Middleware objects give you the ability to ‘wrap’ your application in re-usable, composable layers of Request handling, or response building logic. Visually, your application ends up at the center, and middleware is wrapped around the app like an onion. Here we can see an application wrapped with Routes, Assets, Exception Handling and CORS header middleware.


When a request is handled by your application it enters from the outermost middleware. Each middleware can either delegate the request/response to the next layer, or return a response. Returning a response prevents lower layers from ever seeing the request. An example of that is the AssetMiddleware handling a request for a plugin image during development.


If no middleware take action to handle the request, a controller will be located and have its action invoked, or an exception will be raised generating an error page.

Middleware are part of the new HTTP stack in CakePHP that leverages the PSR-7 request and response interfaces. CakePHP also supports the PSR-15 standard for server request handlers so you can use any PSR-15 compatible middleware available on The Packagist.

Middleware in CakePHP

CakePHP provides several middleware to handle common tasks in web applications:

  • Cake\Error\Middleware\ErrorHandlerMiddleware traps exceptions from the wrapped middleware and renders an error page using the Error & Exception Handling Exception handler.

  • Cake\Routing\AssetMiddleware checks whether the request is referring to a theme or plugin asset file, such as a CSS, JavaScript or image file stored in either a plugin’s webroot folder or the corresponding one for a Theme.

  • Cake\Routing\Middleware\RoutingMiddleware uses the Router to parse the incoming URL and assign routing parameters to the request.

  • Cake\I18n\Middleware\LocaleSelectorMiddleware enables automatic language switching from the Accept-Language header sent by the browser.

  • Cake\Http\Middleware\EncryptedCookieMiddleware gives you the ability to manipulate encrypted cookies in case you need to manipulate cookie with obfuscated data.

  • Cake\Http\Middleware\BodyParserMiddleware allows you to decode JSON, XML and other encoded request bodies based on Content-Type header.

  • CakeHttpMiddlewareHttpsEnforcerMiddleware requires HTTPS to be used.

  • CakeHttpMiddlewareCsrfProtectionMiddleware adds double-submit cookie based CSRF protection to your application.

  • CakeHttpMiddlewareSessionCsrfProtectionMiddleware adds session based CSRF protection to your application.

  • CakeHttpMiddlewareCspMiddleware makes it simpler to add Content-Security-Policy headers to your application.

  • CakeHttpMiddlewareSecurityHeadersMiddleware makes it possible to add security related headers like X-Frame-Options to responses.

Using Middleware

Middleware can be applied to your application globally, to individual routing scopes, or to specific controllers.

To apply middleware to all requests, use the middleware method of your App\Application class. Your application’s middleware hook method will be called at the beginning of the request process, you can use the MiddlewareQueue object to attach middleware:

namespace App;

use Cake\Http\BaseApplication;
use Cake\Http\MiddlewareQueue;
use Cake\Error\Middleware\ErrorHandlerMiddleware;

class Application extends BaseApplication
    public function middleware(MiddlewareQueue $middlewareQueue): MiddlewareQueue
        // Bind the error handler into the middleware queue.
        $middlewareQueue->add(new ErrorHandlerMiddleware());

        // Add middleware by classname.
        // As of 4.5.0 classname middleware are optionally resolved
        // using the DI container. If the class is not found in the
        // container then an instance is created by the middleware queue.

        return $middlewareQueue;

In addition to adding to the end of the MiddlewareQueue you can do a variety of operations:

$layer = new \App\Middleware\CustomMiddleware;

// Added middleware will be last in line.

// Prepended middleware will be first in line.

// Insert in a specific slot. If the slot is out of
// bounds, it will be added to the end.
$middlewareQueue->insertAt(2, $layer);

// Insert before another middleware.
// If the named class cannot be found,
// an exception will be raised.

// Insert after another middleware.
// If the named class cannot be found, the
// middleware will added to the end.

If your middleware is only applicable to a subset of routes or individual controllers you can use Route scoped middleware, or Controller middleware.

Adding Middleware from Plugins

Plugins can use their middleware hook method to apply any middleware they have to the application’s middleware queue:

// in plugins/ContactManager/src/Plugin.php
namespace ContactManager;

use Cake\Core\BasePlugin;
use Cake\Http\MiddlewareQueue;
use ContactManager\Middleware\ContactManagerContextMiddleware;

class Plugin extends BasePlugin
    public function middleware(MiddlewareQueue $middlewareQueue): MiddlewareQueue
        $middlewareQueue->add(new ContactManagerContextMiddleware());

        return $middlewareQueue;

Creating Middleware

Middleware can either be implemented as anonymous functions (Closures), or classes which extend Psr\Http\Server\MiddlewareInterface. While Closures are suitable for smaller tasks they make testing harder, and can create a complicated Application class. Middleware classes in CakePHP have a few conventions:

  • Middleware class files should be put in src/Middleware. For example: src/Middleware/CorsMiddleware.php

  • Middleware classes should be suffixed with Middleware. For example: LinkMiddleware.

  • Middleware must implement Psr\Http\Server\MiddlewareInterface.

Middleware can return a response either by calling $handler->handle() or by creating their own response. We can see both options in our simple middleware:

// In src/Middleware/TrackingCookieMiddleware.php
namespace App\Middleware;

use Cake\Http\Cookie\Cookie;
use Cake\I18n\Time;
use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\RequestHandlerInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\MiddlewareInterface;

class TrackingCookieMiddleware implements MiddlewareInterface
    public function process(
        ServerRequestInterface $request,
        RequestHandlerInterface $handler
    ): ResponseInterface
        // Calling $handler->handle() delegates control to the *next* middleware
        // In your application's queue.
        $response = $handler->handle($request);

        if (!$request->getCookie('landing_page')) {
            $expiry = new Time('+ 1 year');
            $response = $response->withCookie(new Cookie(

        return $response;

Now that we’ve made a very simple middleware, let’s attach it to our application:

// In src/Application.php
namespace App;

use App\Middleware\TrackingCookieMiddleware;
use Cake\Http\MiddlewareQueue;

class Application
    public function middleware(MiddlewareQueue $middlewareQueue): MiddlewareQueue
        // Add your simple middleware onto the queue
        $middlewareQueue->add(new TrackingCookieMiddleware());

        // Add some more middleware onto the queue

        return $middlewareQueue;

Routing Middleware

Routing middleware is responsible for applying your application’s routes and resolving the plugin, controller, and action a request is going to:

// In Application.php
public function middleware(MiddlewareQueue $middlewareQueue): MiddlewareQueue
    // ...
    $middlewareQueue->add(new RoutingMiddleware($this));

Body Parser Middleware

If your application accepts JSON, XML or other encoded request bodies, the BodyParserMiddleware will let you decode those requests into an array that is available via $request->getParsedData() and $request->getData(). By default only json bodies will be parsed, but XML parsing can be enabled with an option. You can also define your own parsers:

use Cake\Http\Middleware\BodyParserMiddleware;

// only JSON will be parsed.
$bodies = new BodyParserMiddleware();

// Enable XML parsing
$bodies = new BodyParserMiddleware(['xml' => true]);

// Disable JSON parsing
$bodies = new BodyParserMiddleware(['json' => false]);

// Add your own parser matching content-type header values
// to the callable that can parse them.
$bodies = new BodyParserMiddleware();
$bodies->addParser(['text/csv'], function ($body, $request) {
    // Use a CSV parsing library.
    return Csv::parse($body);