Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Unported License.

Master Symfony2 fundamentals

Be trained by SensioLabs experts (2 to 6 day sessions -- French or English).
trainings.sensiolabs.com

Discover the SensioLabs Support

Access to the SensioLabs Competency Center for an exclusive and tailor-made support on Symfony
sensiolabs.com

How to Dynamically Modify Forms Using Form Events

Caution: You are browsing the documentation for Symfony version 2.1 which is not maintained anymore. If some of your projects are still using this version, consider upgrading.

How to Dynamically Modify Forms Using Form Events

Often times, a form can't be created statically. In this entry, you'll learn how to customize your form based on three common use-cases:

  1. Customizing your Form based on the underlying Data

Example: you have a "Product" form and need to modify/add/remove a field based on the data on the underlying Product being edited.

  1. How to Dynamically Generate Forms based on user Data

Example: you create a "Friend Message" form and need to build a drop-down that contains only users that are friends with the current authenticated user.

  1. Dynamic generation for submitted Forms

Example: on a registration form, you have a "country" field and a "state" field which should populate dynamically based on the value in the "country" field.

Customizing your Form based on the underlying Data

Before jumping right into dynamic form generation, let's have a quick review of what a bare form class looks like:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/ProductType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

use Symfony\Component\Form\AbstractType;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormBuilderInterface;
use Symfony\Component\OptionsResolver\OptionsResolverInterface;

class ProductType extends AbstractType
{
    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $builder->add('name');
        $builder->add('price');
    }

    public function setDefaultOptions(OptionsResolverInterface $resolver)
    {
        $resolver->setDefaults(array(
            'data_class' => 'Acme\DemoBundle\Entity\Product'
        ));
    }

    public function getName()
    {
        return 'product';
    }
}

Note

If this particular section of code isn't already familiar to you, you probably need to take a step back and first review the Forms chapter before proceeding.

Assume for a moment that this form utilizes an imaginary "Product" class that has only two properties ("name" and "price"). The form generated from this class will look the exact same regardless if a new Product is being created or if an existing product is being edited (e.g. a product fetched from the database).

Suppose now, that you don't want the user to be able to change the name value once the object has been created. To do this, you can rely on Symfony's Event Dispatcher system to analyze the data on the object and modify the form based on the Product object's data. In this entry, you'll learn how to add this level of flexibility to your forms.

Adding An Event Subscriber To A Form Class

So, instead of directly adding that "name" widget via your ProductType form class, let's delegate the responsibility of creating that particular field to an Event Subscriber:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/ProductType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

// ...
use Acme\DemoBundle\Form\EventListener\AddNameFieldSubscriber;

class ProductType extends AbstractType
{
    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $subscriber = new AddNameFieldSubscriber($builder->getFormFactory());
        $builder->addEventSubscriber($subscriber);
        $builder->add('price');
    }

    // ...
}

The event subscriber is passed the FormFactory object in its constructor so that your new subscriber is capable of creating the form widget once it is notified of the dispatched event during form creation.

Inside the Event Subscriber Class

The goal is to create a "name" field only if the underlying Product object is new (e.g. hasn't been persisted to the database). Based on that, the subscriber might look like the following:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/EventListener/AddNameFieldSubscriber.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\EventListener;

use Symfony\Component\Form\FormEvent;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormEvents;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormFactoryInterface;
use Symfony\Component\EventDispatcher\EventSubscriberInterface;

class AddNameFieldSubscriber implements EventSubscriberInterface
{
    private $factory;

    public function __construct(FormFactoryInterface $factory)
    {
        $this->factory = $factory;
    }

    public static function getSubscribedEvents()
    {
        // Tells the dispatcher that you want to listen on the form.pre_set_data
        // event and that the preSetData method should be called.
        return array(FormEvents::PRE_SET_DATA => 'preSetData');
    }

    public function preSetData(FormEvent $event)
    {
        $data = $event->getData();
        $form = $event->getForm();

        // check if the product object is "new"
        // If you didn't pass any data to the form, the data is "null".
        // This should be considered a new "Product"
        if (!$data || !$data->getId()) {
            $form->add($this->factory->createNamed('name', 'text'));
        }
    }
}

Tip

The FormEvents::PRE_SET_DATA line actually resolves to the string form.pre_set_data. FormEvents serves an organizational purpose. It is a centralized location in which you can find all of the various form events available.

