Template Variable Container

  • Since zend-expressive-helpers 5.3.0

zend-expressive-template provides the method Zend\Expressive\Template\TemplateRendererInterface::addDefaultParam() for providing template variables that should be available to any template.

One common use case for this is to set things such as the current user, current section of the website, currently matched route, etc. Unfortunately, because the method changes the internal state of the renderer, this can cause problems in an async environment, such as Swoole, where those changes will persist for parallel and subsequent requests.

To provide a stateless alternative, you can create a Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\TemplateVariableContainer and persist it as a request attribute. This allows you to set template variables that are pipeline-specific, and later extract and merge them with handler-specific values when rendering.

To facilitate this further, we provide Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\TemplateVariableContainerMiddleware, which will populate the attribute for you if it has not yet been.

The container is immutable, and any changes will result in a new instance. As such, any middleware that is providing additional values or removing values must call $request->withAttribute() to replace the instance, per the examples below.

When to use the TemplateVariableContainer

If you are calling addDefaultParam() only in your factory for creating your template renderer instance, or within delegator factories on the renderer, you do not need to make any changes.

If you are using our Swoole integrations or other async application runners, and either currently or plan to set template parameters withing pipeline middleware you definitely need to use the TemplateVariableContainer in order to prevent state problems.

We actually recommend using this approach even if you are not using Swoole or other async application runners, as the approach is more explicit and easily tested, and, as noted, does not depend on state within the renderer itself.


As an example, consider the following pipeline:

// In config/pipeline.php

use Psr\Container\ContainerInterface;
use Zend\Expressive\Application;
use Zend\Expressive\Handler\NotFoundHandler;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper\ServerUrlMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\TemplateVariableContainerMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper\UrlHelperMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\MiddlewareFactory;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\DispatchMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\ImplicitHeadMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\ImplicitOptionsMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\MethodNotAllowedMiddleware;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\Middleware\RouteMiddleware;
use Zend\Stratigility\Middleware\ErrorHandler;

use function Zend\Stratigility\path;

return function (Application $app, MiddlewareFactory $factory, ContainerInterface $container) : void {

        // The following entry is specific to this example:





Any middleware or handler that responds to a path beginning with /api/doc will now have a Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\TemplateVariableContainer attribute that contains an instance of that class.

Within middleware that responds on that path, you can then do the following:

use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\MiddlewareInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\RequestHandlerInterface;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\TemplateVariableContainer;
use Zend\Expressive\Router\RouteResult;

class InjectUserAndRouteVariablesMiddleware implements MiddlewareInterface
    public function process(
        ServerRequestInterface $request,
            RequestHandlerInterface $handler
    ) : ResponseInterface {
        $container = $request->getAttribute(
            new TemplateVariableContainer()

        // Since containers are immutable, we re-populate the request:
        $request = $request->withAttribute(
                'user'  => $user,
                'route' => $request->getAttribute(RouteResult::class),

        return $handler->handle($request);

In a handler, you will call mergeForTemplate() with any local variables you want to use, including those that might override the defaults:

use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseFactoryInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ResponseInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\StreamFactoryInterface;
use Psr\Http\Message\ServerRequestInterface;
use Psr\Http\Server\RequestHandlerInterface;
use Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\TemplateVariableContainer;
use Zend\Expressive\Template\TemplateRendererInterface;

class SomeHandler implements RequestHandlerInterface
    private $renderer;
    private $responseFactory;
    private $streamFactory;

    public function __construct(
        TemplateRendererInterface $renderer,
        ResponseFactoryInterface $responseFactory,
        StreamFactoryInterface $streamFactory
    ) {
        $this->renderer        = $renderer;
        $this->responseFactory = $responseFactory;
        $this->streamFactory   = $streamFactory;

    public function handle(ServerRequestInterface $request) : ResponseInterface
        $value = $request->getParsedBody()['key'] ?? null;

        $content = $this->renderer->render(
                    'local' => $value,

        $body = $this->streamFactory()->createStream($content);

        return $this->responseFactory()->createResponse(200)->withBody($body);

The TemplateVariableContainer contains the following methods:

  • count() : int: return a count of variables in the container.
  • get(string $key) : mixed: return the value associated with $key; if not present, a null is returned.
  • has(string $key) : bool: does the container have an entry associated with $key?
  • with(string $key, mixed $value) : self: return a new container instance containing the key/value pair provided.
  • without(string $key) : self: return a new container instance that does not contain the given $key.
  • merge(array $values) : self: return a new container that merge the $values provided with those in the original container. This is useful for setting many values at once.
  • mergeForTemplate(array $values) : array: merge $values with any values in the container, and return the result. This method has no side effects, and should be used when preparing variables to pass to the renderer.

Route template variable middleware

  • Since zend-expressive-helpers 5.3.0

Zend\Expressive\Helper\Template\RouteTemplateVariableMiddleware will inject the currently matched route into the template variable container.

This middleware relies on the TemplateVariableContainerMiddleware preceding it in the middleware pipeline, or having the TemplateVariableContainer request attribute present; if neither is present, it will generate a new instance.

It then populates the container's route parameter using the results of retrieving the Zend\Expressive\Router\RouteResult request attribute; the value will be either an instance of that class, or null.

Templates rendered using the container can then access that value, and test for routing success/failure status, pull the matched route name, route, and/or parameters from it.

This middleware can replace the UrlHelperMiddleware in your pipeline.

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