Request Flow

Exam proportion: 7%.

Application Initialization

  1. Check compilier configuration
  2. Include Mage.php
    1. Setup core functions and autoloader
    2. Register the autoloader
  3. Mage::run()
    1. Instantiate Mage_Core_Model_App
    2. Instantiate the Config model
    3. $app-run()
      1. baseInit() - load the base config and initialise cache.
      2. initModules() - load module configuration.
      3. Run all the required SQL install and upgrade scripts
      4. Setup the locale
      5. initCurrentStore() - load store configuration and instantiate the store model
      6. initRequest() - load the request information into the model
      7. Run all the required data install and upgrade scripts
      8. Dispatch the request

Include Path & Autoloader Registration

The include path is set up and the autoloader is registered when the Mage.php file is included in index.php. Shortly after this occurs the autoloader is registered with spl_autoload_register.

Loading Magento Module and Database Configuration

The base configuration of Magento is loaded in Mage_Core_Model_Config::loadBase. It grabs the glob of app/etc/*.xml which contains key config information, e.g. database credentials, the core module, the results of installation.

Database config is stored in app/etc/local.xml and app/etc/config.xml.

Mage_Core_Model_Config::loadModules handles looping over each of the modules that exist in app/etc/modules/ and merging their own config.xml files from their respective module directories.

The order that modules are loaded in is:

  1. Mage_All.xml
  2. Mage_*.xml
  3. Everything else

If a module depends on another, Magento makes sure it exists and loads its configuration first.

Modules are loaded after the base configuration but before store initialisation.

Setup Script Execution

Module loading and SQL database upgrades are run when Mage_Core_Model_App::app() is called but data upgrades are not. Whereas Mage_Core_Model_App::run() completes all of the above. It does so in two phases.

  1. Mage_Core_Model_Resource_Setup::applyAllUpdates() - executed immediately after the module configuration is loaded and runs all the SQL install and update scripts.

  2. Mage_Core_Model_Resource_Setup::applyAllDataUpdates() - executed after the store, locale and request models have been initialised and runs the data install and upgrade scripts.

Magento Stores and Locale Loading

In the Mage_Core_Model_App::run() method, Magento sets up which store to use by:

<?php $this->_initCurrentStore($scopeCode, $scopeType); ?>

There are multiple ways to specify the current store.

The environment variables are checked in index.php:

	/* Store or website code */
	$mageRunCode = isset($_SERVER['MAGE_RUN_CODE']) ? $_SERVER['MAGE_RUN_CODE'] : '';

	/* Run store or run website */
	$mageRunType = isset($_SERVER['MAGE_RUN_TYPE']) ? $_SERVER['MAGE_RUN_TYPE'] : 'store';

Request and Response Objects

The request object is initialised in Mage_Core_Model_App and the _initRequest() method. getRequest() and getResponse are relevant.

Front Controller


The front controller performs the routing of the request to the appropriate controller. It loops over all of the registered routers, passing the request to each one of them to be matched against a controller capable of handling it. After the request has been dispatched, the front controller sends the response to the client.


Adding Router Classes

There are two ways to add routes.


URL Rewrites

URL Structure

The URL structure in Magento generally uses the format {base_url}/{front_name}/{controller}/{action}.

Mage_Core_Controller_Varien_Router_Standard parses the URLs in this format and maps them to a module used and the controller action to be executed.

URL Rewrite Process

URL rewrites happen in the Front controller before the routing. The database rewrites are checked and applied first, followed by the configuration (global->rewrite) rewrites. Rewrites can either redirect the request using HTTP methods, update the request path (keeping the old one for reference) or completely replace the request path.

Database URL Rewrites

The most important fields in the core_url_rewrite table are request_path and target_path which map the request to a rewrite.

Magento creates catalog requires using the catalog_url indexer.

Matching requests

The requests are applied by the Mage_Core_Model_Url_Rewrite_Request model. The request path is parsed to include any variation (with or without the trailing slash) and then looks up the request_path column of the core_url_rewrite table using the Mage_Core_Model_Url_Rewrite::loadByRequestPath() method.

Request Routing

Built-in Magento routers (in the order that they are matched):

  1. Admin
    • Collects all routes for the administration area
    • Looks within config.xml for routes within admin.
  2. Standard
    • Superclass of Admin
    • Collects routes from within frontend routes defined in config.xml
  3. CMS
    • Routes CMS pages from identifiers
  4. Default
    • This will always match.
    • Routes error or 404 pages.

The standard router maps a path to an action by splitting it into base_url/frontname/controller/action. The frontname is then mapped to a module by way of the configuration files. The controller file is then located at `/path/to/module/base/controllers/{Name}Controller.php

Unmapped requests read the Default router where they are rewritten to a 404 page and get mapped by the Standard router on the next iteration.

Before dispatch, request module, controller, action and parameters are set. Then it is passed to the controller (all within the Standard router).

Design and layout initialisation

The store design (core/design_package) is initialised in the controller preDispatch() method. The package and theme configuration is then determined by the Mage_Core_Model_Design.

Layout files get read ($layout->getUpdate()->load()) when the controller calls $this->loadLayout(). The same method also compiles the layout ($layout->generateXml()) which processes the layout directives.

Output is rendered when the controller calls $this->renderLayout(), which calls each of the blocks defined to output data e.g. output="toHtml" in the definition, and merged their output into the response body.

To add a layout handle to be processed call

<?php Mage::getLayout()->getUpdate()->addHandle('new_handle'); ?>

Behind the scenes Mage_Core_Model_Layout_Update loads the layout files and their XML while Mage_Core_Model_Layout processes it.

Layout XML gets merged, first from modules, then local.xml and then the database. The next step is to remove blocks or references as directed by the <remove> element.

To add a layout file to be merged, add this to an extensions config.xml file:


This file will then be searched for in app/design/{area}/{package}/{theme}/layout/{filename.xml}

Flushing Data (output)

Response content gets set by the $layout->renderLayout() method. After the controller dispatch method returns, the Front Controller send the response.

The controller_front_send_response_before event can be used to modify the response before sending. Subsequently, observing for the controller_front_send_response_after event allows for cleaning up after if necessary.

If the output is not sent in a response object but printed out, it can prevent headers from being sent as it is unbuffered.


There are two types of redirects that can be used in a controller action.