AxKit2::Plugin - base class for all plugins


An AxKit2 plugin allows you to hook into various parts of processing requests and modify the behaviour of that request. This class is the base class for all plugins and this document covers both the details of the base class, and the available hooks and the consequences the return codes for those hooks have.

See "AVAILABLE HOOKS" for the hooks, and "API" for the API provided to all plugins.


Most plugin authors should start at AxKit2::Docs::WritingPlugins. However a hook consists of the following things:

  • An init() method for initialising state.

  • A register() method for registering hooks outside of the default naming scheme.

  • A number of conf_*() methods to define configuration directives.

  • A number of hook_*() methods to implement your hooks.

  • Any number of helper methods.

Although plugins are classes, they do not need the usual perl extra stuff such as a package declaration, a constructor (such as new()), nor do they require the annoying "1;" at the end of the file. AxKit2 adds those things in for you.

All plugins are simple blessed hashes.


Methods marked virtual below can be implemented in your plugin and will be called at the appropriate times by the AxKit2 framework.

$plugin->register (virtual)

Called when the plugin is initialised, and should be used to call $plugin->register_hook(...). However see "AVAILABLE HOOKS" regarding naming hook methods so they are automatically registered.


    sub register {
        my $self = shift;
        $self->register_hook('response' => 'hook_response1');
        $self->register_hook('response' => 'hook_response2');

$plugin->register_hook( HOOK_NAME => METHOD_NAME )

Register method METHOD_NAME to be called for hook HOOK_NAME.

$plugin->init() (virtual)

Called when the plugin is compiled/loaded. Use this to do any per-plugin setup.


    sub init {
        my $self = shift;
        $self->{dhb} = DBI->connect(...);


Retrieve the current config object. See AxKit2::Config. If you pass the name of a configuration directive of your own plugin, you can get/set values directly without bothering about name clashes with other plugins.

If you call this method in array context, it will return a list of all values that were set, or the empty list if nothing was configured. In scalar context, only the first value is returned.

If you pass a list following the directive name, these values replace the current values.

Directives of other plugins can be accessed through $plugin->config->notes('<package name>::<directive name>').


Retrieve the current client object. See AxKit2::Connection.

WARNING: This object goes out of scope outside of the hook. See plugins/aio/serve_file for an example of where this might become relevant.

$plugin->log( LEVEL, MESSAGE )

Write a log message. Gets passed to whatever logging plugins are loaded.


Retrieve the name of this plugin


Retrieve the name of the currently executing hook


Any sub named conf_<name> is taken as a configuration directive. If you simply declare a sub without supplying the function body, AxKit will store any values given in $self->config('<name>'), supporting multiple values at once.

This declaration:

    sub conf_foo_bar;

will create this entry:


and can be used in a variety of ways in the config file:

    FooBar demo
    foobar demo
    fOObAR demo
    foo-bar demo
    foo_bar demo
    FOo_bAr demo

which are all equivalent.

This CamelCase declaration:

    sub conf_FooBar;

will create this entry:


and will have exactly the same config file syntax as the previous example.

By default, multiple values are accepted and stored, while quoting is supported:

    FooBar demo1 demo2 "demo 3"

For different ways of parsing/validating configuration directives, you can add a custom validation routine:

    # use predefined "only one argument allowed" validator
    sub FooBar : Validate(TAKE1);
    # this directive takes a comma separated list of values
    sub FooBar : Validate(sub { split(/,/,shift); });

If you want to have custom actions when the directive is parsed, supply a function body:

    # store a database connection instead
    sub FooBar { my ($self, $value) = @_; return DBI->connect($value); }
    # preprocess parameters
    sub FooBar { my ($self, @values) = @_; return join(",",@values); }
    # return empty list means: don't store anything
    sub FooBar { my ($self, @values) = @_; return (); }

Of course, all this can be combined:

    # this is a rather nonsensical example, do you spot why?
    sub FooBar : Validate(sub { split(/,/,shift); }) {
        my ($self, @values) = @_;
        return join(",",@values);


In order to hook into a particular phase of the request you simply write a method called hook_NAME where NAME is the name of the hook you wish to connect to.


  sub hook_logging {

If your plugin needs to hook into the same hook more than once, you will need to write a register() method as shown above. This is usually the case if you need continuations for some reason (such as doing asynchronous I/O).

All hooks are called as a method on an instance of the plugin object. Params below are listed without the $plugin or $self object as the first param.

For some plugins returning CONTINUATION is valid. For details on how continuations work in AxKit2 see "CONTINUATIONS" below.

In all cases below, returning DECLINED means other plugins/methods for the same hook get called. Any other return value means execution stops for that hook.

Following are the available hooks:



Called when something calls $obj->log(...) within AxKit. Logger is expected to provide a way to set log level and ignore logging below the current level.

