A symfony project is made of one or more applications. Applications share nothing, but the model classes. But, even if the symfony documentation is crystal clear on the subject, many developers want to share more than just the model. The most requested feature being the ability to create links to a frontend application from a backend one. Think about a CMS backend where you want the user to edit an article and then link to the corresponding article in the frontend.

In symfony 1.0, it was next to impossible (you needed to hardcode the frontend routing rule in the backend). In symfony 1.1, it was possible, but a bit tedious, error prone, and so it was not officially documented.

As of symfony 1.2, there is a very simple way to do it, thanks to a small modification we made to the way configuration handler works. Beside parsing the configuration files and converting the resulting array to a PHP cache, some configuration handler classes can now also "evaluate" the configuration for direct consumption (the autoload, database, and routing configuration handlers sports this new behavior).

For example, if you want to convert a file containing route definitions in the YAML format to their corresponding routes objects, you can do something like the following:

$config = new sfRoutingConfigHandler();
$routes = $config->evaluate(array('/path/to/routing.yml'));

If you execute the above code snippet, the $routes array will be populated with an array of route objects, equivalent to the route definitions in the YAML file. The generate() method takes an array of YAML filenames as its first argument and merge the content of the files.

And thanks to the framework decoupling and the sfPatternRouting::setRoutes() method, you can easily create a frontend routing object from any PHP script:

$routing = new sfPatternRouting(new sfEventDispatcher());
$routing->setRoutes($routes);

Generating URLs is now as simple as calling the routing object generate() method:

$routing->generate('homepage');
$routing->generate('article', array('id' => $id));

The generate() method takes a route name as its first argument, and an array of parameters as its second one.

Let's use this knowledge to simplify the creation of frontend URLs from a backend application.

In the backendConfiguration class, add the following code:

// apps/backend/config/backendConfiguration.class.php
class backendConfiguration extends sfApplicationConfiguration
{
  protected $frontendRouting = null;
 
  public function generateFrontendUrl($name, $parameters = array())
  {
    return 'http://frontend.example.com'.$this->getFrontendRouting()->generate($name, $parameters);
  }
 
  public function getFrontendRouting()
  {
    if (!$this->frontendRouting)
    {
      $this->frontendRouting = new sfPatternRouting(new sfEventDispatcher());
 
      $config = new sfRoutingConfigHandler();
      $routes = $config->evaluate(array(sfConfig::get('sf_apps_dir').'/frontend/config/routing.yml'));
 
      $this->frontendRouting->setRoutes($routes);
    }
 
    return $this->frontendRouting;
  }
 
  // ...
}

Notice that the generateFrontendUrl() method always generates absolute URLs for obvious reasons. This is the only information that still need to be hardcoded, as symfony does not have this knowledge and cannot guess it.

With this code in place, you can now generate a frontend URL from anywhere in the backend. Here is for instance how to redirect the user to the frontend from a backend action:

$this->redirect($this->getContext()->getConfiguration()->generateFrontendUrl('hello', array('name' => 'Bar')));

You can also create a small helper for templates:

function link_to_frontend($name, $parameters)
{
  return sfProjectConfiguration::getActive()->generateFrontendUrl($name, $parameters);
}

That's all there is to it!

If you have many applications, it is pretty easy to refactor the above code to generate URL for and from any other application.

The technique described in this post is used internally by symfony for the app:routes tasks.