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How to Impersonate a User

2.5 version
Unmaintained

How to Impersonate a User

Sometimes, it's useful to be able to switch from one user to another without having to log out and log in again (for instance when you are debugging or trying to understand a bug a user sees that you can't reproduce). This can be easily done by activating the switch_user firewall listener:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            main:
                # ...
                switch_user: true
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <srv:container xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/security"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xmlns:srv="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services
            http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services/services-1.0.xsd">
        <config>
            <firewall>
                <!-- ... -->
                <switch-user />
            </firewall>
        </config>
    </srv:container>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'main'=> array(
                // ...
                'switch_user' => true
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

To switch to another user, just add a query string with the _switch_user parameter and the username as the value to the current URL:

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http://example.com/somewhere?_switch_user=thomas

To switch back to the original user, use the special _exit username:

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http://example.com/somewhere?_switch_user=_exit

During impersonation, the user is provided with a special role called ROLE_PREVIOUS_ADMIN. In a template, for instance, this role can be used to show a link to exit impersonation:

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    {% if is_granted('ROLE_PREVIOUS_ADMIN') %}
        <a href="{{ path('homepage', {'_switch_user': '_exit'}) }}">Exit impersonation</a>
    {% endif %}
    
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    <?php if ($view['security']->isGranted('ROLE_PREVIOUS_ADMIN')): ?>
        <a
            href="<?php echo $view['router']->generate('homepage', array(
                '_switch_user' => '_exit',
            ) ?>"
        >
            Exit impersonation
        </a>
    <?php endif ?>
    

Of course, this feature needs to be made available to a small group of users. By default, access is restricted to users having the ROLE_ALLOWED_TO_SWITCH role. The name of this role can be modified via the role setting. For extra security, you can also change the query parameter name via the parameter setting:

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    # app/config/security.yml
    security:
        firewalls:
            main:
                # ...
                switch_user: { role: ROLE_ADMIN, parameter: _want_to_be_this_user }
    
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    <!-- app/config/security.xml -->
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <srv:container xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/security"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xmlns:srv="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services
            http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services/services-1.0.xsd">
        <config>
            <firewall>
                <!-- ... -->
                <switch-user role="ROLE_ADMIN" parameter="_want_to_be_this_user" />
            </firewall>
        </config>
    </srv:container>
    
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    // app/config/security.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('security', array(
        'firewalls' => array(
            'main'=> array(
                // ...
                'switch_user' => array(
                    'role' => 'ROLE_ADMIN',
                    'parameter' => '_want_to_be_this_user',
                ),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.