Problem Details

This library addresses RFC 7807: Problem Details for HTTP APIs for usage with PSR-7 HTTP Messages and PSR-15 HTTP Handlers.

Problem Details for HTTP APIs

When developing APIs, it is good practice to:

  • Use HTTP status codes to help convey error status.
  • Provide sufficient error detail to clients.

Unfortunately, unless you are using a documented RPC format such as XML-RPC, JSON-RPC, or SOAP, how to return error details is not dictated, and many API developers end up creating their own formats. Most standardized RPC formats do not use the HTTP status code to convey an error, only the payload, and, in fact, most clients of such services will fail if a non-200 status is returned.

RFC 7807 provides a standard format for returning problem details from HTTP APIs. In particular, it specifies the following:

  • Error responses MUST use standard HTTP status codes in the 400 or 500 range to detail the general category of error.
  • Error responses will be of the Content-Type application/problem, appending a serialization format of either json or xml: application/problem+json, application/problem+xml.
  • Error responses will have each of the following keys:
  • detail, a human-readable description of the specific error.
  • type, a unique URI for the general error type, generally pointing to human-readable documentation of that given type.
  • title, a short, human-readable title for the general error type; the title should not change for given types.
  • status, conveying the HTTP status code; this is so that all information is in one place, but also to correct for changes in the status code due to usage of proxy servers.

Optionally, an instance key may be present, with a unique URI for the specific error; this will often point to an error log for that specific response.

Finally, problem details are extensible. You may provide additional keys that give the consumer more information about the error. As an example, in an API that has rate limiting, you may want to indicate how many requests the user has made, what the rate limit is, and when the limit resets:

    "type": "",
    "title": "You have exceeded your API rate limit.",
    "detail": "You have hit your rate limit of 5000 requests per hour.",
    "requests_this_hour": 5025,
    "rate_limit": 5000,
    "rate_limit_reset": "2017-05-03T14:39-0500"

Custom errors

What if you have custom error types?

RFC 7807 specifically allows you to define these with the following:

  • A URI to documentation of the error type.
  • A human-readable title describing the error type.
  • One or more HTTP status codes associated with the error type.

For your custom errors, you use the above with a problem details response; if the problem type requires additional information, you provide it within the payload, and document that information at the URI describing the type.

This approach allows usage of a single, general-purpose media type for returning problem details for your HTTP API, while allowing full customization of what types of errors you report.


This library provides custom PSR-7 responses for JSON and XML representations of application/problem. Additionally, it provides a factory that will introspect the contents of a provided Accept header in order to determine which representation to return, defaulting to the XML representation. This factory may then be composed in middleware in order to create and return problem details responses.

Additionally, the library provides middleware that acts as an error and exception handler and wrapping calls to a request handler, converting each into problem details responses.

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