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ReCaptcha in Zend Framework 2 without Zend/Form

The problem

Captcha is a very useful mechanism to avoid automated abuse of your sites and applications. In particular, reCAPTCHA is a Google powered service that offers a free and simple way to implement a captcha protection field in your forms or pages. Zend Framework 2 implements his own components to handle captcha and a specific one to handle reCAPTCHA service. At the moment, the ZF2 documentation is very usefull if you want to integrate a reCAPTCHA in your Zend/Form component, but lacks in describing how to use reCAPTCHA service component alone. Actually Zend/Form is very powerful, but sometimes a developer need to use standard html to implement his own forms and this prevents to use ReCaptcha as Zend/Form element.

The solution

To reach our achievement, we will implement a reCAPTCHA service that can be use all over the project to generate captchas and test them against values inserted by user. This service will be used principally in views and controllers. The following code implementation assumes that you have a working ZF2 project, configured as described in official documentation.

[notice ]

Please, keep in mind that this tutorial was written in March 2013 when stable ZF2 release was 2.1. With new releases, something could work differently.


Before proceed, you need to register a reCAPTCHA account by clicking here. You need to register a Google account, if you don’t have, and then configure your keys. At the end of the process, you will posses two keys: public and private.

Now we can start implementation by installing ZendService/ReCaptcha package that is not included in ZF2 core by default. To perform this operations through composer, let’s add the following code (if not just set) to our composer.json file in project root.


    "repositories": [
            "type": "composer",
            "url": ""
    "require": {
        "zendframework/zendservice-recaptcha": "*",

Now, let’s open a terminal and reach project root directory to lunch the composer update command:

$ php composer.phar self-update

$ php composer.phar update

At the end of the process, if everything goes well, we will find a new folder named zendservice-recaptcha in /vendor/zendframework/. Now we can start to configure our reCAPTCHA service.

Let’s configure a service in the project called reCaptchaService that we will retrieve in controllers to generate captcha field. Because of we want be able to use different keys for different instances of the application, we will store service configuration in the file local.php. So add the following lines paying attention to replace values with your domain’s keys.


return array(
    'recaptcha' => array(
        'name' => 'recaptcha',
        'privKey' => 'put here your reCAPTCHA private-key',
        'pubKey' => 'put here your reCAPTCHA public-key',

Then, let’s insert code to initialize the service.


return array(
    'service_manager' => array(
        'factories' => array(
            'reCaptchaService' => function(ZendServiceManagerServiceManager $sm) {
                $config = $sm->get('Config');
                return new ZendCaptchaReCaptcha($config['recaptcha']);

At this point, we have a working service that can be retrieved through ZendServiceManager component. The following code represent an example of how to use ReCaptchaService.

This controller generates and validates the captcha field:

class IndexController extends AbstractActionController

    public function signupAction()
        // retrieve ReCaptchaService instance and generate a new captcha
        $captcha = $this->getServiceLocator()->get('ReCaptchaService')->generate();

        // pass captcha to view
        $viewModel = new ViewModel(array(
            'captcha' => $captcha,
            'captchaError' => false,

        $request = $this->getRequest();

        // if user submitted form
        if ($request->isPost()) {

            // check if captcha value is valid
            $resCaptcha = $captcha->isValid($_POST['recaptcha_response_field'], $_POST);
            if (!$resCaptcha) {

                // if captcha is not valid, set error field as true
                $viewModel->setVariable('captchaError', true);

            // At this point you can check and use user's submitted
            // data as you prefer.

            // My preferred approach is to validate form anyway, then
            // perform operations only if captcha is valid. Using this
            // approach I can notify form errors even if captcha value
            // is wrong or missing.

            //---------OPTIONAL (only to have an idea)------------------------//

            // we have an InputFilter because we don't use ZendForm, but
            // wont renounce to his filter and validation power
            $inputFilter = new UserInputFilterSignup();

            if ($inputFilter->isValid() && $resCaptcha) {
                $data = $inputFilter->getValues();
                $userService->setupOnSignUp($data['email'], $data['password'], $data);

                return $this->redirect()->toRoute('home');

           $viewModel->setVariable('inputValues', $inputFilter->getRawValues());
           $viewModel->setVariable('errors', $inputFilter->getMessages());

        return $viewModel;


The correspondent view shows captcha field and an error message, if needed.

<form action="...">...
 <?php echo $captcha->getService()->getHtml();?>

 <?php if ($captchaError): ?>
 <?php echo $this->translate('Wrong captcha value') ?>
 <?php endif; ?>

Please, note that reCAPTCHA include his own error message. I inserted a second one because I prefer to handle it by myself.


In this article we learn how to directly use ZendServiceReCaptcha component. Of course this code can be improved and captcha can be used in a different ways.

All comments and questions are welcome.


  • Ruzza
    Posted Gennaio 1, 2014

    why is it so different from zend official zendservice/recaptcha docs?

    • Valerio Galano
      Posted Gennaio 3, 2014

      Hi Ruzza,
      what docs are you talking about? Can you attach link, please?

  • anuragtrivedi
    Posted Febbraio 8, 2014

    Fatal error: Class ‘ZendCaptcha’ not found in C:xampphtdocssampleconfigautoloadglobal.php on line 19

    • Chukwuma Nze
      Posted Febbraio 14, 2014

      To @anuragtrivedi, don’t place the factory code in your global. You don’t need the reCaptchaService available for the entire application but just for Authorizing access (unless you’re using MailHide then don’t listen to me) Instead place it in your Authorization Module where it’s more relevant. Also, don’t forget to add the appropriate use statements at the top of the Module or global file which is probably why you are seeing that error:

      use ZendServiceReCaptchaReCaptcha;

      public function getServiceConfig()

      * ReCaptcha Service
      ‘ReCaptchaService’ => function($serviceManager)
      $config = $serviceManager->get(‘config’);
      return new ReCaptcha


  • Panagiotis
    Posted Giugno 9, 2014

    Hi there OR Salve,

    Thank you for this article, but I think you miss some details. You have to explicitly say to a novice, how to manipulate the module.config.php according to my opinion!

    • Valerio Galano
      Posted Giugno 9, 2014

      To put reCaptcha configurations in module.config.php is your choice. You can also simply add it to /config/autoload/local.php as shown.
      The purpose of this tutorial is to show how to use reCaptcha in a context different from Zend/Form component.
      Anyway, keep in mind that this tutorial was written in March 2013 on ZF2.0, so something could work differently on latest releases.

Comments are closed.