Loïc Faugeron Technical Blog

Learn Symfony2 - part 2: Empty application 25/06/2014

Deprecated: This series has been re-written - see The Ultimate Developer Guide to Symfony

This is the second article of the series on learning the Symfony2 framework. Have a look at the first one: Composer.

In the first article we began to create an empty project with the following files:

├── composer.json
├── composer.lock
└── .gitignore

Running composer install should create a vendor directory, which we ignored in git.

Here's the repository where you can find the actual code.

We'll now see how to create an empty Symfony2 application.

The front controller

First things first, we will create an index file which will act as a front controller: it will be the only entry point of our application and will decide which page to display.

Create its directory:

mkdir web

Then the file:

// File: web/app.php

use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;

require_once __DIR__.'/../vendor/autoload.php';
require_once __DIR__.'/../app/AppKernel.php';

$kernel = new AppKernel('prod', false);
$request = Request::createFromGlobals();
$response = $kernel->handle($request);
$kernel->terminate($request, $response);

First it includes Composer's autoloader: it will require every files needed.

Then we create an instance of our Kernel with the production environment and the debug utilities disabled. This class acts like a web server: it takes a HTTP request as input and returns a HTTP response as output.

Request::createFromGlobals() creates a representation of the HTTP request. It is filled from PHP's variable super globals ($_GET, $_POST, etc).

The kernel then handles the request. To keep explanations short, let's simply say that it will find the controller associated to the requested URL. It is the controller's responsibility to return a representation of the HTTP response (see Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response).

The $response->send() method will simply call the PHP header function and print a string representing the response's body (usually HTML, JSON or anything you want).

Finally the $kernel->terminate() method will call any tasks which registered to the kernel.terminate event. This alows you to return a response as fast as possible and then execute some actions like sending emails.

Note: events aren't in the scope of this article, but they're worth mentioning.

Creating the application's kernel

The HttpKernel component provides you with a Kernel class, which we will extend.

Create the following directory:

mkdir app

And then the kernel file:

// File: app/AppKernel.php

use Symfony\Component\HttpKernel\Kernel;
use Symfony\Component\Config\Loader\LoaderInterface;

class AppKernel extends Kernel
    public function registerBundles()
        return array(
            new Symfony\Bundle\FrameworkBundle\FrameworkBundle(),

    public function registerContainerConfiguration(LoaderInterface $loader)

This class will load the project's configuration. This is also where you register the project's bundles. We'll talk more about bundles in the next article, for now the only thing you need to know is that they're like plugins.

The Kernel has the responsibility to look at every registered bundle to retrieve their configuration.

The FrameworkBundle defines some services and allows you to choose what to enable via configuration.

Note: Services are objects which do one thing and do it well. They provide exactly what they're called: a service. We'll learn more about them in one of the next article.

We need to put some configuration in order to be able to make it work properly.

Create its directory:

mkdir app/config

And the the YAML file:

# File: app/config/config.yml
    secret: "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."

The secret parameter is used as a seed to generate random strings (for e.g. CSRF tokens).

Now that we have our application structure, let's commit it:

git add -A
git commit -m 'Created application structure'

Logs and cache

You'll also need to create logs and cache directories:

mkdir app/{cache,logs}
touch app/{cache,logs}/.gitkeep

Git doesn't allow to commit empty directory, hence the .gitkeep files.

Because files in these directories are temporaries, we'll ignore them:

echo '/app/cache/*' >> .gitignore
echo '/app/logs/*' >> .gitignore
git add -A
git add -f app/cache/.gitkeep
git add -f app/logs/.gitkeep
git commit -m 'Created temporary directories'

Apache configuration

In order for your website to be browsed, you'll need to configure your web server. This configuration is well explained in the documentation, so here's a dump of an apache vhost:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName knight.local

    DocumentRoot /home/loic.chardonnet/Projects/gnugat/knight/web

    ErrorLog "/home/loic.chardonnet/Projects/gnugat/knight/app/logs/apache_errors.log"
    CustomLog "/home/loic.chardonnet/Projects/gnugat/knight/app/logs/apache_accesses.log" common

    <Directory /home/loic.chardonnet/Projects/gnugat/knight/web>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
        AllowOverride None
        Order allow,deny
        allow from all
        <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
            RewriteEngine On
            RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
            RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /app.php [QSA,L]

If you run into some permission problem (like writing in cache and logs), you might consider to change APACHE_RUN_USER and APACHE_RUN_GROUP environment variables present in /etc/apache2/envvars to your own user and group.


A Symfony2 application follows this pattern: a front controller associate an URL to a controller which takes a HTTP request and returns a HTTP response.

The next article will be all about bundles, so stay tuned :) .