A strategy to route HTTP requests within the Back-End

What is a route ?

A route associates a URI with a resolver which indicates how to handle the request and might be as many things as a class name, a function, a script path or even another URI.


"URI" : {
    "METHOD" : {
        ["description": "",]
        ["operation": "",]
                ["redirect": ""]
    "METHOD" : {
        ["description": "",]
        "operation": ""

alternate notation

"URI" : "redirection"

As an arbitrary convention, we can limit the fields to "description" and "operation":

  • The description only serves to allow developer(s) to remember routes roles in the config file
  • The operation attribute is either a query string that can be resolved to a script path (controller) or another URI the route actually points to.

To distinguish an operation from a redirection, we can use the following convention: an operation is a call to the main entry point (and should therfore always contain either '?get', '?do', or '?show'), whereas a redirection is an absolute URL (starting with a '/') to a route defined elsewhere.


ability to map some parameters using

A common route notation is to use the :[param] syntax with '?' (wildcards notation) as optional flag



In most context, URI rewriting goal is to name operations in a logicial and intuitive way but also to ease URI reading for user and . Therefore, it is relevant to consider the user language.

We can use additional config files (.json) and use the alternation notation (redirection) to map language-specific routes to the previously defined ones.

HTTPD URI handling

The easiest way to implement this is to define a rewrite rule on the HTTP server along with an entry point having routing capabilities: .htaccess

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteBase /
        RewriteRule ^index\.php(\??.*)$ - [L]

        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
        RewriteRule . /index.php [L]


which in turn can be in_array('mod_rewrite', apache_get_modules()); if(!function_exists('apache_get_modules') )

if( strpos( $_SERVER['SERVER_SOFTWARE'], 'Apache') !== false)

$_SERVER['SERVER_SOFTWARE'] apache_get_version();

makes it easy to read and to detect inconsistencies or non-logic routes

    "/api/categories": {
        "GET": {
               "description: "provide categories listing",
               "operation": "?get=myapp_category_list&api=1.0"
        "DELETE": {
               "description: "categories bulk deletion",
               "operation": "?do=myapp_category_delete"


Thoses routes can be easily mapped to operations as described in the article Trivial scripts as controllers

Enrich response description

Additional informations might be added, describing the response that the operation will return:

  • What kind of data is returned (content-type/MIME) : application/json, application/vnd.api+json,text/xml,application/pdf`, ...
  • What charset is used for text-encoding: UTF-8, ISO-8859-1, ...
  • What is the scope of the controller : does it allow cross-origin requests / from which hosts

Here is an example on how to use the announce method to set those descriptors:

    'response'      => [
        'content-type'  => 'text/xml',
        'charset'       => 'utf-8'
        'allow-origin'  => '*'

Finally, here is how the existing routes can be retrieved and returned as JSON with their full description:

    use config\QNLib;

    list($params, $providers) = QNLib::announce([
        'description'   => 'List of existing routes',
        'providers'     => ['context', 'route'] 
        'response'      => [
            'content-type'  => 'application/json'

    list($context, $router) = [$providers['context'], $providers['route']];

    $routes = $router->add(QN_BASE_DIR.'/config/routing/*.json')->getRoutes();

    $result = [];

    foreach($routes as $path => $resolver) {
        $batch = $router->normalize($path, $resolver);
        foreach($batch as $route) {
            if(isset($route['redirect']) || $route['operation']['type'] == 'show') continue;

            $route['operation']['params']['announce'] = true;

            $json = QNLib::run($route['operation']['type'], 

            $result[] = json_decode($json, true);


Read more

Here are some links about how a few popular PHP frameworks deal with routes :

Last edited on February 22, 2019