLoadingMiddleware was moved to this package.

One general change was made: the package now ships a ConfigProvider class and exposes it to zend-component-installer. This allows it to ship factories for middleware it exposes and ensure that middleware can be used immediately within Expressive applications.

Routes and RouteResults

Zend\Expressive\Router\Route now implements the PSR-15 MiddlewareInterface. Its process() method proxies to the middleware passed to its constructor.

Zend\Expressive\Router\RouteResult also now implements MiddlewareInterface. In the case of a successful result, its process() method will proxy to the route matched. In the case of a failed match, the method instead acts as a no-op, proxying directly to the handler argument. Due to these changes, we felt we could remove the getMatchedMiddleware() method; the middleware is still accessible via the composed Route class, and, generally speaking, you should not need direct access to it.

These changes greatly simplify the DispatchMiddleware, as it no longer needs to check if a successful match occurred, and can instead process the route result directly.

Additionally, the RouteMiddleware::process() logic was simplified, as it no longer needs to conditionally inject a RouteResult as a request attribute; it does it regardless of the result of matching.


All previously provided middleware (RouteMiddleware, PathBasedRoutingMiddleware, and DispatchMiddleware) were moved to the Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware namespace.

Additionally, we moved the following middleware from zend-expressive into this package:

zend-expressive middleware class zend-expressive-router middleware class
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ImplicitHeadMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\ImplicitHeadMiddleware
Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ImplicitOptionsMiddleware Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\ImplicitOptionsMiddleware

As detailed in the General changes section, each was modified to compose a response factory instead of a prototype.

These middleware were imported into zend-expressive-router as they are closely related to routing:

  • ImplicitHeadMiddleware introspects a RouteResult in order to return a response if a HEAD request was made and other conditions are met.

  • ImplicitOptionsMiddleware introspects a RouteResult in order to return a response if an OPTIONS request was made and other conditions are met.

We also refactored the RouteMiddleware (and, by extension, the PathBasedRoutingMiddleware) in order to extract the functionality for indicating a 405 Method Not Allowed response. This functionality is now shipped in a new class, Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\MethodNotAllowedMiddleware, which should be piped immediately following the RouteMiddleware or PathBasedRoutingMiddleware. This solves a problem several users have reported: we previously had no ability to modify how a 405 response is returned. You can now pipe alternative middleware for this feature if you desire using templates, Problem Details, or other formats.


The zend-expressive package also had a large number of changes. The majority were related to exporting functionality to more relevant packages; other changes were made to provide backwards compatibility with previous alpha releases, as well as v2 releases.

API/Behavior changes.

  • Zend\Expressive\Container\ApplicationConfigInjectionDelegator now raises an exception if the $callback argument produces an instance of anything other than a Zend\Expressive\Application instance. Previously, it would return it immediately. Now, it raises an exception in order to detail to the user what changes they need to make to their application.

  • The exceptions Zend\Expressive\Exception\InvalidMiddlewareException and MissingDependencyException were updated to implement the PSR-11 ContainerExceptionInterface.

New classes

  • Zend\Expressive\Response\ServerRequestErrorResponseGenerator is an invokable class capable of generating a response from a Throwable as provided by Zend\HttpHandlerRunner\RequestHandlerRunner. The class Zend\Expressive\Container\ServerRequestErrorResponseGeneratorFactory was updated to create and return an instance of this class.

  • Zend\Expressive\Response\ErrorResponseGeneratorTrait contains the bulk of the logic for generating an error response used both by the above class, as well as the existing Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ErrorResponseGenerator.

New factories

The package provides two new factories:

  • Zend\Expressive\Container\ResponseFactoryFactory will return a PHP callable capable of producing a PSR-7 ResponseInterface. By default, the class provides a closure around instantiation of a zend-diactoros Response instance. The package maps it to the service Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface.

  • Zend\Expressive\Container\StreamFactoryFactory will return a PHP callable capable of producing a PSR-7 StreamInterface. By default, the class provides a closure around instantiation of a zend-diactoros Stream instance backed by a writable php://temp resource. The package maps it to the service Psr\Http\Message\StreamInterface.

