Zend\ServiceManager can instantiate delegators of requested services, decorating them as specified in a delegate factory implementing the delegator factory interface.

The delegate pattern is useful in cases when you want to wrap a real service in a decorator, or generally intercept actions being performed on the delegate in an AOP fashioned way.

Delegator factory signature

A delegator factory has the following signature:

use Interop\Container\ContainerInterface;

public function __invoke(
    ContainerInterface $container,
    callable $callback,
    array $options = null

The parameters passed to the delegator factory are the following:

A Delegator factory use case

A typical use case for delegators is to handle logic before or after a method is called.

In the following example, an event is being triggered before Buzzer::buzz() is called and some output text is prepended.

The delegated object Buzzer (original object) is defined as following:

class Buzzer
    public function buzz()
        return 'Buzz!';

The delegator class BuzzerDelegator has the following structure:

use Zend\EventManager\EventManagerInterface;

class BuzzerDelegator extends Buzzer
    protected $realBuzzer;
    protected $eventManager;

    public function __construct(Buzzer $realBuzzer, EventManagerInterface $eventManager)
        $this->realBuzzer   = $realBuzzer;
        $this->eventManager = $eventManager;

    public function buzz()
        $this->eventManager->trigger('buzz', $this);

        return $this->realBuzzer->buzz();

To use the BuzzerDelegator, you can run the following code:

$wrappedBuzzer = new Buzzer();
$eventManager  = new Zend\EventManager\EventManager();

$eventManager->attach('buzz', function () { echo "Stare at the art!\n"; });

$buzzer = new BuzzerDelegator($wrappedBuzzer, $eventManager);

echo $buzzer->buzz(); // "Stare at the art!\nBuzz!"

This logic is fairly simple as long as you have access to the instantiation logic of the $wrappedBuzzer object.

You may not always be able to define how $wrappedBuzzer is created, since a factory for it may be defined by some code to which you don't have access, or which you cannot modify without introducing further complexity.

Delegator factories solve this specific problem by allowing you to wrap, decorate or modify any existing service.

A simple delegator factory for the buzzer service can be implemented as following:

use Interop\Container\ContainerInterface;
use Zend\ServiceManager\Factory\DelegatorFactoryInterface;

class BuzzerDelegatorFactory implements DelegatorFactoryInterface
    public function __invoke(ContainerInterface $container, $name, callable $callback, array $options = null)
        $realBuzzer   = call_user_func($callback);
        $eventManager = $serviceLocator->get('EventManager');

        $eventManager->attach('buzz', function () { echo "Stare at the art!\n"; });

        return new BuzzerDelegator($realBuzzer, $eventManager);

You can then instruct the service manager to handle the service buzzer as a delegate:

use Zend\ServiceManager\Factory\InvokableClass;
use Zend\ServiceManager\ServiceManager;

$serviceManager = new Zend\ServiceManager\ServiceManager([
    'factories' => [
        Buzzer::class => InvokableClass::class,
    'delegators' => [
        Buzzer::class => [

// now, when fetching Buzzer, we get a BuzzerDelegator instead
$buzzer = $serviceManager->get(Buzzer::class);

$buzzer->buzz(); // "Stare at the art!\nBuzz!"

You can specify multiple delegators for a service. Each will add one decorator around the instantiation logic of that particular service.

This latter point is the primary use case for delegators: decorating the instantiation logic for a service.