Step 25: Notifying by all Means

5.0 version
Maintained

Notifying by all Means

The Guestbook application gathers feedback about the conferences. But we are not great at giving feedback to our users.

As comments are moderated, they probably don’t understand why their comments are not published instantly. They might even re-submit them thinking there was some technical problems. Giving them feedback after posting a comment would be great.

Also, we should probably ping them when their comment has been published. We ask for their email, so we’d better use it.

There are many ways to notify users. Email is the first medium that you might think about, but notifications in the web application is another one. We could even think about sending SMS messages, posting a message on Slack or Telegram. There are many options.

The Symfony Notifier Component implements many notification strategies:

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$ symfony composer req notifier

Sending Web Application Notifications in the Browser

As a first step, let’s notify the users that comments are moderated directly in the browser after their submission:

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--- a/src/Controller/ConferenceController.php
+++ b/src/Controller/ConferenceController.php
@@ -14,6 +14,8 @@ use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\File\Exception\FileException;
 use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;
 use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;
 use Symfony\Component\Messenger\MessageBusInterface;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\Notification;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\NotifierInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Routing\Annotation\Route;
 use Symfony\Component\Workflow\Registry;
 use Twig\Environment;
@@ -60,7 +62,7 @@ class ConferenceController extends AbstractController
     /**
      * @Route("/conference/{slug}", name="conference")
      */
-    public function show(Request $request, Conference $conference, CommentRepository $commentRepository, string $photoDir)
+    public function show(Request $request, Conference $conference, CommentRepository $commentRepository, NotifierInterface $notifier, string $photoDir)
     {
         $comment = new Comment();
         $form = $this->createForm(CommentFormType::class, $comment);
@@ -90,9 +92,15 @@ class ConferenceController extends AbstractController

             $this->bus->dispatch(new CommentMessage($comment->getId(), $context));

+            $notifier->send(new Notification('Thank you for the feedback; your comment will be posted after moderation.', ['browser']));
+
             return $this->redirectToRoute('conference', ['slug' => $conference->getSlug()]);
         }

+        if ($form->isSubmitted()) {
+            $notifier->send(new Notification('Can you check your submission? There are some problems with it.', ['browser']));
+        }
+
         $offset = max(0, $request->query->getInt('offset', 0));
         $paginator = $commentRepository->getCommentPaginator($conference, $offset);

The notifier sends a notification to recipients via a channel.

A notification has a subject, an optional content, and an importance.

A notification is sent on one or many channels depending on its importance. You can send urgent notifications by SMS and regular ones by email for instance.

For browser notifications, we don’t have recipients.

The browser notification uses flash messages via the notification section. We need to display them by updating the conference template:

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--- a/templates/conference/show.html.twig
+++ b/templates/conference/show.html.twig
@@ -3,6 +3,13 @@
 {% block title %}Conference Guestbook - {{ conference }}{% endblock %}

 {% block body %}
+    {% for message in app.flashes('notification') %}
+        <div class="alert alert-info alert-dismissible fade show">
+            {{ message }}
+            <button type="button" class="close" data-dismiss="alert" aria-label="Close"><span aria-hidden="true">&times;</span></button>
+        </div>
+    {% endfor %}
+
     <h2 class="mb-5">
         {{ conference }} Conference
     </h2>

The users will now be notified that their submission is moderated:

As an added bonus, we have a nice notification at the top of the website if there is a form error:

Tip

Flash messages use the HTTP session system as a storage medium. The main consequence is that the HTTP cache is disabled as the session system must be started to check for messages.

This is the reason why we have added the flash messages snippet in the show.html.twig template and not in the base one as we would have lost HTTP cache for the homepage.

Notifying Admins by Email

Instead of sending an email via MailerInterface to notify the admin that a comment has just been posted, switch to use the Notifier component in the message handler:

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--- a/src/MessageHandler/CommentMessageHandler.php
+++ b/src/MessageHandler/CommentMessageHandler.php
@@ -4,14 +4,14 @@ namespace App\MessageHandler;

 use App\ImageOptimizer;
 use App\Message\CommentMessage;
+use App\Notification\CommentReviewNotification;
 use App\Repository\CommentRepository;
 use App\SpamChecker;
 use Doctrine\ORM\EntityManagerInterface;
 use Psr\Log\LoggerInterface;
-use Symfony\Bridge\Twig\Mime\NotificationEmail;
-use Symfony\Component\Mailer\MailerInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Messenger\Handler\MessageHandlerInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Messenger\MessageBusInterface;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\NotifierInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Workflow\WorkflowInterface;

 class CommentMessageHandler implements MessageHandlerInterface
@@ -21,22 +21,20 @@ class CommentMessageHandler implements MessageHandlerInterface
     private $commentRepository;
     private $bus;
     private $workflow;
-    private $mailer;
+    private $notifier;
     private $imageOptimizer;
-    private $adminEmail;
     private $photoDir;
     private $logger;