Return Values:

  • DECLINED - continue on to further logging plugins

  • Anything else - stop logging


Params: None

Called immediately upon connect.

Return Values:

  • OK/DECLINED - connection is OK to go on to be processed

  • Anything else - connection is rejected


Params: None

Called before headers are received. Useful if keep-alives are present as this is called after a keep-alive request finishes but before the next request.


Params: HEADER

Called after the headers are received and parsed. Passed the AxKit2::HTTPHeaders object for the incoming headers.

Return Values:

  • OK/DECLINED - Continue processing request if method is either GET or HEAD.

  • DONE - assumes response has been sent in full. Stops processing request.

  • Anything else - sends the appropriate error response to the browser.


Params: BREF

Called for POST, PUT, etc verbs as each packet of body data is received. The param is a SCALAR reference to the data received.

Return Values:

  • OK/DECLINED - Data received and processed.

  • DONE - End of data received - process the rest of the request.

  • Anything else - sends the appropriate error response to the browser.



Called to translate the URI into a filename and path_info. See plugins/uri_to_file for an example of what needs to be done.

Return Values:

  • OK/DECLINED - Continue processing the request

  • DONE - Stop processing. Response has been sent.

  • Anything Else - send the appropriate error response to the browser.



Called to set the MIME type for the given filename. See plugins/fast_mime_map for an example of what needs to be achieved.

Return Values - see "uri_translation" above.



Return Values - see "uri_translation" above.



Return Values - see "uri_translation" above.



Return Values - see "uri_translation" above.



Return Values - see "uri_translation" above.



If this URI is to be treated as an XML request, this hook is for you. Passed an AxKit2::Processor object and the headers.

Return Value:

  • DECLINED - Not treated as XML. Proceed to regular response hook.


    XML Processed. If provided with a PROCESSOR runs PROCESSOR->output() which in the normal case causes the HTML or XML to be output to the browser. Stops processing the request at this point.

  • DONE - Output has been sent to the browser. Stop processing.

  • Anything Else - send the appropriate error response to the browser.



Main response phase. Used for sending normal responses to the client.

Return Value:

  • DECLINED - Sends a 404 response to the browser.

  • OK or DONE - Stops processing this request. Response has been sent.

  • Anything Else - send the appropriate error response to the browser.


Params: CODE

Called after the response has been sent to the browser. The parameter is the response code used (e.g. 200 for OK, 404 for Not Found, etc).

The return codes for this hook are used to determine if the connection should be kept open in a keep-alive request.

Return Value:

  • DECLINED/OK - Use default keep-alive response depending on request type.

  • DONE - Request was OK, but don't keep the connection open.

  • Anything Else - ... TBD.




Params: ERROR

Called whenever a hook die()s or returns SERVER_ERROR.

Return Value:

  • DECLINED - Use default error handler

  • OK/DONE - Error was sent to browser. Ignore.

  • Anything Else - Send a different error to the browser.


AxKit2 is entirely single threaded, and so it is important not to do things that take significant runtime away from the main event loop. A simple example of this might be looking up a request on a remote web server - while the AxKit process waits for the response it is important to allow AxKit to continue on processing other requests.

In order to achieve this AxKit2 uses a simplified version of a technique known in computer science terms as a continuation.

In simple english, this is a way to suspend execution of one request and continue it at an arbitrary later time.

AxKit2 has a form of continuations based on the core event loop. Some hooks can suspend execution by returning CONTINUATION, and have execution of the request continue when some event has occured.

A typical usage of this is when you need to perform an action that may take some time. An example of this is disk I/O - typical I/O in the common POSIX read/write style APIs occurs in a blocking manner - when you ask for a read() the disk seeks to the position you need it to go to when it can do so and the read is performed as soon as possible before the API call returns. This may take very little CPU time because the OS has to wait until the disk head is in the correct position to perform the actions requested. But it does take "clock" time which can be put to better use responding to other requests.

In asynchronous I/O the action is requested and a callback is provided to be called when the action has occured. This allows the event loop to continue processing other requests while we are waiting for the disk.

This is better explained with a simple example. For this example we'll take the stat() system call in an attempt to find out if the filename we are requesting is a directory or not. In perl we would normally perform this with the following code:

    sub hook_response {
        my $self = shift;
        my $filename = $self->client->headers_in->filename;
        if (-d $filename) {
        return OK;

However with AIO and continuations we can re-write that as:

    sub hook_response1 {
        my $self = shift;
        my $client = $self->shift;
        my $filename = $self->client->headers_in->filename;
        IO::AIO::aio_stat $filename, sub {
            if (-d _) {
        return CONTINUATION;
    sub hook_response2 {
        return DECLINED;

A first read will prove one thing - AIO and continuations are a lot harder than regular procedural code. However often the performance benefits are worth it.

In general if you need to use continuations then consult the plugins in the aio/ directory, and send emails to the mailing list, as they are generally a big source of hard to locate bugs.