Note

You can view the full list of form events via the FormEvents class.

How to Dynamically Generate Forms based on user Data

Sometimes you want a form to be generated dynamically based not only on data from the form but also on something else - like some data from the current user. Suppose you have a social website where a user can only message people who are his friends on the website. In this case, a "choice list" of whom to message should only contain users that are the current user's friends.

Creating the Form Type

Using an event listener, your form might look like this:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/FriendMessageFormType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

use Symfony\Component\Form\AbstractType;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormBuilderInterface;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormEvents;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormEvent;
use Symfony\Component\Security\Core\SecurityContext;
use Symfony\Component\OptionsResolver\OptionsResolverInterface;

class FriendMessageFormType extends AbstractType
{
    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $builder
            ->add('subject', 'text')
            ->add('body', 'textarea')
        ;
        $builder->addEventListener(FormEvents::PRE_SET_DATA, function(FormEvent $event){
            // ... add a choice list of friends of the current application user
        });
    }

    public function getName()
    {
        return 'acme_friend_message';
    }

    public function setDefaultOptions(OptionsResolverInterface $resolver)
    {
    }
}

The problem is now to get the current user and create a choice field that contains only this user's friends.

Luckily it is pretty easy to inject a service inside of the form. This can be done in the constructor:

1
2
3
4
5
6
private $securityContext;

public function __construct(SecurityContext $securityContext)
{
    $this->securityContext = $securityContext;
}

Note

You might wonder, now that you have access to the User (through the security context), why not just use it directly in buildForm and omit the event listener? This is because doing so in the buildForm method would result in the whole form type being modified and not just this one form instance. This may not usually be a problem, but technically a single form type could be used on a single request to create many forms or fields.

Customizing the Form Type

Now that you have all the basics in place you an take advantage of the securityContext and fill in the listener logic:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/FormType/FriendMessageFormType.php

use Symfony\Component\Security\Core\SecurityContext;
use Doctrine\ORM\EntityRepository;
// ...

class FriendMessageFormType extends AbstractType
{
    private $securityContext;

    public function __construct(SecurityContext $securityContext)
    {
        $this->securityContext = $securityContext;
    }

    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $builder
            ->add('subject', 'text')
            ->add('body', 'textarea')
        ;

        // grab the user, do a quick sanity check that one exists
        $user = $this->securityContext->getToken()->getUser();
        if (!$user) {
            throw new \LogicException(
                'The FriendMessageFormType cannot be used without an authenticated user!'
            );
        }

        $factory = $builder->getFormFactory();

        $builder->addEventListener(
            FormEvents::PRE_SET_DATA,
            function(FormEvent $event) use($user, $factory){
                $form = $event->getForm();

                $formOptions = array(
                    'class' => 'Acme\DemoBundle\Entity\User',
                    'multiple' => false,
                    'expanded' => false,
                    'property' => 'fullName',
                    'query_builder' => function(EntityRepository $er) use ($user) {
                        // build a custom query, or call a method on your repository (even better!)
                    },
                );

                // create the field, this is similar the $builder->add()
                // field name, field type, data, options
                $form->add($factory->createNamed('friend', 'entity', null, $formOptions));
            }
        );
    }

    // ...
}

Using the Form

Our form is now ready to use and there are two possible ways to use it inside of a controller:

  1. create it manually and remember to pass the security context to it;

or

  1. define it as a service.

a) Creating the Form manually

This is very simple, and is probably the better approach unless you're using your new form type in many places or embedding it into other forms:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
class FriendMessageController extends Controller
{
    public function newAction(Request $request)
    {
        $securityContext = $this->container->get('security.context');
        $form = $this->createForm(
            new FriendMessageFormType($securityContext)
        );

        // ...
    }
}

b) Defining the Form as a Service

To define your form as a service, just create a normal service and then tag it with form.type.

