Modular applications

Zend Framework 2 applications have a concept of modules, independent units that can provide configuration, services, and hooks into its MVC lifecycle. This functionality is provided by zend-modulemanager.

Starting with Expressive 2.0, we provide similar functionality by incorporating two packages within the default skeleton application:

  • zendframework/zend-config-aggregator, which provides features for aggregating configuration from a variety of sources, including:
    • PHP files globbed from the filesystem that return an array of configuration.
    • zend-config-compatible configuration files globbed from the filesystem.
    • Configuration provider classes; these are invokable classes which return an array of configuration.
  • zendframework/zend-component-installer, a Composer plugin that looks for an extra.zf.config-provider entry in a package to install, and, if found, adds an entry for that provider to the config/config.php file (if it uses zend-config-aggregator).

These features allow you to install packages via composer and expose their configuration — which may include dependency information — to your application.

Making your application modular

When using the Expressive 2.X installer, the first question asked is the installation type, which includes the options:

  • Minimal (no default middleware, templates, or assets; configuration only)
  • Flat (flat source code structure; default selection)
  • Modular (modular source code structure; recommended)

We recommend choosing the "Modular" option from the outset.

If you do not, you can still create and use modules in your application; however, the initial "App" module will not be modular.

Updating your Expressive 1.X application to accept modules

If you are upgrading from a previous Expressive version (1.X), and wish to use these new features, you will need to install the following packages:

  • zendframework/zend-config-aggregator
  • zendframework/zend-component-installer

As an example:

$ composer require zendframework/zend-config-aggregator \
> zendframework/zend-component-installer

Once installed, you should update your config/config.php file to read as follows:


use Zend\ConfigAggregator\ArrayProvider;
use Zend\ConfigAggregator\ConfigAggregator;
use Zend\ConfigAggregator\PhpFileProvider;

// To enable or disable caching, set the `ConfigAggregator::ENABLE_CACHE` boolean in
// `config/autoload/local.php`.
$cacheConfig = [
    'config_cache_path' => 'data/config-cache.php',

$aggregator = new ConfigAggregator([
    // Include cache configuration
    new ArrayProvider($cacheConfig),

    // Default App module config

    // Load application config in a pre-defined order in such a way that local settings
    // overwrite global settings. (Loaded as first to last):
    //   - `global.php`
    //   - `*.global.php`
    //   - `local.php`
    //   - `*.local.php`
    new PhpFileProvider('config/autoload/{{,*.}global,{,*.}local}.php'),

    // Load development config if it exists
    new PhpFileProvider('config/development.config.php'),
], $cacheConfig['config_cache_path']);

return $aggregator->getMergedConfig();

The above should mimic what you already had in place; if it does not, check to see if there are additional paths you were globbing previously.

Module structure

Expressive does not force you to use any particular structure for your module; its only requirement is to expose default configuration using a "config provider", which is simply an invokable class that returns a configuration array.

We generally recommend that a module have a PSR-4 structure, and that the module contain a src/ directory at the minimum, along with directories for other module-specific content, such as templates, tests, and assets:


If you use the above structure, you would then add an entry in your composer.json file to provide autoloading:

"autoload": {
    "psr-4": {
        "Acme\\": "src/Acme/src/"

Don't forget to execute composer dump-autoload after making the change!

Creating and enabling a module

The only requirement for creating a module is that you define a "config provider", which is simply an invokable class that returns a configuration array.

Generally, a config provider will return dependency information, and module-specific configuration:

namespace Acme;

class ConfigProvider
    public function __invoke()
        return [
            'dependencies' => $this->getDependencies(),
            'acme' => [
                'some-setting' => 'default value',
            'templates' => [
                'paths' => [
                    'acme' => [__DIR__ . '/../templates'],

    public function getDependencies()
        return [
            'invokables' => [
                Helper\AuthorizationHelper::class => Helper\AuthorizationHelper::class,
            'factories' => [
                Middleware\VerifyUser::class => Container\VerifyUserFactory::class,

You would then add the config provider to the top (or towards the top) of your config/config.php:

$aggregator = new ConfigAggregator([
    /* ... */

This approach allows your config/autoload/* files to take precedence over the module configuration, allowing you to override the values.

Caching configuration

In order to provide configuration caching, two things must occur:

  • First, you must define a config_cache_enabled key in your configuration somewhere.
  • Second, you must pass a second argument to the ConfigManager, the location of the cache file to use.

The config_cache_enabled key can be defined in any of your configuration providers, including the autoloaded configuration files. We recommend defining them in two locations:

  • config/autoload/global.php should define the value to true, as the production setting.
  • config/autoload/local.php should also define the setting, and use a value appropriate to the current environment. In development, for instance, this would be false.
// config/autoload/global.php

return [
    'config_cache_enabled' => true,
    /* ... */

// config/autoload/local.php

return [
    'config_cache_enabled' => false, // <- development!
    /* ... */

You would then alter your config/config.php file to add the second argument. The following example builds on the previous, and demonstrates having the AppConfig entry enabled. The configuration will be cached to data/config-cache.php in the application root:

$configManager = new ConfigManager([
    new PhpFileProvider('config/autoload/{{,*.}global,{,*.}local}.php'),
], 'data/config-cache.php');

When the configuration cache path is present, if the config_cache_enabled flag is enabled, then configuration will be read from the cached configuration, instead of parsing and merging the various configuration sources.

Final notes

This approach may look simple, but it is flexible and powerful:

  • You pass a list of config providers to the ConfigAggregator constructor.
  • Configuration is merged in the same order as it is passed, with later entries having precedence.
  • You can override module configuration using *.global.php and *.local.php files.
  • If cached config is found, ConfigAggregator does not iterate over provider list.

For more details, please refer to the zend-config-aggregator documentation.