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How to Deploy a Symfony Application

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How to Deploy a Symfony Application

Deploying a Symfony application can be a complex and varied task depending on the setup and the requirements of your application. This article is not a step- by-step guide, but is a general list of the most common requirements and ideas for deployment.

Symfony Deployment Basics

The typical steps taken while deploying a Symfony application include:

  1. Upload your code to the production server;
  2. Install your vendor dependencies (typically done via Composer and may be done before uploading);
  3. Running database migrations or similar tasks to update any changed data structures;
  4. Clearing (and optionally, warming up) your cache.

A deployment may also include other tasks, such as:

  • Tagging a particular version of your code as a release in your source control repository;
  • Creating a temporary staging area to build your updated setup "offline";
  • Running any tests available to ensure code and/or server stability;
  • Removal of any unnecessary files from the public/ directory to keep your production environment clean;
  • Clearing of external cache systems (like Memcached or Redis).

How to Deploy a Symfony Application

There are several ways you can deploy a Symfony application. Start with a few basic deployment strategies and build up from there.

Basic File Transfer

The most basic way of deploying an application is copying the files manually via FTP/SCP (or similar method). This has its disadvantages as you lack control over the system as the upgrade progresses. This method also requires you to take some manual steps after transferring the files (see Common Post-Deployment Tasks)

Using Source Control

If you're using source control (e.g. Git or SVN), you can simplify by having your live installation also be a copy of your repository. When you're ready to upgrade, fetch the latest updates from your source control system. When using Git, a common approach is to create a tag for each release and check out the appropriate tag on deployment (see Git Tagging).

This makes updating your files easier, but you still need to worry about manually taking other steps (see Common Post-Deployment Tasks).

Using Platforms as a Service

Using a Platform as a Service (PaaS) can be a great way to deploy your Symfony app quickly. There are many PaaS - below are a few that work well with Symfony:

Using Build Scripts and other Tools

There are also tools to help ease the pain of deployment. Some of them have been specifically tailored to the requirements of Symfony.

A Symfony bundle that adds deploy tools to your application.
This is another native PHP rewrite of Capistrano, with some ready recipes for Symfony.
An Ansible role that allows you to configure a powerful deploy via YAML files.
This Capistrano-like deployment tool is built in PHP, and may be easier for PHP developers to extend for their needs.
This Python-based library provides a basic suite of operations for executing local or remote shell commands and uploading/downloading files.
Capistrano with Symfony plugin
Capistrano is a remote server automation and deployment tool written in Ruby. Symfony plugin is a plugin to ease Symfony related tasks, inspired by Capifony (which works only with Capistrano 2).
Helps you build a native Debian package for your Symfony project.
Basic scripting
You can use a shell script, Ant or any other build tool to script the deploying of your project.

Common Post-Deployment Tasks

After deploying your actual source code, there are a number of common things you'll need to do:

A) Check Requirements

Use the Symfony Requirements Checker to check if your server meets the technical requirements to run Symfony applications.

B) Configure your Environment Variables

Most Symfony applications read their configuration from environment variables. While developing locally, you'll usually store these in .env and .env.local (for local overrides). On production, you have two options:

  1. Create "real" environment variables. How you set environment variables, depends on your setup: they can be set at the command line, in your Nginx configuration, or via other methods provided by your hosting service.
  2. Or, create a .env.local file just like your local development (see note below)

There is no significant advantage to either of the two options: use whatever is most natural in your hosting environment.


If you use the .env.* files on production, you may need to move your symfony/dotenv dependency from require-dev to require in composer.json:

$ composer require symfony/dotenv

C) Install/Update your Vendors

Your vendors can be updated before transferring your source code (i.e. update the vendor/ directory, then transfer that with your source code) or afterwards on the server. Either way, update your vendors as you normally do:

$ composer install --no-dev --optimize-autoloader


The --optimize-autoloader flag improves Composer's autoloader performance significantly by building a "class map". The --no-dev flag ensures that development packages are not installed in the production environment.


If you get a "class not found" error during this step, you may need to run export APP_ENV=prod (or export SYMFONY_ENV=prod if you're not using Symfony Flex) before running this command so that the post-install-cmd scripts run in the prod environment.

D) Clear your Symfony Cache

Make sure you clear and warm-up your Symfony cache:

$ APP_ENV=prod APP_DEBUG=0 php bin/console cache:clear

E) Other Things!

There may be lots of other things that you need to do, depending on your setup:

Application Lifecycle: Continuous Integration, QA, etc.

While this article covers the technical details of deploying, the full lifecycle of taking code from development up to production may have more steps: deploying to staging, QA (Quality Assurance), running tests, etc.

The use of staging, testing, QA, continuous integration, database migrations and the capability to roll back in case of failure are all strongly advised. There are simple and more complex tools and one can make the deployment as easy (or sophisticated) as your environment requires.

Don't forget that deploying your application also involves updating any dependency (typically via Composer), migrating your database, clearing your cache and other potential things like pushing assets to a CDN (see Common Post-Deployment Tasks).


Deployments not Using the composer.json File

The project root directory (whose value is used via the kernel.project_dir parameter and the getProjectDir() method) is calculated automatically by Symfony as the directory where the main composer.json file is stored.

In deployments not using the composer.json file, you'll need to override the getProjectDir() method as explained in this section.

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