  • YAML
    # app/config/config.yml
    services:
        acme.form.friend_message:
            class: Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type\FriendMessageFormType
            arguments: [@security.context]
            tags:
                -
                    name: form.type
                    alias: acme_friend_message
  • XML
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <services>
        <service id="acme.form.friend_message" class="Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type\FriendMessageFormType">
            <argument type="service" id="security.context" />
            <tag name="form.type" alias="acme_friend_message" />
        </service>
    </services>
    
  • PHP
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    // app/config/config.php
    $definition = new Definition('Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type\FriendMessageFormType');
    $definition->addTag('form.type', array('alias' => 'acme_friend_message'));
    $container->setDefinition(
        'acme.form.friend_message',
        $definition,
        array('security.context')
    );
    

If you wish to create it from within a controller or any other service that has access to the form factory, you then use:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
class FriendMessageController extends Controller
{
    public function newAction(Request $request)
    {
        $form = $this->createForm('acme_friend_message');

        // ...
    }
}

You can also easily embed the form type into another form:

1
2
3
4
5
// inside some other "form type" class
public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
{
    $builder->add('message', 'acme_friend_message');
}

Dynamic generation for submitted Forms

Another case that can appear is that you want to customize the form specific to the data that was submitted by the user. For example, imagine you have a registration form for sports gatherings. Some events will allow you to specify your preferred position on the field. This would be a choice field for example. However the possible choices will depend on each sport. Football will have attack, defense, goalkeeper etc... Baseball will have a pitcher but will not have goalkeeper. You will need the correct options to be set in order for validation to pass.

The meetup is passed as an entity hidden field to the form. So we can access each sport like this:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/SportMeetupType.php
class SportMeetupType extends AbstractType
{
    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $builder
            ->add('number_of_people', 'text')
            ->add('discount_coupon', 'text')
        ;
        $factory = $builder->getFormFactory();

        $builder->addEventListener(
            FormEvents::PRE_SET_DATA,
            function(FormEvent $event) use($user, $factory){
                $form = $event->getForm();

                // this would be your entity, i.e. SportMeetup
                $data = $event->getData();

                $positions = $data->getSport()->getAvailablePositions();

                // ... proceed with customizing the form based on available positions
            }
        );
    }
}

When you're building this form to display to the user for the first time, then this example works perfectly.

However, things get more difficult when you handle the form submission. This is be cause the PRE_SET_DATA event tells us the data that you're starting with (e.g. an empty SportMeetup object), not the submitted data.

On a form, we can usually listen to the following events:

  • PRE_SET_DATA
  • POST_SET_DATA
  • PRE_BIND
  • BIND
  • POST_BIND

When listening to BIND and POST_BIND, it's already "too late" to make changes to the form. Fortunately, PRE_BIND is perfect for this. There is, however, a big difference in what $event->getData() returns for each of these events. Specifically, in PRE_BIND, $event->getData() returns the raw data submitted by the user.

This can be used to get the SportMeetup id and retrieve it from the database, given you have a reference to the object manager (if using doctrine). In the end, you have an event subscriber that listens to two different events, requires some external services and customizes the form. In such a situation, it's probably better to define this as a service rather than using an anonymous function as the event listener callback.

