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Creating Pages in Symfony2

Creating a new page in Symfony2 is a simple two-step process:

  • Create a route: A route defines the URL (e.g. /about) to your page and specifies a controller (which is a PHP function) that Symfony2 should execute when the URL of an incoming request matches the route pattern;
  • Create a controller: A controller is a PHP function that takes the incoming request and transforms it into the Symfony2 Response object that's returned to the user.

This simple approach is beautiful because it matches the way that the Web works. Every interaction on the Web is initiated by an HTTP request. The job of your application is simply to interpret the request and return the appropriate HTTP response.

Symfony2 follows this philosophy and provides you with tools and conventions to keep your application organized as it grows in users and complexity.

Sounds simple enough? Let's dive in!

The "Hello Symfony!" Page

Let's start with a spin off of the classic "Hello World!" application. When you're finished, the user will be able to get a personal greeting (e.g. "Hello Symfony") by going to the following URL:


Actually, you'll be able to replace Symfony with any other name to be greeted. To create the page, follow the simple two-step process.


The tutorial assumes that you've already downloaded Symfony2 and configured your webserver. The above URL assumes that localhost points to the web directory of your new Symfony2 project. For detailed information on this process, see the documentation on the web server you are using. Here's the relevant documentation page for some web server you might be using:

Before you begin: Create the Bundle

Before you begin, you'll need to create a bundle. In Symfony2, a :term:`bundle` is like a plugin, except that all of the code in your application will live inside a bundle.

A bundle is nothing more than a directory that houses everything related to a specific feature, including PHP classes, configuration, and even stylesheets and Javascript files (see :ref:`page-creation-bundles`).

To create a bundle called AcmeHelloBundle (a play bundle that you'll build in this chapter), run the following command and follow the on-screen instructions (use all of the default options):

$ php app/console generate:bundle --namespace=Acme/HelloBundle --format=yml

Behind the scenes, a directory is created for the bundle at src/Acme/HelloBundle. A line is also automatically added to the app/AppKernel.php file so that the bundle is registered with the kernel:

// app/AppKernel.php
public function registerBundles()
    $bundles = array(
        // ...
        new Acme\HelloBundle\AcmeHelloBundle(),
    // ...

    return $bundles;

Now that you have a bundle setup, you can begin building your application inside the bundle.

Step 1: Create the Route

By default, the routing configuration file in a Symfony2 application is located at app/config/routing.yml. Like all configuration in Symfony2, you can also choose to use XML or PHP out of the box to configure routes.

If you look at the main routing file, you'll see that Symfony already added an entry when you generated the AcmeHelloBundle:

This entry is pretty basic: it tells Symfony to load routing configuration from the Resources/config/routing.yml file that lives inside the AcmeHelloBundle. This means that you place routing configuration directly in app/config/routing.yml or organize your routes throughout your application, and import them from here.

Now that the routing.yml file from the bundle is being imported, add the new route that defines the URL of the page that you're about to create:

The routing consists of two basic pieces: the pattern, which is the URL that this route will match, and a defaults array, which specifies the controller that should be executed. The placeholder syntax in the pattern ({name}) is a wildcard. It means that /hello/Ryan, /hello/Fabien or any other similar URL will match this route. The {name} placeholder parameter will also be passed to the controller so that you can use its value to personally greet the user.


The routing system has many more great features for creating flexible and powerful URL structures in your application. For more details, see the chapter all about :doc:`Routing </book/routing>`.

Step 2: Create the Controller

When a URL such as /hello/Ryan is handled by the application, the hello route is matched and the AcmeHelloBundle:Hello:index controller is executed by the framework. The second step of the page-creation process is to create that controller.

The controller - AcmeHelloBundle:Hello:index is the logical name of the controller, and it maps to the indexAction method of a PHP class called Acme\HelloBundle\Controller\HelloController. Start by creating this file inside your AcmeHelloBundle:

// src/Acme/HelloBundle/Controller/HelloController.php
namespace Acme\HelloBundle\Controller;

class HelloController

In reality, the controller is nothing more than a PHP method that you create and Symfony executes. This is where your code uses information from the request to build and prepare the resource being requested. Except in some advanced cases, the end product of a controller is always the same: a Symfony2 Response object.