Middleware removals

The following middleware were removed; in all cases, they were added to the zend-expressive-router package:

  • Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ImplicitHeadMiddleware
  • Zend\Expressive\Middleware\ImplicitOptionsMiddleware

The class Zend\Expressive\Middleware\NotFoundMiddleware was renamed to Zend\Expressive\Handler\NotFoundHandler, and now implements the PSR-15 RequestHandlerInterface (instead of MiddlewareInterface). The class now also composes a response factory instead of a response prototype. (Its related factory does this for you automatically.)

Factory removals

The following factories were removed, as they are either unnecessary, or provided by other packages:

  • Zend\Expressive\Container\RouteMiddlewareFactory (now provided in zend-expressive-router)
  • Zend\Expressive\Container\DispatchMiddlewareFactory (now provided in zend-expressive-router)
  • Zend\Expressive\Container\ImplicitHeadMiddlewareFactory (now provided in zend-expressive-router)
  • Zend\Expressive\Container\ImplicitOptionsMiddlewareFactory (now provided in zend-expressive-router)


We spent a fair amount of time on zend-expressive-tooling to provide both migration tools as well as tools to make you more productive during development. In particular, we added the following:

  • migrate:interop-middleware will migrate middleware implementing http-interop interfaces to PSR-15. (This was in previous releases, but not highlighted before!)

  • migrate:middleware-to-request-handler will scan a directory (your src/ tree by default) for middleware. When it detects middleware that does not call on its handler argument, it converts it to a request handler.

  • action:create is an alias to the handler:create detailed in the previous post on alpha3, and exposes the same set of functionality for creating a PSR-15 request handler. Some developers prefer the "Action" verbiage, and requested this feature.

  • factory:create will generate a factory class file for the given class, using PHP's Reflection API. The generated file will be a sibling to the original class file. The functionality also auto-registers the class and factory in your configuration.

    The middleware:create, handler:create, and action:create commands now all use this functionality to create a factory for the class generated and wire it in your application configuration. (You may disable this capability via a CLI switch.)

Additionally, we added template awareness to the handler:create and action:create commands. By default, if they detect a Zend\Expressive\Template\TemplateRendererInterface service in your container, they will:

  • Generate a template named after the root namespace and newly generated class (minus any Handler, Action, or Middleware suffix).
  • Place a template file in the configured template path for the root namespace, and named after the generated class.
  • Modify the generated class to accept a TemplateRendererInterface instance to its constructor, and render the named template to a zend-diactoros HtmlResponse.

The commands allow you to disable template capabilities via a switch, as well as provide an alternate template namespace, template name, and template file extension.

Ecosystem updates

The skeleton releases cover the core functionality of Expressive: Stratigility, Expressive itself, routing, template engines, and the helpers. However, the Expressive ecosystem includes other functionality as well:

  • zend-expressive-session and its adapters
  • zend-expressive-authentication and its adapters
  • zend-expressive-authorization and its adapters
  • zend-problem-details
  • zend-expressive-hal

We have provided alpha releases of each of these packages to provide the following:

  • PSR-15 support
  • Response factory (vs response prototype) support
  • Compatibility with core alpha and RC releases

As such, if you are using the RC1 skeleton (or have updated your alpha3 skeleton), you will be able to use these packages without issue; installing them will grab these latest alpha versions, which will be compatible with the stable release (and for which their own stable releases will work with the Expressive v3 release).


So, we're done, right?


There's still work that remains. In particular:

  • We plan to version the existing documentation. This will allow us to provide version-specific docs, without confusing users about different usage and declarations.

  • We need to provide full documentation for the v3 release.

  • We will be issuing a 2.2 release with:

    • Deprecations, based on the v3 changes.
    • Backports of select v3 changes in order to aid migration.
  • We need to document migration from v2.2 to v3, and potentially provide automated tooling.

  • We anticipate users will find bugs in the RC, and will be actively incorporating bugfixes before the stable release.

Our target date is still 15 March 2018, but we need your help! Help by testing the RC1 skeleton and providing your feedback. As we prepare the v2.2 release, help by testing tooling and applying our migration documentation to your applications, and let us know what works and what doesn't. If you find features that are not documented, let us know by filing issues or asking questions in our Slack.

We look forward to the stable release, and the positive impact PSR-15 will have on the PHP ecosystem!


  • 2018-03-01: Fixes a syntax error in the instructions for creating a project. Additionally, fixes a grammatical issue in one of the headers.


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