How to Create and Store a Symfony Project in Subversion

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How to Create and Store a Symfony Project in Subversion


This article is specifically about Subversion, and based on principles found in How to Create and Store a Symfony Project in Git.

Once you've read through Create your First Page in Symfony and become familiar with using Symfony, you'll no-doubt be ready to start your own project. The preferred method to manage Symfony projects is using Git but some prefer to use Subversion which is totally fine!. In this article, you'll learn how to manage your project using SVN in a similar manner you would do with Git.


This is a method to tracking your Symfony project in a Subversion repository. There are several ways to do and this one is one that works.

The Subversion Repository

For this article it's assumed that your repository layout follows the widespread standard structure:



Most Subversion hosting should follow this standard practice. This is the recommended layout in Version Control with Subversion and the layout used by most free hosting (see How to Create and Store a Symfony Project in Subversion).

Initial Project Setup

To get started, you'll need to download Symfony and get the basic Subversion setup. First, download and get your Symfony project running by following the Installation article.

Once you have your new project directory and things are working, follow along with these steps:

  1. Checkout the Subversion repository that will host this project. Suppose it is hosted on Google code and called myproject:

    $ svn checkout myproject
  2. Copy the Symfony project files in the Subversion folder:

    $ mv Symfony/* myproject/
  3. Now, set the ignore rules. Not everything should be stored in your Subversion repository. Some files (like the cache) are generated and others (like the database configuration) are meant to be customized on each machine. This makes use of the svn:ignore property, so that specific files can be ignored.

    $ cd myproject/
    $ svn add --depth=empty app var var/cache var/logs app/config web
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "vendor" .
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "bootstrap*" var/
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "parameters.yml" app/config/
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "*" var/cache/
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "*" var/logs/
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "*" var/sessions/
    $ svn propset svn:ignore "bundles" web
    $ svn ci -m "commit basic Symfony ignore list (vendor, var/bootstrap*, app/config/parameters.yml, var/cache/*, var/logs/*, web/bundles)"
  4. The rest of the files can now be added and committed to the project:

    $ svn add --force .
    $ svn ci -m "add basic Symfony Standard 3.X.Y"

That's it! Since the app/config/parameters.yml file is ignored, you can store machine-specific settings like database passwords here without committing them. The parameters.yml.dist file is committed, but is not read by Symfony. And by adding any new keys you need to both files, new developers can quickly clone the project, copy this file to parameters.yml, customize it, and start developing.

At this point, you have a fully-functional Symfony project stored in your Subversion repository. The development can start with commits in the Subversion repository.

You can continue to follow along with the Create your First Page in Symfony article to learn more about how to configure and develop inside your application.


The Symfony Standard Edition comes with some example functionality. To remove the sample code, follow the instructions in the "How to Remove a Bundle" article.

Managing Vendor Libraries with composer.json

How Does it Work?

Every Symfony project uses a group of third-party "vendor" libraries. One way or another the goal is to download these files into your vendor/ directory and, ideally, to give you some sane way to manage the exact version you need for each.

By default, these libraries are downloaded by running a composer install "downloader" binary. This composer file is from a library called Composer and you can read more about installing it in the Installation article.

The composer command reads from the composer.json file at the root of your project. This is an JSON-formatted file, which holds a list of each of the external packages you need, the version to be downloaded and more. composer also reads from a composer.lock file, which allows you to pin each library to an exact version. In fact, if a composer.lock file exists, the versions inside will override those in composer.json. To upgrade your libraries to new versions, run composer update.


If you want to add a new package to your application, run the composer require command:

$ composer require doctrine/doctrine-fixtures-bundle

To learn more about Composer, see

It's important to realize that these vendor libraries are not actually part of your repository. Instead, they're simply untracked files that are downloaded into the vendor/. But since all the information needed to download these files is saved in composer.json and composer.lock (which are stored in the repository), any other developer can use the project, run composer install, and download the exact same set of vendor libraries. This means that you're controlling exactly what each vendor library looks like, without needing to actually commit them to your repository.

So, whenever a developer uses your project, they should run the composer install script to ensure that all of the needed vendor libraries are downloaded.

Since Symfony is just a group of third-party libraries and third-party libraries are entirely controlled through composer.json and composer.lock, upgrading Symfony means simply upgrading each of these files to match their state in the latest Symfony Standard Edition.

If you've added new entries to composer.json, be sure to replace only the original parts (i.e. be sure not to also delete any of your custom entries).

Subversion Hosting Solutions

The biggest difference between Git and SVN is that Subversion needs a central repository to work. You then have several solutions:

  • Self hosting: create your own repository and access it either through the filesystem or the network. To help in this task you can read Version Control with Subversion.
  • Third party hosting: there are a lot of serious free hosting solutions available like GitHub, Google code, SourceForge or Gna. Some of them offer Git hosting as well.
This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.