Create the indexAction method that Symfony will execute when the hello route is matched:

// src/Acme/HelloBundle/Controller/HelloController.php
namespace Acme\HelloBundle\Controller;

use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;

class HelloController
    public function indexAction($name)
        return new Response('<html><body>Hello '.$name.'!</body></html>');

The controller is simple: it creates a new Response object, whose first argument is the content that should be used in the response (a small HTML page in this example).

Congratulations! After creating only a route and a controller, you already have a fully-functional page! If you've setup everything correctly, your application should greet you:



You can also view your app in the "prod" :ref:`environment<environments-summary>` by visiting:


If you get an error, it's likely because you need to clear your cache by running:

$ php app/console cache:clear --env=prod --no-debug

An optional, but common, third step in the process is to create a template.


Controllers are the main entry point for your code and a key ingredient when creating pages. Much more information can be found in the :doc:`Controller Chapter </book/controller>`.

Optional Step 3: Create the Template

Templates allow you to move all of the presentation (e.g. HTML code) into a separate file and reuse different portions of the page layout. Instead of writing the HTML inside the controller, render a template instead:


In order to use the render() method, your controller must extend the Symfony\Bundle\FrameworkBundle\Controller\Controller class (API docs: :class:`Symfony\\Bundle\\FrameworkBundle\\Controller\\Controller`), which adds shortcuts for tasks that are common inside controllers. This is done in the above example by adding the use statement on line 4 and then extending Controller on line 6.

The render() method creates a Response object filled with the content of the given, rendered template. Like any other controller, you will ultimately return that Response object.

Notice that there are two different examples for rendering the template. By default, Symfony2 supports two different templating languages: classic PHP templates and the succinct but powerful Twig templates. Don't be alarmed - you're free to choose either or even both in the same project.

The controller renders the AcmeHelloBundle:Hello:index.html.twig template, which uses the following naming convention:


This is the logical name of the template, which is mapped to a physical location using the following convention.


In this case, AcmeHelloBundle is the bundle name, Hello is the controller, and index.html.twig the template:

Let's step through the Twig template line-by-line:

  • line 2: The extends token defines a parent template. The template explicitly defines a layout file inside of which it will be placed.
  • line 4: The block token says that everything inside should be placed inside a block called body. As you'll see, it's the responsibility of the parent template (base.html.twig) to ultimately render the block called body.

The parent template, ::base.html.twig, is missing both the BundleName and ControllerName portions of its name (hence the double colon (::) at the beginning). This means that the template lives outside of the bundles and in the app directory:

The base template file defines the HTML layout and renders the body block that you defined in the index.html.twig template. It also renders a title block, which you could choose to define in the index.html.twig template. Since you did not define the title block in the child template, it defaults to "Welcome!".

Templates are a powerful way to render and organize the content for your page. A template can render anything, from HTML markup, to CSS code, or anything else that the controller may need to return.

In the lifecycle of handling a request, the templating engine is simply an optional tool. Recall that the goal of each controller is to return a Response object. Templates are a powerful, but optional, tool for creating the content for that Response object.

The Directory Structure

After just a few short sections, you already understand the philosophy behind creating and rendering pages in Symfony2. You've also already begun to see how Symfony2 projects are structured and organized. By the end of this section, you'll know where to find and put different types of files and why.

Though entirely flexible, by default, each Symfony :term:`application` has the same basic and recommended directory structure:

  • app/: This directory contains the application configuration;
  • src/: All the project PHP code is stored under this directory;
  • vendor/: Any vendor libraries are placed here by convention;
  • web/: This is the web root directory and contains any publicly accessible files;

The Web Directory

The web root directory is the home of all public and static files including images, stylesheets, and JavaScript files. It is also where each :term:`front controller` lives:

// web/app.php
require_once __DIR__.'/../app/bootstrap.php.cache';
require_once __DIR__.'/../app/AppKernel.php';

use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;

$kernel = new AppKernel('prod', false);

The front controller file (app.php in this example) is the actual PHP file that's executed when using a Symfony2 application and its job is to use a Kernel class, AppKernel, to bootstrap the application.


