CatalystX::Controller::PSGI - Using Plack apps inside Catalyst Controllers - Part 1


Sometimes you might want to use a Plack app as part of your application, but don't want to mess around with your .psgi file mounting different parts under different urls, or running separate servers and setting up rewrite/proxy rules.


The scenario is thus, we have an existing application, which used to be a cgi/modperl application, and we've since wrapped in Plack. Now we've decided we want to start using Catalyst, but we don't want to rewite our decade old legacy app, and we don't want to run multiple servers or mess around with rewrite rules.


The Aim

Wrap our legacy app in Catalyst, so that all requests will dispatch to the existing code, unless a new action is created in which case that will take precedence.

Our legacy app has the following actions,


We're going to replace the following action with a Catalyst action


The Code

We'll start by creating a new Catalyst app MyApp

Now that that's out of the way, let's get cracking.

First, edit the new to use CatalystX::Controller::PSGI and mount our legacy .psgi as the root action

edit MyApp/lib/MyApp/Controller/ and replace everything with the following, since has given us a lot of helpful defaults, which are not helpful in our case.

    package MyApp::Controller::Root;
    use Moose;
    use namespace::autoclean;

    BEGIN { extends 'CatalystX::Controller::PSGI' };

    __PACKAGE__->config(namespace => '');

    use Plack::Util;

    has 'legacy_app' => (
        is      => 'ro',
        builder => '_build_legacy_app',

    sub _build_legacy_app {
        return Plack::Util::load_psgi( MyApp->path_to("bin/legacy.psgi") );

    sub call {
        my ( $self, $env ) = @_;

        $self->legacy_app->( $env );


Ok, so what's going on here? The first 7 lines are the standard boilerplate for the Root controller, after that we setup a Moose accessor that will hold our legacy .psgi app. The important part of this is sub call, which CatalystX::Controller::PSGI uses as the / action of this controller. Which is also the / of the app, because this is the root controller.

So now any url will match the root action (call is registered as :Local, meaning it can take an unlimited amount of arguments). But it still won't work, because bin/legacy.psgi doesn't exist. So let's fix that by creating it.

    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Plack::Response;

    use Legacy::App;
    use Legacy::DB;

    my $db = Legacy::DB->new(
        dbspec  => "legacy",
        region  => "en",

    my $legacy_app = Legacy::App->new(
        db      => $db,

    my $app = sub {
        my ( $env ) = @_;

        my ( $status, $body );
        if ( $env->{PATH_INFO} eq 'some/action' ) {
           ( $status, $body ) = $legacy_app->handle_request("some/action");
        elsif ( $env->{PATH_INFO} eq 'some/other/action' ) {
           ( $status, $body ) = $legacy_app->handle_request("some/other/action");
        elsif ( $env->{PATH_INFO} eq 'foo' ) {
           ( $status, $body ) = $legacy_app->handle_request("foo");
        else {
            $status = 404;
            $body = 'not found';

        my $res = Plack::Response->new( $status );
        $res->body( $body );

        return $res->finalize;


So now our "legacy" app is ready to rock. Let's fire it up.

    plackup -I MyApp/lib MyApp/myapp.psgi

If we fire up our web browser and head to you'll see "this is some/other/action", which is great, because it means Catalyst is dispatching our requests to the psgi app. Obviously this has a performance hit, as we've added the Catalyst request/response cycle in, but it doesn't matter, as we're going to gain more than we've lost in the long term.

Next lets replace /some/other/action with our new awesome Catalyst code.

Create the file MyApp/lib/MyApp/Controller/

    touch MyApp/lib/MyApp/Controller/

edit the above add the following

    package MyApp::Controller::Some;
    use Moose;
    use namespace::autoclean;

    BEGIN { extends 'Catalyst::Controller' };

    sub other_action: Path('other/action') {
        my ( $self, $c ) = @_;

        $c->res->body("WOOO CATALYST");


Now if we fire up our web browser and head to we'll see "WOOO CATALYST", which is awesome. Now bolt on some DBIx::Class, extract some of the legacy app out into reusable modules, if it's not already, combine those with Catalyst::Model::Adaptor and before you know it, you'll be a Catalyst app with a little legacy code, rather than a legacy app with a little Catalyst


Although the above code is simple, and plainly not a real world legacy app, the the example still applies, and it's a good start on modernising an old codebase, and taking full advantage of the rapid development that Catalyst offers you, once it's set up.