Elgg has two mechanisms to respond to HTTP requests that don’t already go through the Actions and Simplecache systems.

URL Identifier and Segments

After removing the site URL, Elgg splits the URL path by / into an array. The first element, the identifier, is shifted off, and the remaining elements are called the segments. For example, if the site URL is, the URL produces:

Identifier: 'blog'. Segments: ['owner', 'jane']. (the query string parameters are available via get_input())

The site URL (home page) is a special case that produces an empty string identifier and an empty segments array.


URL identifier/segments should be considered potentially dangerous user input. Elgg uses htmlspecialchars to escapes HTML entities in them.

Page Handler

To handle all URLs that begin with a particular identifier, you can register a function to act as a Page handler. When the handler is called, the segments array is passed in as the first argument.

The following code registers a page handler for „blog“ URLs and shows how one might route the request to a resource view.

elgg_register_page_handler('blog', 'blog_page_handler');

function blog_page_handler(array $segments) {
     // if the URL is
     // $segments contains: ['view', '123', 'my-blog-post']

     $subpage = elgg_extract(0, $segments);
     if ($subpage === 'view') {

         // use a view for the page logic to allow other plugins to easily change it
         $resource = elgg_view_resource('blog/view', [
             'guid' => (int)elgg_extract(1, $segments);

         return elgg_ok_response($resource);

     // redirect to a different location
     if ($subpage === '') {
         return elgg_redirect_response('blog/all');

     // send an error page
     if ($subpage === 'owner' && !elgg_entity_exists($segments[1])) {
         return elgg_error_response('User not found', 'blog/all', ELGG_HTTP_NOT_FOUND);

     // ... handle other subpages

The route Plugin Hook

The route plugin hook is triggered before page handlers are called. The URL identifier is given as the type of the hook. This hook can be used to add some logic before the request is handled elsewhere, or take over page rendering completely.

Generally devs should instead use a page handler unless they need to affect a single page or a wider variety of URLs.

The following code results in /blog/all requests being completely handled by the plugin hook handler. For these requests the blog page handler is never called.

function myplugin_blog_all_handler($hook, $type, $returnvalue, $params) {
    $segments = elgg_extract('segments', $returnvalue, array());

    if (isset($segments[0]) && $segments[0] === 'all') {
        $title = "We're taking over!";
        $content = elgg_view_layout('one_column', array(
            'title' => $title,
            'content' => "We can take over page rendering completely"
        echo elgg_view_page($title, $content);

        // in the route hook, return false says, "stop rendering, we've handled this request"
        return false;

elgg_register_plugin_hook_handler('route', 'blog', 'myplugin_blog_all_handler');


As of 2.1, route modification should be done in the route:rewrite hook.

The route:rewrite Plugin Hook

For URL rewriting, the route:rewrite hook (with similar arguments as route) is triggered very early, and allows modifying the request URL path (relative to the Elgg site).

Here we rewrite requests for news/* to blog/*:

function myplugin_rewrite_handler($hook, $type, $value, $params) {
    $value['identifier'] = 'blog';
    return $value;

elgg_register_plugin_hook_handler('route:rewrite', 'news', 'myplugin_rewrite_handler');


The hook must be registered directly in your plugin start.php (the [init, system] event is too late).

Routing overview

For regular pages, Elgg’s program flow is something like this:

  1. A user requests
  2. Plugins are initialized.
  3. Elgg parses the URL to identifier news and segments ['owner', 'jane'].
  4. Elgg triggers the plugin hook route:rewrite, news (see above).
  5. Elgg triggers the plugin hook route, blog (was rewritten in the rewrite hook).
  6. Elgg finds a registered page handler (see above) for blog, and calls the function, passing in the segments.
  7. The page handler function determines it needs to render a single user’s blog. It calls elgg_view_resource('blog/owner', $vars) where $vars contains the username.
  8. The resources/blog/owner view gets the username via $vars['username'], and uses many other views and formatting functions like elgg_view_layout() and elgg_view_page() to create the entire HTML page.
  9. The page handler echos the view HTML and returns true to indicate it handled the request.
  10. PHP invokes Elgg’s shutdown sequence.
  11. The user receives a fully rendered page.

Elgg’s coding standards suggest a particular URL layout, but there is no syntax enforced.