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 Handling

Elgg offers a facility to manage your plugin pages via custom routes, enabling URLs like http://yoursite/my_plugin/section. You can register a new route using elgg_register_route(), or via routes config in elgg-plugin.php. Routes map to resource views, where you can render page contents.

// in your 'init', 'system' handler
elgg_register_route('my_plugin:section' [
        'path' => '/my_plugin/section/{guid}/{subsection?}',
        'resource' => 'my_plugin/section',
        'requirements' => [
                'guid' => '\d+',
                'subsection' => '\w+',

// in my_plugin/views/default/resources/my_plugin/section.php
$guid = elgg_extract('guid', $vars);
$subsection = elgg_extract('subsection', $vars);

// render content

In the example above, we have registered a new route that is accessible via http://yoursite/my_plugin/section/<guid>/<subsection>. Whenever that route is accessed with a required guid segment and an optional subsection segment, the router will render the specified my_plugin/section resource view and pass the parameters extracted from the URL to your resource view with $vars.

Routes names

Route names can then be used to generate a URL:

$url = elgg_generate_url('my_plugin:section', [
        'guid' => $entity->guid,
        'subsection' => 'assets',

The route names are unique across all plugins and core, so another plugin can override the route by registering different parameters to the same route name.

Route names follow a certain convention and in certain cases will be used to automatically resolve URLs, e.g. to display an entity.

The following conventions are used in core and recommended for plugins:

Maps to the entity profile page, e.g. view:user:user or view:object:blog The path must contain a guid, or username for users
Maps to the form to edit the entity, e.g. edit:user:user or edit:object:blog The path must contain a guid, or username for users If you need to add subresources, use suffixes, e.g. edit:object:blog:images, keeping at least one subresource as a default without suffix.
Maps to the form to add a new entity of a given type, e.g. add:object:blog The path, as a rule, contains container_guid parameter

Maps to listing pages. Common route names used in core are, as follows:

  • collection:object:blog:all: list all blogs
  • collection:object:blog:owner: list blogs owned by a user with a given username
  • collection:object:blog:friends: list blogs owned by friends of the logged in user (or user with a given username)
  • collection:object:blog:group: list blogs in a group

Maps to the default page for a resource, e.g. the path /blog. Elgg happens to use the “all” collection for these routes.

  • default:object:blog: handle the generic path /blog.

<entity_subtype> can be omitted from route names to register global routes applicable to all entities of a given type. URL generator will first try to generate a URL using the subtype, and will then fallback to a route name without a subtype. For example, user profiles are routed to the same resource view regardless of user subtype.

Route configuration

Segments can be defined using wildcards, e.g. profile/{username}, which will match all URLs that contain profile/ followed by and arbitrary username.

To make a segment optional you can add a ? (question mark) to the wildcard name, e.g. profile/{username}/{section?}. In this case the URL will be matched even if the section segment is not provided.

You can further constrain segments using regex requirements:

By default, Elgg will set the following requirements for named URL segments:

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 route that matches the final route path, and renders a resource view associated with it. It calls elgg_view_resource('blog/owner', $vars) where $vars contains the username.
  7. 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.
  8. PHP invokes Elgg’s shutdown sequence.
  9. The user receives a fully rendered page.

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