Exploring Middleware in Laravel 11

Jacques MBABAZI
4 min readJan 16, 2024

Laravel 11 is set to release in sometime in February 2024.

I am starting a new project, and because it’s so close to the release date I figured I would take a look at what’s going to be different with the new major release. I remember reading a Laravel News article 6 months ago about how the Http Kernel was going away and didn’t think much of it.

When I created the project using laravel new project --dev, I was quite surprised at how much smaller the project size was. It was very surprising to see an empty config folder (you can publish the config files with php artisan config:publish)!

And sure enough, there is no Http Kernel. So… how do you add or change middleware? Prior to Laravel 11, the Http Kernel (found in app/Http/Kernel.php) is where all the configuration for middleware was found. Also prior to Laravel 11, you would typically never touch bootstrap/app.php. However, that is no longer the case in this new version.

To be honest, as a Laravel user since v4.2, this is quite the paradigm shift. Instead of an easy-to-read Kernel.php file, there is a lot more implicit knowledge you need before adding middleware.

The new starting point for bootstrap/app.php is as follows:

I am just exploring middleware in this post, but as you can see this is quite a different approach than we’ve seen historically. I sat there scratching my head, “How do I set up my own middleware? How do I change the defaults?” I had to explore the Illuminate\Foundation\Configuration\Middleware class to find out.

Calling Application::configure() returns an instance of Illuminate\Foundation\Configuration\ApplicationBuilder, where it then calls the various functions, withProviders(), withRouting() and the withMiddleware() functions. The withMiddleware() function takes a callable.

Using the boilerplate, we can add new middleware aliases by calling alias():

Once this some_key is added, we can assign it to individual routes and route groups. If we want to add middleware to every request, we can use the append() or prepend() functions to add global middleware.

We can remove middleware that’s there by default by calling the remove() function.

We can add or remove middleware to specific groups, i.e. the web group using the appendToGroup()/prependToGroup() and removeFromGroup() functions.

If/when this bootstrap/app.php file gets a bit messy (which I imagine it will), we can clean it up by moving this stuff to an invokable class.

I’ve created a class in app/Http called AppMiddleware.php. As old habits die hard, you might call this Kernel.php

Now in bootstrap/app.php, replace the closure with a new instance of our invokable class.

Like all new things, change is hard. I have a lingering question with this change. We have all the same tooling and ability, but it’s a bit more difficult, at least at first, to understand how to manage it all.

I feel like this change will require a lot more implicit knowledge of the built-in middleware. Does it matter? Probably not. But in some cases, you might need to remove or replace a default middleware. This requires you actually know what is there by default. Not just in the global middleware, but in groups and aliased middleware. Personally I feel like this change increases the learning curve. Even I forget what’s there by default or what the aliases are and reference the app/Http/Kernel.php file regularly.

Let me know your thoughts about this.

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Jacques MBABAZI

Content creator about Laravel and it's ecosystem, Laravel developer with four years of experience. Support me here https://www.buymeacoffee.com/loficoders