Updated 2012-10-02 - Version ZF 2.0.3

Routing and controllers

We will build a very simple inventory system to display our album collection. The home page will list our collection and allow us to add, edit and delete albums. Hence the following pages are required:

Page Description
Home This will display the list of albums and provide links to edit and delete them. Also, a link to enable adding new albums will be provided.
Add new album This page will provide a form for adding a new album.
Edit album This page will provide a form for editing an album.
Delete album This page will confirm that we want to delete an album and then delete it.

Before we set up our files, it’s important to understand how the framework expects the pages to be organised. Each page of the application is known as an action and actions are grouped into controllers within modules. Hence, you would generally group related actions into a controller; for instance, a news controller might have actions of current, archived and view.

As we have four pages that all apply to albums, we will group them in a single controller AlbumController within our Album module as four actions. The four actions will be:

Page Controller Action
Home AlbumController index
Add new album AlbumController add
Edit album AlbumController edit
Delete album AlbumController delete

The mapping of a URL to a particular action is done using routes that are defined in the module’s module.config.php file. We will add a route for our album actions. This is the updated config file with the new code commented.

// module/Album/config/module.config.php:
return array(
    'controllers' => array(
        'invokables' => array(
            'Album\Controller\Album' => 'Album\Controller\AlbumController',

    // The following section is new and should be added to your file
    'router' => array(
        'routes' => array(
            'album' => array(
                'type'    => 'segment',
                'options' => array(
                    'route'    => '/album[/:action][/:id]',
                    'constraints' => array(
                        'action' => '[a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9_-]*',
                        'id'     => '[0-9]+',
                    'defaults' => array(
                        'controller' => 'Album\Controller\Album',
                        'action'     => 'index',

    'view_manager' => array(
        'template_path_stack' => array(
            'album' => __DIR__ . '/../view',

The name of the route is ‘album’ and has a type of ‘segment’. The segment route allows us to specify placeholders in the URL pattern (route) that will be mapped to named parameters in the matched route. In this case, the route is ``/album[/:action][/:id]`` which will match any URL that starts with /album. The next segment will be an optional action name, and then finally the next segment will be mapped to an optional id. The square brackets indicate that a segment is optional. The constraints section allows us to ensure that the characters within a segment are as expected, so we have limited actions to starting with a letter and then subsequent characters only being alphanumeric, underscore or hyphen. We also limit the id to a number.

This route allows us to have the following URLs:

URL Page Action
/album Home (list of albums) index
/album/add Add new album add
/album/edit/2 Edit album with an id of 2 edit
/album/delete/4 Delete album with an id of 4 delete

Create the controller

We are now ready to set up our controller. In Zend Framework 2, the controller is a class that is generally called {Controller name}Controller. Note that {Controller name} must start with a capital letter. This class lives in a file called {Controller name}Controller.php within the Controller directory for the module. In our case that is module/Album/src/Album/Controller. Each action is a public method within the controller class that is named {action name}Action. In this case {action name} should start with a lower case letter.


This is by convention. Zend Framework 2 doesn’t provide many restrictions on controllers other than that they must implement the Zend\Stdlib\Dispatchable interface. The framework provides two abstract classes that do this for us: Zend\Mvc\Controller\AbstractActionController and Zend\Mvc\Controller\AbstractRestfulController. We’ll be using the standard AbstractActionController, but if you’re intending to write a RESTful web service, AbstractRestfulController may be useful.

Let’s go ahead and create our controller class:

// module/Album/src/Album/Controller/AlbumController.php:
namespace Album\Controller;

use Zend\Mvc\Controller\AbstractActionController;
use Zend\View\Model\ViewModel;

class AlbumController extends AbstractActionController
    public function indexAction()

    public function addAction()

    public function editAction()

    public function deleteAction()


We have already informed the module about our controller in the ‘controller’ section of config/module.config.php.

We have now set up the four actions that we want to use. They won’t work yet until we set up the views. The URLs for each action are:

URL Method called
http://zf2-tutorial.localhost/album Album\Controller\AlbumController::indexAction
http://zf2-tutorial.localhost/album/add Album\Controller\AlbumController::addAction
http://zf2-tutorial.localhost/album/edit Album\Controller\AlbumController::editAction
http://zf2-tutorial.localhost/album/delete Album\Controller\AlbumController::deleteAction

We now have a working router and the actions are set up for each page of our application.

It’s time to build the view and the model layer.

Initialise the view scripts

To integrate the view into our application all we need to do is create some view script files. These files will be executed by the DefaultViewStrategy and will be passed any variables or view models that are returned from the controller action method. These view scripts are stored in our module’s views directory within a directory named after the controller. Create these four empty files now:

  • module/Album/view/album/album/index.phtml
  • module/Album/view/album/album/add.phtml
  • module/Album/view/album/album/edit.phtml
  • module/Album/view/album/album/delete.phtml

We can now start filling everything in, starting with our database and models.



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