A router is a type of handler that organizes the components of a site by associating HTTP methods and paths with other handler and middleware. When the router receives a request, it examines the path components of the request’s URI, determines which “route” matches, and dispatches the associated handler. The dispatched handler is then responsible for reacting to the request and providing a response.

Basic Usage

Typically, you will want to use the WellRESTed\Server::createRouter method to create a Router.

$server = new WellRESTed\Server();
$router = $server->createRouter();

Suppose $catHandler is a middleware that you want to dispatch whenever a client makes a GET request to the path /cats/. Use the register method map it to that path and method.

$router->register("GET", "/cats/", $catHandler);

The register method is fluent, so you can add multiple routes in either of these styles:

$router->register("GET", "/cats/", $catReader);
$router->register("POST", "/cats/", $catWriter);
$router->register("GET", "/cats/{id}", $catItemReader);
$router->register("PUT,DELETE", "/cats/{id}", $catItemWriter);


    ->register("GET", "/cats/", $catReader)
    ->register("POST", "/cats/", $catWriter)
    ->register("GET", "/cats/{id}", $catItemReader)
    ->register("PUT,DELETE", "/cats/{id}", $catItemWriter);


A router can map a handler to an exact path, or to a pattern of paths.

Static Routes

The simplest type of route is called a “static route”. It maps a handler to an exact path.

$router->register("GET", "/cats/", $catHandler);

This route will map a request to /cats/ and only /cats/. It will not match requests to /cats or /cats/molly.

Prefix Routes

The next simplest type of route is a “prefix route”. A prefix route matches requests by the beginning of the path.

To create a “prefix handler”, include * at the end of the path. For example, this route will match any request that begins with /cats/.

$router->register("GET", "/cats/*", $catHandler);

Template Routes

Template routes allow you to provide patterns for paths with one or more variables (sections surrounded by curly braces) that will be extracted.

For example, this template will match requests to /cats/12, /cats/molly, etc.,

$router->register("GET", "/cats/{cat}", $catHandler);

When the router dispatches a route matched by a template route, it provides the extracted variables as request attributes. To access a variable, call the request object’s getAttribute method and pass the variable’s name.

For a request to /cats/molly:

$name = $request->getAttribute("cat");
// "molly"

Template routes are very powerful, and this only scratches the surface. See URI Templates for a full explanation of the syntax supported.

Regex Routes

You can also use regular expressions to describe route paths.

$router->register("GET", "~cats/(?<name>[a-z]+)-(?<number>[0-9]+)~", $catHandler);

When using regular expression routes, the attributes will contain the captures from preg_match.

For a request to /cats/molly-90:

$vars = $request->getAttributes();
    [0] => cats/molly-12
    [name] => molly
    [1] => molly
    [number] => 12
    [2] => 12
    ... Plus any other attributes that were set ...

Route Priority

A router will often contain many routes, and sometimes more than one route will match for a given request. When the router looks for a matching route, it performs these checks in order.

  1. If there is a static route with exact match to path, dispatch it.
  2. If one prefix route matches the beginning of the path, dispatch it.
  3. If multiple prefix routes match, dispatch the longest matching prefix route.
  4. Inspect each pattern route (template and regular expression) in the order in which they were added to the router. Dispatch the first route that matches.
  5. If no pattern routes match, return a response with a 404 Not Found status.

Static vs. Prefix

Consider these routes:

    ->register("GET", "/cats/", $static);
    ->register("GET", "/cats/*", $prefix);

The router will dispatch a request for /cats/ to $static because the static route /cats/ has priority over the prefix route /cats/*.

The router will dispatch a request to /cats/maine-coon to $prefix because it is not an exact match for /cats/, but it does begin with /cats/.

Prefix vs. Prefix

Given these routes:

    ->register("GET", "/dogs/*", $short);
    ->register("GET", "/dogs/sporting/*", $long);

A request to /dogs/herding/australian-shepherd will be dispatched to $short because it matches /dogs/*, but does not match /dogs/sporting/*

A request to /dogs/sporing/flat-coated-retriever will be dispatched to $long because it matches both routes, but /dogs/sporting is longer.

Prefix vs. Pattern

Given these routes:

    ->register("GET", "/dogs/*", $prefix);
    ->register("GET", "/dogs/{group}/{breed}", $pattern);

$pattern will never be dispatched because any route that matches /dogs/{group}/{breed} also matches /dogs/*, and prefix routes have priority over pattern routes.

Pattern vs. Pattern

When multiple pattern routes match a path, the first one that was added to the router will be the one dispatched. Be careful to add the specific routes before the general routes. For example, say you want to send traffic to two similar looking URIs to different handlers based whether the variables were supplied as numbers or letters—/dogs/102/132 should be dispatched to $numbers, while /dogs/herding/australian-shepherd should be dispatched to $letters.

