Since the last post on Tide, there have been a number of excellent contributions from a bunch of new contributors! In this post, I want to talk about the work that @tirr-c has done to substantially improve the middleware story.

As always: if you find these topics interesting, we’d love to have your help building Tide! There’s an active pipeline of open issues, including ones marked as good starter issues, and there’s ongoing discussion for what we’d like to see in a 0.1 release. Getting involved now is the best opportunity to help shape the direction of this community-built framework!

Improving the Middleware trait

In the last post, we proposed before/after-style middleware, borrowing from the actix-web design:

pub trait Middleware<Data>: Send + Sync {
    /// Asynchronously transform the incoming request, or abort further handling by immediately
    /// returning a response.
    fn request(
        data: &mut Data,
        req: Request,
        params: &RouteMatch<'_>,
    ) -> FutureObj<'static, Result<Request, Response>>;

    /// Asynchronously transform the outgoing response.
    fn response(
        data: &mut Data,
        head: &Head,
        resp: Response,
    ) -> FutureObj<'static, Response>;

Since then, however, @tirr-c recognized that there were substantial gains to be had by instead using an “around” design for the core trait:

/// Middleware that wraps around remaining middleware chain.
pub trait Middleware<Data>: Send + Sync {
    /// Asynchronously handle the request, and return a response.
    fn handle<'a>(&'a self, ctx: RequestContext<'a, Data>) -> FutureObj<'a, Response>;

This new interface is built using a convenient type, RequestContext, that encapsulates all of the information middleware has at its disposal:

pub struct RequestContext<'a, Data> {
    pub app_data: Data,
    pub req: Request,
    pub params: RouteMatch<'a>,
    // plus additional, private fields

impl<'a, Data: Clone + Send> RequestContext<'a, Data> {
    /// Consume this context, and run remaining middleware chain to completion.
    pub fn next(self) -> FutureObj<'a, Response> { ... }

In this approach, each middleware is given complete control over the remaining request-handling pipeline. Keep in mind, however, that middleware and endpoints run strictly after routing, and so the pipeline must return a response. (There’s an open issue for internal redirects.)

Notably, it’s simple to build before/after-style middleware constructors on top of this interface, so we don’t lose that convenience. But using “around” middleware as the core interface has some key advantages:

  • It’s much simpler to communicate data between steps that take place before and after the rest of the pipeline. With the original proposal, you would have to use the Request::extensions typemap to inject information for later extraction, and that information would have to be 'static. With around middleware, all you need is a let binding, and the binding can contain borrows that persist until after the rest of the pipeline has executed.

  • The original approach forced an allocation (of a FutureObj) for every middleware on every request. In the new interface, a new FutureObj only needs to be allocated when the middleware is performing asynchronous work or steps that occur after the rest of the pipeline.

  • The new interface is arguably simpler and tidier.

Thanks to @tirr-c for working this all out!

Nested routers with customized middleware

In the last post, middleware could only be applied at the top level, and hence all endpoints would employ the exact same middleware. However, it can be useful to introduce middleware that applies only to a subset of routes. Usually, such customization groups routes by their path structure, and that’s the approach we’ve taken in Tide as well.

To apply middleware to a subset of routes with a common prefix, you can use nest:

let mut app = App::new(your_data);"/some/prefix").nest(|r| {
    r.middleware(some_middleware);      // applies to everything under `/some/prefix`"/").get(prefix_top_endpoint); // matches `/some/prefix`"/foo").get(foo_endpoint);     // matches `/some/prefix/foo`

// no middleware is applied to this route"/").get(index_endpoint);


The nest method gives you mutable access to a subrouter nested under the prefix you chose:

impl<'a, Data> Resource<'a, Data> {
    /// "Nest" a subrouter to the path.
    /// This method will build a fresh `Router` and give a mutable reference to it to the builder
    /// function. Builder can set up a subrouter using the `Router`. All middleware applied inside
    /// the builder will be local to the subrouter and its descendents.
    pub fn nest(self, builder: impl FnOnce(&mut Router<Data>));

We expect that this same nesting setup will have many other uses over time, including configuration.

Thanks again go to @tirr-c for working through several iterations of this design!

Computed values: an example

Finally, we now have a full example of using computed values for cookie parsing, which you can find here! A very important area of ongoing work will be to see how much traditional middleware can be expressed as computed values instead. Doing so makes reasoning much easier (since computed values are less powerful) and eliminates some common middleware pitfalls (order dependence, amongst others).

We plan to move this computed value into Tide proper, and it would be wonderful to accumulate many other such building blocks; PRs very welcome!

What’s next?

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks since Tide’s initial code went online, with a growing, enthusiastic contributor base already pushing it forward faster than I’d dared to hope! Building on this momentum, there’s a lot more we want to tackle; here are some highlights.


  • (Issue 62): Provide a “catch-all” routing mechanism, often expressed as * in routing syntax, which will match any path with a given prefix.
  • (Issue 82): Work out a design for “internal redirects”, where middleware or endpoints can abort the current request-handling pipeline in favor of a redirected request.
  • (Issue 24): Design an API for programmatically generating URLs based on the routing table.


  • (Issue 73): Make a “middleware stack” more of a first-class concept, ultimately supporting debugging and other hooks.
  • (Issue 26): Build middleware for compression.
  • (Issue 61): Provide some notion of “always-applied” middleware, which is used even if there is no matching route.


  • (Issue 5): Build a configuration system, including the ability to customize extractor behavior at point in a router.

Additional HTTP methods

  • (Issue 51): Provide built-in support for OPTIONS.


  • (Issue 83): Explore app testing approaches like mocking.


  • (Issue 77): Start writing a high-level guide for using Tide.
  • (Issue 20): Build some larger example applications.
  • (Issue 19): Document how endpoint signatures (and hence, extractors) work.

A 0.1 release

  • (Issue 60): Finally, we’ve begun discussing what should land prior to a 0.1 release, and have an initial milestone here.


Finally, a shout out to the 19 people (!) who have already contributed to Tide: