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Building Middleware with Go

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    Prabhat Kumar Sahu
    I write software and other technical stuff.


Middleware is used when clients running on different computers communicate with servers. We will go through what middleware is, its usage scenarios, and how it is built-in Go.

What is HTTP Middleware

To better understand HTTP middleware, let's first explain some basic concepts. If a developer wants to establish communication between two computers (one of which provides resources or services for the other), he/she will build a client/server system to do so. The server waits for the client to request a resource or service, and forwards the requested resource to the client in response. The requested resource or service may be:

  • Authentication - Client identity verification
  • Authorization - Confirm whether the client has access to a specific service provided by the server
  • Provide services
  • Ensure data security, ensure that clients cannot access unauthorized data, and prevent data theft

Servers are divided into two categories: stateless and stateful. Stateless servers do not care about the client's communication state, while stateful servers do.

Middleware is a software entity that connects a software or enterprise application to another software application and constitutes a distributed system. HTTP requests are sent to the API server, and the server returns an HTTP response to the client.

Middleware has the ability to receive requests and preprocess them before they reach the processing method. It will then process the concrete method and send its response to the client.

Middleware usage scenarios

The most common usage scenarios are:

  • A logger to log every REST API access request
  • Authenticate the user session and keep the communication alive
  • User authentication
  • Write custom logic to extract request data
  • Append attributes to response information when serving clients


In the Go language, a middleware Handler encapsulates another http.Handler to pre-processes or post-process a request http.Handler. It sits between the Go web server and the actual handler, hence the name "middleware".

The following is a basic middleware Handler:

package middleware
import (

func middleware(handler http.Handler) http.Handler {
     return http.HandlerFunc(func(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
         fmt.Println("Executing middleware before request phase!")
         handler.ServeHTTP(w, r)
         fmt.Println("Executing middleware after response phase!")
 func mainLogic(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
     fmt.Println("Executing mainHandler...")
     w.Write([]byte("OK")) } func main() {
     // HandlerFunc return HTTP Handler
     mainLogicHandler := http.HandlerFunc(mainLogic)
     http.Handle("/", middleware(mainLogicHandler))
     http.ListenAndServe(":8000", nil)

Running the code in the terminal gives the following output:

go run middleware.go

Executing middleware before request phase!
Executing mainHandler...
Executing middleware after response phase!

Log Middleware Handler

To better explain how the logging middleware Handler works, we will actually build one and execute some methods. The following example creates two middleware Handlers: middlewareGreetingsHandlerand middlewareTimeHandler. The Gorilla Mux route's HandleFunc()methods are used to handle middleware methods.

package main

import (

func middlewareGreetingsHandler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
    w.Write([]byte("Hello There!"))

func middlewareTimeHandler(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
    curTime := time.Now().Format(time.Kitchen)
    w.Write([]byte(fmt.Sprintf("the current time is %v", curTime)))

func main() {
    addr := os.Getenv("ADDR")

    mux := http.NewServeMux()
    mux.HandleFunc("/v1/greetings", middlewareHelloHandler)
    mux.HandleFunc("/v1/time", middlewareTimeHandler)

    log.Printf("server is listening at %s", addr)
    log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(addr, mux))

First set the ADDR environment variable to a free port, and execute the go run main.go command to run the service:

export ADDR=localhost:8080
go run main.go

After the service runs successfully, access the response information of localhost:8080/v1/greetingsView middlewareGreetingsHandlerthe response information of localhost:8080/v1/timeView middlewareTimeHandler. After completion, we need to create log middleware to record all service access request information and enumerate the request method, resource path, and processing time. First, we have to initialize a new structure to http.Handlerimplement the ServeHTTP()methods of the interface. This struct will have a field to trace back to the process called http.Handler.

// Create a request log middleware Handler structure named Logger
type Logger struct {
    handler http.Handler

// ServeHTTP passes the request to the real Handler and logs the request details
func (l *Logger) ServeHTTP(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
    start := time.Now()
    l.handler.ServeHTTP(w, r)
    log.Printf("%s %s %v", r.Method, r.URL.Path, time.Since(start))

// NewLogger constructs a new log middleware Handler
func NewLogger(handlerToWrap http.Handler) *Logger {
    return &Logger{handlerToWrap}

NewLogger()Receives http.Handlerand returns a new encapsulated Loggerinstance . Due to http.ServeMuxthe satisfy http.Handlerinterface, the entire mux can be encapsulated with logging middleware. In addition to that, since Loggerimplements the ServeHTTP()method and satisfies the http.Handlerinterface , it can also be passed to the http.ListenAndServe()method instead of wrapping the mux. Finally, modify the main()method :

func main() {
    addr := os.Getenv("ADDR")

    mux := http.NewServeMux()
    mux.HandleFunc("/v1/greetings", middlewareGreetingsHandler)
    mux.HandleFunc("/v1/time", middlewareTimeHandler)
    // Wrap mux with logging middleware
    wrappedMux := NewLogger(mux)

    log.Printf("server is listening at %s", addr)
    // Use wrappedMux instead of mux as root handler
    log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(addr, wrappedMux))

Restart the service and request the API, no matter what the request path is, all request logs will be displayed in the terminal.****

HandlersLogging with Gorilla's middleware

Gorilla Mux routing has a Handlerspackage that provides various middleware for common tasks, including:

  • LoggingHandler: log in Apache common log format
  • CompressionHandler: Compressed response information
  • RecoveryHandler : recover from the panic error

In the following example, we use LoggingHandlerto to implement API logging. First, install the package with the go get command :

go get ""

Import the package and use it in the loggingMiddleware.go program :

package main
import (


func mainLogic(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
     log.Println("Processing request!")
     log.Println("Finished processing request")

func main() {
     r := mux.NewRouter()
     r.HandleFunc("/", mainLogic)
     loggedRouter := handlers.LoggingHandler(os.Stdout, r)
     http.ListenAndServe(":8080", loggedRouter)

Run the service:

go run loggingMiddleware.go

Accessed in a browser, the localhost:8080following output is displayed:

2022/07/08 8:51:44 Processing request!
2022/07/08 8:51:44 Finished processing request - - [08/July/2022:8:51:44 +0535] "GET / HTTP/1.1"
200 2 - - [08/July/2022:8:51:44 +0535] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 19

HandlersThis example only covers the usage of the Gorilla Mux package


If you have any questions, recommendations, or critiques, I can be reached via Twitter or via my mail. Feel free to reach out to me.