Skip to content
Joomla REST API - Writing your own API Plugin

Writing your own API Plugin

You can add new APIs by creating plugins for your own components. Plugin needs to be of 'api' type. Each plugin can have multiple API resources.

Each resource supports the GET, POST and DELETE operations. These are exposed by creating methods of the same name, i.e. get() post() and delete() in each of the resources. If a resouce URL is accessed via HTTP POST, the post() method is called, and similarly for the rest.

API plugin file structure

  • users.php (plugin entry file)
  • users.xml (plugin manifest file)
  • users (**Resources* folder having resource file, keep name same as plugin name)*
    • login.php (Resource file)
    • users.php (Resource file)
  • language/en-GB (Resource folder having resource file, keep name same as plugin name)
    • en-GB.plg_api_users.ini (add plugin language constant)
    • en-GB.plg_api_users.sys.ini


You can add multiple resource in resource folder and use them for different purpose. Usually, each resource will map to an object type for your extension.

Create plugin entry file users.php file

This is the entry file for the API plugin, the things that re deifned in the file are resource locations, and making certain resources public. Below is the code for the file -


// Class structure example
class PlgAPIUsers extends ApiPlugin
    public function __construct(&$subject, $config = array())
        parent::__construct($subject, $config = array());

        // Set resource path
        ApiResource::addIncludePath(dirname(__FILE__) . '/users');

        // Load language files
        $lang = JFactory::getLanguage();
        $lang->load('com_users', JPATH_ADMINISTRATOR, '', true);

        // Set the login resource to be public
        $this->setResourceAccess('login', 'public', 'post');

Create resource file login.php file

Although you can place the resource files anywhere, the recommended approach is to place them within a folder inside your plugin.

Below is example code for a resource file. Notice how the methods get() and post() are implemented. The methods may return an array or an object which will be automatically converted to JSON or XML.


class UsersApiResourceLogin extends ApiResource
    public function get()
        $result       = new \stdClass;
        $result->id   = 45;
        $result->name = "John Doe";

        $this->plugin->setResponse( $result );

    public function post()
        // Add your code here

        $this->plugin->setResponse( $result );

The array or object from the plugin should be set via $this->plugin->setResponse().

Error Handling

It is possible to send HTTP errors with the right HTTP codes using the APIError::raiseError() method. Depending on the type of error you can raise different Exceptions that set the appropriate HTTP code.


public function post()
    // Validation Error sets HTTP 400
    ApiError::raiseError(10001, "Invalid Email", 'APIValidationException');

    // Access Error sets HTTP 403
    ApiError::raiseError(11001, "Not authorised", 'APIUnauthorisedException');

    // Not Found Error sets HTTP 404
    ApiError::raiseError(12001, "Record not found", 'APINotFoundException');

    // General Error sets HTTP 400
    ApiError::raiseError(10000, "Bad Request", 'APIException');


You are free to specify your own error code and message. It is also possible to add more Exceptions in the components/com_api/libraries/exceptions folder.

When using APIError::raiseError() there is no need to use $this->plugin->setResponse() since com_api handles the response and setting the http code.


The exception classes extend PHP's Exception class. So you will need to use numeric only codes, since PHP does not support non-numeric Exception codes.

Private and public resources

Unless specified, all resources are private, which means an API token is needed to access. However, it is possible to make certain resource and methods public by using the setResourceAccess() access method as

$this->setResourceAccess('login', 'public', 'post') ;

The first parameter is the resource name, second is status (should be public to make it public) and last is HTTP method to make public. Setting a resource public will mean that the API URL for that resource will not need any authentication.

Access Control

ACL needs to be handled by the respective plugins. com_api makes a $this->user object available in the resource class. This is same as the JFactory::getUser() object for the user to whom the token belongs. It is upto the resource to use the user object and apply the necessary access control and produce authorisation errors.


class ExamplesApiResourceExample extends ApiResource
    public function get()
        // Will dump the object for the user who is making the API call

Create .xml file

Finally create a manifest XML so that your plugin can be installed. Set group as 'api', add plugin name and other details.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<extension version="3.0.0" type="plugin" group="api" method="upgrade">
        <filename plugin="your_plugin_name">your_plugin_name.php</filename>
    <languages folder="language">
        <language tag="en-GB">en-GB/en-GB.plg_api_plugin_name.ini</language>
        <language tag="en-GB">en-GB/en-GB.plg_api_plugin_name.sys.ini</language>

Tips for writing plugins

  • Think of API plugins as a replacement of controllers. Any business logic that you won't put in a controller, leave it out of the plugin too. Load and use your models in the plugin code.
  • It is not recommended to have API specific language files unless absolutely necessary. You will ususally make plugins for an existing component, so load the language files from that component.
  • To create the list and details for an object type, you can either add a condition based on id query parameter in the get() method, or have a separate resource for the list.

Last update: June 3, 2020