Having a front controller means different and more flexible URLs than are used in a typical flat PHP application. When using a front controller, URLs are formatted in the following way:


The front controller, app.php, is executed and the "internal:" URL /hello/Ryan is routed internally using the routing configuration. By using Apache mod_rewrite rules, you can force the app.php file to be executed without needing to specify it in the URL:


Though front controllers are essential in handling every request, you'll rarely need to modify or even think about them. We'll mention them again briefly in the Environments section.

The Application (app) Directory

As you saw in the front controller, the AppKernel class is the main entry point of the application and is responsible for all configuration. As such, it is stored in the app/ directory.

This class must implement two methods that define everything that Symfony needs to know about your application. You don't even need to worry about these methods when starting - Symfony fills them in for you with sensible defaults.

In day-to-day development, you'll mostly use the app/ directory to modify configuration and routing files in the app/config/ directory (see Application Configuration). It also contains the application cache directory (app/cache), a log directory (app/logs) and a directory for application-level resource files, such as templates (app/Resources). You'll learn more about each of these directories in later chapters.


When Symfony is loading, a special file - app/autoload.php - is included. This file is responsible for configuring the autoloader, which will autoload your application files from the src/ directory and third-party libraries from the vendor/ directory.

Because of the autoloader, you never need to worry about using include or require statements. Instead, Symfony2 uses the namespace of a class to determine its location and automatically includes the file on your behalf the instant you need a class.

The autoloader is already configured to look in the src/ directory for any of your PHP classes. For autoloading to work, the class name and path to the file have to follow the same pattern:

Class Name:

Typically, the only time you'll need to worry about the app/autoload.php file is when you're including a new third-party library in the vendor/ directory. For more information on autoloading, see :doc:`How to autoload Classes</components/class_loader>`.

The Source (src) Directory

Put simply, the src/ directory contains all of the actual code (PHP code, templates, configuration files, stylesheets, etc) that drives your application. When developing, the vast majority of your work will be done inside one or more bundles that you create in this directory.

But what exactly is a :term:`bundle`?

The Bundle System

A bundle is similar to a plugin in other software, but even better. The key difference is that everything is a bundle in Symfony2, including both the core framework functionality and the code written for your application. Bundles are first-class citizens in Symfony2. This gives you the flexibility to use pre-built features packaged in third-party bundles or to distribute your own bundles. It makes it easy to pick and choose which features to enable in your application and to optimize them the way you want.


While you'll learn the basics here, an entire cookbook entry is devoted to the organization and best practices of :doc:`bundles</cookbook/bundles/best_practices>`.

A bundle is simply a structured set of files within a directory that implement a single feature. You might create a BlogBundle, a ForumBundle or a bundle for user management (many of these exist already as open source bundles). Each directory contains everything related to that feature, including PHP files, templates, stylesheets, JavaScripts, tests and anything else. Every aspect of a feature exists in a bundle and every feature lives in a bundle.

An application is made up of bundles as defined in the registerBundles() method of the AppKernel class:

// app/AppKernel.php
public function registerBundles()
    $bundles = array(
        new Symfony\Bundle\FrameworkBundle\FrameworkBundle(),
        new Symfony\Bundle\SecurityBundle\SecurityBundle(),
        new Symfony\Bundle\TwigBundle\TwigBundle(),
        new Symfony\Bundle\MonologBundle\MonologBundle(),
        new Symfony\Bundle\SwiftmailerBundle\SwiftmailerBundle(),
        new Symfony\Bundle\DoctrineBundle\DoctrineBundle(),
        new Symfony\Bundle\AsseticBundle\AsseticBundle(),
        new Sensio\Bundle\FrameworkExtraBundle\SensioFrameworkExtraBundle(),
        new JMS\SecurityExtraBundle\JMSSecurityExtraBundle(),

    if (in_array($this->getEnvironment(), array('dev', 'test'))) {
        $bundles[] = new Acme\DemoBundle\AcmeDemoBundle();
        $bundles[] = new Symfony\Bundle\WebProfilerBundle\WebProfilerBundle();
        $bundles[] = new Sensio\Bundle\DistributionBundle\SensioDistributionBundle();
        $bundles[] = new Sensio\Bundle\GeneratorBundle\SensioGeneratorBundle();

    return $bundles;

With the registerBundles() method, you have total control over which bundles are used by your application (including the core Symfony bundles).