The subscriber would now look like:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/EventListener/RegistrationSportListener.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\EventListener;

use Symfony\Component\Form\FormFactoryInterface;
use Doctrine\ORM\EntityManager;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormEvent;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormEvents;
use Symfony\Component\EventDispatcher\EventSubscriberInterface;

class RegistrationSportListener implements EventSubscriberInterface
{
    /**
     * @var FormFactoryInterface
     */
    private $factory;

    /**
     * @var EntityManager
     */
    private $om;

    /**
     * @param factory FormFactoryInterface
     */
    public function __construct(FormFactoryInterface $factory, EntityManager $om)
    {
        $this->factory = $factory;
        $this->om = $om;
    }

    public static function getSubscribedEvents()
    {
        return array(
            FormEvents::PRE_BIND => 'preBind',
            FormEvents::PRE_SET_DATA => 'preSetData',
        );
    }

    /**
     * @param event FormEvent
     */
    public function preSetData(FormEvent $event)
    {
        $meetup = $event->getData()->getMeetup();

        // Before binding the form, the "meetup" will be null
        if (null === $meetup) {
            return;
        }

        $form = $event->getForm();
        $positions = $meetup->getSport()->getPositions();

        $this->customizeForm($form, $positions);
    }

    public function preBind(FormEvent $event)
    {
        $data = $event->getData();
        $id = $data['event'];
        $meetup = $this->om
            ->getRepository('AcmeDemoBundle:SportMeetup')
            ->find($id);

        if ($meetup === null) {
            $msg = 'The event %s could not be found for you registration';
            throw new \Exception(sprintf($msg, $id));
        }
        $form = $event->getForm();
        $positions = $meetup->getSport()->getPositions();

        $this->customizeForm($form, $positions);
    }

    protected function customizeForm($form, $positions)
    {
        // ... customize the form according to the positions
    }
}

You can see that you need to listen on these two events and have different callbacks only because in two different scenarios, the data that you can use is given in a different format. Other than that, this class always performs exactly the same things on a given form.

Now that you have that setup, register your form and the listener as services:

  • YAML
    # app/config/config.yml
    acme.form.sport_meetup:
        class: Acme\SportBundle\Form\Type\SportMeetupType
        arguments: [@acme.form.meetup_registration_listener]
        tags:
            - { name: form.type, alias: acme_meetup_registration }
    acme.form.meetup_registration_listener
        class: Acme\SportBundle\Form\EventListener\RegistrationSportListener
        arguments: [@form.factory, @doctrine]
  • XML
     1
     2
     3
     4
     5
     6
     7
     8
     9
    10
    11
    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <services>
        <service id="acme.form.sport_meetup" class="Acme\SportBundle\FormType\SportMeetupType">
            <argument type="service" id="acme.form.meetup_registration_listener" />
            <tag name="form.type" alias="acme_meetup_registration" />
        </service>
        <service id="acme.form.meetup_registration_listener" class="Acme\SportBundle\Form\EventListener\RegistrationSportListener">
            <argument type="service" id="form.factory" />
            <argument type="service" id="doctrine" />
        </service>
    </services>
    
  • PHP
     1
     2
     3
     4
     5
     6
     7
     8
     9
    10
    11
    12
    13
    14
    // app/config/config.php
    $definition = new Definition('Acme\SportBundle\Form\Type\SportMeetupType');
    $definition->addTag('form.type', array('alias' => 'acme_meetup_registration'));
    $container->setDefinition(
        'acme.form.meetup_registration_listener',
        $definition,
        array('security.context')
    );
    $definition = new Definition('Acme\SportBundle\Form\EventListener\RegistrationSportListener');
    $container->setDefinition(
        'acme.form.meetup_registration_listener',
        $definition,
        array('form.factory', 'doctrine')
    );
    

In this setup, the RegistrationSportListener will be a constructor argument to SportMeetupType. You can then register it as an event subscriber on your form:

 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
private $registrationSportListener;

public function __construct(RegistrationSportListener $registrationSportListener)
{
    $this->registrationSportListener = $registrationSportListener;
}

public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
{
    // ...
    $builder->addEventSubscriber($this->registrationSportListener);
}

And this should tie everything together. You can now retrieve your form from the controller, display it to a user, and validate it with the right choice options set for every possible kind of sport that our users are registering for.

One piece that may still be missing is the client-side updating of your form after the sport is selected. This should be handled by making an AJAX call back to your application. In that controller, you can bind your form, but instead of processing it, simply use the bound form to render the updated fields. The response from the AJAX call can then be used to update the view.