Five ways to pass parameters to Apache APISIX

Five ways to pass parameters to Apache APISIX

I recently read 6 Ways To Pass Parameters to Spring REST API. Though the title is a bit misleading, as it's unrelated to REST, it does an excellent job listing all ways to send parameters to a Spring application. I want to do the same for Apache APISIX; it's beneficial when you write a custom plugin.

General setup

The general setup uses Docker Compose and static configuration. I'll have one plugin per way to pass parameters.

    image: kennethreitz/httpbin                                         #1
    image: apache/apisix:3.9.0-debian
      - ./apisix/conf/config.yml:/usr/local/apisix/conf/config.yaml:ro
      - ./apisix/conf/apisix.yml:/usr/local/apisix/conf/apisix.yaml:ro  #2
      - ./apisix/plugins:/opt/apisix/plugins:ro                         #3
      - "9080:9080"
  1. Local httpbin for more reliable results and less outbound network traffic

  2. Static configuration file

  3. Plugins folder, one file per plugin

  role: data_plane
    config_provider: yaml                                              #1
  extra_lua_path: /opt/?.lua                                           #2
  - proxy-rewrite                                                      #3
  - path-variables                                                     #4
# ...
  1. Set static configuration

  2. Use every Lua file under /opt/apisix/plugins as a plugin

  3. Regular plugin

  4. Custom plugin, one per alternative

Path variables

Path variables are a straightforward way to pass data. Their main issue is that they are limited to simple values, e.g., /links/{n}/{offset}. The naive approach is to write the following Lua code:

local core = require("apisix.core")

function _M.access(_, ctx)
    local captures, _ =, '/path/(.*)/(.*)')  --1-2
    for k, v in pairs(captures) do
        core.log.warn('Order-Value pair: ', k, '=', v)
  1. APISIX stores the URI in ctx.var.uri

  2. Nginx offers a regexp API

Let's try:

curl localhost:9080/path/15/3

The log displays:

Order-Value pair: 0=/path/15/3
Order-Value pair: 1=15
Order-Value pair: 2=3

I didn't manage errors, though. Alternatively, we can rely on Apache APISIX features: a specific router. The default router, radixtree_host_uri, uses both the host and the URI to match requests. radixtree_uri_with_parameter lets go of the host part but also matches parameters.

  extra_lua_path: /opt/?.lua
    http: radixtree_uri_with_parameter

We need to update the route:

  - path-variables       
  - uri: /path/:n/:offset                                              #1
    upstream_id: 1
      path-variables: ~
  1. Store n and offset in the context, under ctx.curr_req_matched

We keep the plugin just to log the path variables:

function _M.access(_, ctx)
    core.log.warn('n: ', ctx.curr_req_matched.n, ', offset: ', ctx.curr_req_matched.offset)

The result is as expected with the same request as above:

n: 15, offset: 3

Query parameters

Query parameters are another regular way to pass data. Like path variables, you can only pass simple values, e.g., /?foo=bar. The Lua code doesn't require regexp:

local core = require("apisix.core")

function _M.access(_, _)
    local args, _ = ngx.req.get_uri_args()
    for k, v in pairs(args) do
        core.log.warn('Order-Value pair: ', k, '=', v)

Let's try:

curl localhost:9080/query\?foo=one\&bar=three

The log displays:

Key-Value pair: bar=three
Key-Value pair: foo=one

Remember that query parameters have no order.

Our code contains an issue, though. The ngx.req.get_uri_args() accepts parameters. Remember that the client can pass a query parameter multiple times with different values, e.g., ?foo=one&foo=two? The first parameter is the maximum number of values returned for a single query parameter. To avoid ignoring value, we should set it to 0, i.e., unbounded.

Since every plugin designer must remember it, we can add the result to the context for other plugins down the chain. The updated code looks like this:

local core = require("apisix.core")

function _M.get_uri_args(ctx)
    if not ctx then
        ctx = ngx.ctx.api_ctx
    if not ctx.req_uri_args then
        local args, _ = ngx.req.get_uri_args(0)
        ctx.req_uri_args = args
    return ctx.req_uri_args

function _M.access(_, ctx)
    for k, v in pairs(ctx.req_uri_args) do
        core.log.warn('Key-Value pair: ', k, '=', v)

Request headers

Request headers are another way to pass parameters. While they generally only contain simple values, you can also use them to send structured values, e.g., JSON. Depending on your requirement, APISIX can list all request headers or a specific one. Here, I get all of them:

local core = require("apisix.core")

function _M.access(_, _)
    local headers = core.request.headers()
    for k, v in pairs(headers) do
        core.log.warn('Key-Value pair: ', k, '=', v)

We test with a simple request:

curl -H 'foo: 1' -H 'bar: two'  localhost:9080/headers

And we got more than we expected because curl added default headers:

Key-Value pair: user-agent=curl/8.4.0
Key-Value pair: bar=two
Key-Value pair: foo=1
Key-Value pair: host=localhost:9080
Key-Value pair: accept=*/*

Request body

Setting a request body is the usual way to send structured data, e.g, JSON. Nginx offers a simple API to collect such data.

local core = require("apisix.core")

function _M.access(_, _)
    local args = core.request.get_post_args()                          --1
    local body = next(args, nil)                                       --2
    core.log.warn('Body: ', body)
  1. Access the body as a regular Lua table

  2. A table is necessary in case of multipart payloads, e.g., file uploads. Here, we assume there's a single arg, the content body.

It's time to test:

curl  localhost:9080/body -X POST -d '{ "foo": 1, "bar": { "baz": "two" } }'

The result is as expected:

Body: { "foo": 1, "bar": { "baz": "two" } }


Last but not least, we can send parameters via cookies. The difference with previous alternatives is that cookies persist on the client side, and the browser sends them with each request. On the Lua side, we need to know the cookie name instead of listing all query parameters or headers.

local core = require("apisix.core")

function _M.access(_, ctx)
    local foo = ctx.var.cookie_foo                                     --1
    core.log.warn('Cookie value: ', foo)
  1. The cookie is named foo and is case-insensitive

Let's test:

curl --cookie "foo=Bar"  localhost:9080/cookies

The result is correct:

Cookie value: Bar


In this post, we listed five alternatives to pass parameters server-side and explained how to access them on Apache APISIX. Here's the API summary:

Path variableAPISIX RouterUse the radixtree_uri_with_parameter router
Query parameterNginxngx.req.get_uri_args(0)
Request headerAPISIX core libcore.request.headers()
Request bodyAPISIX core libcore.request.get_post_args()
CookieMethod context parameterctx.var.cookie_<name>

Thanks a lot to Zeping Bai for his review and explanations.

The complete source code for this post can be found on GitHub:

To go further:

Originally published at A Java Geek on April 28th, 2024