A bundle can live anywhere as long as it can be autoloaded (via the autoloader configured at app/autoload.php).

Creating a Bundle

The Symfony Standard Edition comes with a handy task that creates a fully-functional bundle for you. Of course, creating a bundle by hand is pretty easy as well.

To show you how simple the bundle system is, create a new bundle called AcmeTestBundle and enable it.


The Acme portion is just a dummy name that should be replaced by some "vendor" name that represents you or your organization (e.g. ABCTestBundle for some company named ABC).

Start by creating a src/Acme/TestBundle/ directory and adding a new file called AcmeTestBundle.php:

// src/Acme/TestBundle/AcmeTestBundle.php
namespace Acme\TestBundle;

use Symfony\Component\HttpKernel\Bundle\Bundle;

class AcmeTestBundle extends Bundle


The name AcmeTestBundle follows the standard :ref:`Bundle naming conventions<bundles-naming-conventions>`. You could also choose to shorten the name of the bundle to simply TestBundle by naming this class TestBundle (and naming the file TestBundle.php).

This empty class is the only piece you need to create the new bundle. Though commonly empty, this class is powerful and can be used to customize the behavior of the bundle.

Now that you've created the bundle, enable it via the AppKernel class:

// app/AppKernel.php
public function registerBundles()
    $bundles = array(
        // ...

        // register your bundles
        new Acme\TestBundle\AcmeTestBundle(),
    // ...

    return $bundles;

And while it doesn't do anything yet, AcmeTestBundle is now ready to be used.

And as easy as this is, Symfony also provides a command-line interface for generating a basic bundle skeleton:

$ php app/console generate:bundle --namespace=Acme/TestBundle

The bundle skeleton generates with a basic controller, template and routing resource that can be customized. You'll learn more about Symfony2's command-line tools later.


Whenever creating a new bundle or using a third-party bundle, always make sure the bundle has been enabled in registerBundles(). When using the generate:bundle command, this is done for you.

Bundle Directory Structure

The directory structure of a bundle is simple and flexible. By default, the bundle system follows a set of conventions that help to keep code consistent between all Symfony2 bundles. Take a look at AcmeHelloBundle, as it contains some of the most common elements of a bundle:

  • Controller/ contains the controllers of the bundle (e.g. HelloController.php);
  • DependencyInjection/ holds certain dependency injection extension classes, which may import service configuration, register compiler passes or more (this directory is not necessary);
  • Resources/config/ houses configuration, including routing configuration (e.g. routing.yml);
  • Resources/views/ holds templates organized by controller name (e.g. Hello/index.html.twig);
  • Resources/public/ contains web assets (images, stylesheets, etc) and is copied or symbolically linked into the project web/ directory via the assets:install console command;
  • Tests/ holds all tests for the bundle.

A bundle can be as small or large as the feature it implements. It contains only the files you need and nothing else.

As you move through the book, you'll learn how to persist objects to a database, create and validate forms, create translations for your application, write tests and much more. Each of these has their own place and role within the bundle.

Application Configuration

An application consists of a collection of bundles representing all of the features and capabilities of your application. Each bundle can be customized via configuration files written in YAML, XML or PHP. By default, the main configuration file lives in the app/config/ directory and is called either config.yml, config.xml or config.php depending on which format you prefer:


You'll learn exactly how to load each file/format in the next section Environments.