This will work:

// Matches only when the variables are digits.
$router->register("GET", "~/dogs/([0-9]+)/([0-9]+)", $numbers);
// Matches variables with any unreserved characters.
$router->register("GET", "/dogs/{group}/{breed}", $letters);

This will NOT work:

// Matches variables with any unreserved characters.
$router->register("GET", "/dogs/{group}/{breed}", $letters);
// Matches only when the variables are digits.
$router->register("GET", "~/dogs/([0-9]+)/([0-9]+)", $numbers);

This is because /dogs/{group}/{breed} will match both /dogs/102/132 and /dogs/herding/australian-shepherd. If it is added to the router before the route for $numbers, it will be dispatched before the route for $numbers is ever evaluated.


When you register a route, you can provide a specific method, a list of methods, or a wildcard to indicate any method.

Registering by Method

Specify a specific handler for a path and method by including the method as the first parameter.

// Dispatch $dogCollectionReader for GET requests to /dogs/
$router->register("GET", "/dogs/", $dogCollectionReader);

// Dispatch $dogCollectionWriter for POST requests to /dogs/
$router->register("POST", "/dogs/", $dogCollectionWriter);

Registering by Method List

Specify the same handler for multiple methods for a given path by proving a comma-separated list of methods as the first parameter.

// Dispatch $catCollectionHandler for GET and POST requests to /cats/
$router->register("GET,POST", "/cats/", $catCollectionHandler);

// Dispatch $catItemReader for GET requests to /cats/12, /cats/12, etc.
$router->register("GET", "/cats/{id}", $catItemReader);

// Dispatch $catItemWriter for PUT, and DELETE requests to /cats/12, /cats/12, etc.
$router->register("PUT,DELETE", "/cats/{id}", $catItemWriter);

Registering by Wildcard

Specify a handler for all methods for a given path by proving a * wildcard.

// Dispatch $guineaPigHandler for all requests to /guinea-pigs/, regardless of method.
$router->register("*", "/guinea-pigs/", $guineaPigHandler);

// Use $hamstersHandler by default for requests to /hamsters/
$router->register("*", "/hamsters/", $hamstersHandler);

// Provide a specific handler for POST /hamsters/
$router->register("POST", "/hamsters/", $hamstersPostOnly);


The wildcard * can be useful, but be aware that the associated middleware will need to manage HEAD and OPTIONS requests, whereas this is done automatically for non-wildcard routes.

OPTIONS, 405 Responses, and Allow Headers

When you add routes to a router by method, the router automatically provides responses for OPTIONS requests. For example, given this route:

// Dispatch $catItemReader for GET requests to /cats/12, /cats/12, etc.
$router->register("GET", "/cats/{id}", $catItemReader);

// Dispatch $catItemWriter for PUT, and DELETE requests to /cats/12, /cats/12, etc.
$router->register("PUT,DELETE", "/cats/{id}", $catItemWriter);

An OPTIONS request to /cats/12 will provide a response like:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK

Likewise, a request to an unsupported method will return a 405 Method Not Allowed response with a descriptive Allow header.

A POST request to /cats/12 will provide:

HTTP/1.1 405 Method Not Allowed

Error Responses

When a router is unable to dispatch a route because either the path or method does not match a defined route, it will provide an appropriate error response code—either 404 Not Found or 405 Method Not Allowed.

The router always checks the path first. If route for that path matches, the router responds 404 Not Found.

If the router is able to locate a route that matches the path, but that route doesn’t support the request’s method, the router will respond 405 Method Not Allowed.

Given this router:

    ->register("GET", "/cats/", $catReader)
    ->register("POST", "/cats/", $catWriter)
    ->register("GET", "/dogs/", $catItemReader)

The following requests wil provide these responses:

Method Path Response
GET /hamsters/ 404 Not Found
PUT /cats/ 405 Method Not Allowed

Nested Routers

For large Web services with large numbers of endpoints, a single, monolithic router may not to optimal. To avoid having each request test every pattern-based route, you can break up a router into sub-routers.

Here’s an example where all of the traffic beginning with /cats/ is sent to one router, and all the traffic for endpoints beginning with /dogs/ is sent to another.

$server = new Server();

$catRouter = $server->createRouter()
    ->register("GET", "/cats/", $catReader)
    ->register("POST", "/cats/", $catWriter)
    // ... many more endpoints starting with /cats/
    ->register("POST", "/cats/{cat}/photo/{gallery}/{width}x{height}.{extension}", $catImageHandler);

$dogRouter = $server->createRouter()
    ->register("GET,POST", "/dogs/", $dogHandler)
    // ... many more endpoints starting with /dogs/
    ->register("POST", "/dogs/{dog}/photo/{gallery}/{width}x{height}.{extension}", $dogImageHandler);

    ->register("*", "/cats/*", $catRouter)
    ->register("*", "/dogs/*", $dogRouter)