Each top-level entry like framework or twig defines the configuration for a particular bundle. For example, the framework key defines the configuration for the core Symfony FrameworkBundle and includes configuration for the routing, templating, and other core systems.

For now, don't worry about the specific configuration options in each section. The configuration file ships with sensible defaults. As you read more and explore each part of Symfony2, you'll learn about the specific configuration options of each feature.

Configuration Formats

Throughout the chapters, all configuration examples will be shown in all three formats (YAML, XML and PHP). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The choice of which to use is up to you:

  • YAML: Simple, clean and readable;
  • XML: More powerful than YAML at times and supports IDE autocompletion;
  • PHP: Very powerful but less readable than standard configuration formats.

Default Configuration Dump

You can dump the default configuration for a bundle in yaml to the console using the config:dump-reference command. Here is an example of dumping the default FrameworkBundle configuration:

app/console config:dump-reference FrameworkBundle

The extension alias (configuration key) can also be used:

app/console config:dump-reference framework


See the cookbook article: :doc:`How to expose a Semantic Configuration for a Bundle</cookbook/bundles/extension>` for information on adding configuration for your own bundle.


An application can run in various environments. The different environments share the same PHP code (apart from the front controller), but use different configuration. For instance, a dev environment will log warnings and errors, while a prod environment will only log errors. Some files are rebuilt on each request in the dev environment (for the developer's convenience), but cached in the prod environment. All environments live together on the same machine and execute the same application.

A Symfony2 project generally begins with three environments (dev, test and prod), though creating new environments is easy. You can view your application in different environments simply by changing the front controller in your browser. To see the application in the dev environment, access the application via the development front controller:


If you'd like to see how your application will behave in the production environment, call the prod front controller instead:


Since the prod environment is optimized for speed; the configuration, routing and Twig templates are compiled into flat PHP classes and cached. When viewing changes in the prod environment, you'll need to clear these cached files and allow them to rebuild:

php app/console cache:clear --env=prod --no-debug


If you open the web/app.php file, you'll find that it's configured explicitly to use the prod environment:

$kernel = new AppKernel('prod', false);

You can create a new front controller for a new environment by copying this file and changing prod to some other value.


The test environment is used when running automated tests and cannot be accessed directly through the browser. See the :doc:`testing chapter</book/testing>` for more details.

Environment Configuration

The AppKernel class is responsible for actually loading the configuration file of your choice:

// app/AppKernel.php
public function registerContainerConfiguration(LoaderInterface $loader)

You already know that the .yml extension can be changed to .xml or .php if you prefer to use either XML or PHP to write your configuration. Notice also that each environment loads its own configuration file. Consider the configuration file for the dev environment.

The imports key is similar to a PHP include statement and guarantees that the main configuration file (config.yml) is loaded first. The rest of the file tweaks the default configuration for increased logging and other settings conducive to a development environment.

Both the prod and test environments follow the same model: each environment imports the base configuration file and then modifies its configuration values to fit the needs of the specific environment. This is just a convention, but one that allows you to reuse most of your configuration and customize just pieces of it between environments.


Congratulations! You've now seen every fundamental aspect of Symfony2 and have hopefully discovered how easy and flexible it can be. And while there are a lot of features still to come, be sure to keep the following basic points in mind:

  • creating a page is a three-step process involving a route, a controller and (optionally) a template.
  • each project contains just a few main directories: web/ (web assets and the front controllers), app/ (configuration), src/ (your bundles), and vendor/ (third-party code) (there's also a bin/ directory that's used to help updated vendor libraries);
  • each feature in Symfony2 (including the Symfony2 framework core) is organized into a bundle, which is a structured set of files for that feature;
  • the configuration for each bundle lives in the Resources/config directory of the bundle and can be specified in YAML, XML or PHP;
  • the global application configuration lives in the app/config directory;
  • each environment is accessible via a different front controller (e.g. app.php and app_dev.php) and loads a different configuration file.

From here, each chapter will introduce you to more and more powerful tools and advanced concepts. The more you know about Symfony2, the more you'll appreciate the flexibility of its architecture and the power it gives you to rapidly develop applications.

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