-    public function __construct(EntityManagerInterface $entityManager, SpamChecker $spamChecker, CommentRepository $commentRepository, MessageBusInterface $bus, WorkflowInterface $commentStateMachine, MailerInterface $mailer, ImageOptimizer $imageOptimizer, string $adminEmail, string $photoDir, LoggerInterface $logger = null)
+    public function __construct(EntityManagerInterface $entityManager, SpamChecker $spamChecker, CommentRepository $commentRepository, MessageBusInterface $bus, WorkflowInterface $commentStateMachine, NotifierInterface $notifier, ImageOptimizer $imageOptimizer, string $photoDir, LoggerInterface $logger = null)
     {
         $this->entityManager = $entityManager;
         $this->spamChecker = $spamChecker;
         $this->commentRepository = $commentRepository;
         $this->bus = $bus;
         $this->workflow = $commentStateMachine;
-        $this->mailer = $mailer;
+        $this->notifier = $notifier;
         $this->imageOptimizer = $imageOptimizer;
-        $this->adminEmail = $adminEmail;
         $this->photoDir = $photoDir;
         $this->logger = $logger;
     }
@@ -62,13 +60,7 @@ class CommentMessageHandler implements MessageHandlerInterface

             $this->bus->dispatch($message);
         } elseif ($this->workflow->can($comment, 'publish') || $this->workflow->can($comment, 'publish_ham')) {
-            $this->mailer->send((new NotificationEmail())
-                ->subject('New comment posted')
-                ->htmlTemplate('emails/comment_notification.html.twig')
-                ->from($this->adminEmail)
-                ->to($this->adminEmail)
-                ->context(['comment' => $comment])
-            );
+            $this->notifier->send(new CommentReviewNotification($comment), ...$this->notifier->getAdminRecipients());
         } elseif ($this->workflow->can($comment, 'optimize')) {
             if ($comment->getPhotoFilename()) {
                 $this->imageOptimizer->resize($this->photoDir.'/'.$comment->getPhotoFilename());

The getAdminRecipients() method returns the admin recipients as configured in the notifier configuration; update it now to add your own email address:

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--- a/config/packages/notifier.yaml
+++ b/config/packages/notifier.yaml
@@ -13,4 +13,4 @@ framework:
             medium: ['email']
             low: ['email']
         admin_recipients:
-            - { email: [email protected] }
+            - { email: "%env(string:default:default_admin_email:ADMIN_EMAIL)%" }

Now, create the CommentReviewNotification class:

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namespace App\Notification;

use App\Entity\Comment;
use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Message\EmailMessage;
use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\EmailNotificationInterface;
use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\Notification;
use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Recipient\Recipient;

class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificationInterface
{
    private $comment;

    public function __construct(Comment $comment)
    {
        $this->comment = $comment;

        parent::__construct('New comment posted');
    }

    public function asEmailMessage(Recipient $recipient, string $transport = null): ?EmailMessage
    {
        $message = EmailMessage::fromNotification($this, $recipient, $transport);
        $message->getMessage()
            ->htmlTemplate('emails/comment_notification.html.twig')
            ->context(['comment' => $this->comment])
        ;

        return $message;
    }
}

The asEmailMessage() method from EmailNotificationInterface is optional, but it allows to customize the email.

One benefit of using the Notifier instead of the mailer directly to send emails is that it decouples the notification from the “channel” used for it. As you can see, nothing explicitly says that the notification should be sent by email.

Instead, the channel is configured in config/packages/notifier.yaml depending on the importance of the notification (low by default):

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framework:
notifier:
    channel_policy:
        # use chat/slack, chat/telegram, sms/twilio or sms/nexmo
        urgent: ['email']
        high: ['email']
        medium: ['email']
        low: ['email']

We have talked about the browser and the email channels. Let’s see some fancier ones.

Chatting with Admins

Let’s be honest, we all wait for positive feedback. Or at least constructive feedback. If someone posts a comment with words like “great” or “awesome”, we might want to accept them faster than the others.

For such messages, we want to be alerted on an instant messaging system like Slack or Telegram in addition to the regular email.

Install Slack support for Symfony Notifier:

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$ symfony composer req slack-notifier

To get started, compose the Slack DSN with a Slack access token and the Slack channel identifier where you want to send messages: slack://ACCESS_TOKEN@default?channel=CHANNEL.

As the access token is sensitive, store the Slack DSN in the secret store:

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$ symfony console secrets:set SLACK_DSN

Do the same for production:

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$ APP_ENV=prod symfony console secrets:set SLACK_DSN

Enable the chatter Slack support:

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--- a/config/packages/notifier.yaml
+++ b/config/packages/notifier.yaml
@@ -1,7 +1,7 @@
 framework:
     notifier:
-        #chatter_transports:
-        #    slack: '%env(SLACK_DSN)%'
+        chatter_transports:
+            slack: '%env(SLACK_DSN)%'
         #    telegram: '%env(TELEGRAM_DSN)%'
         #texter_transports:
         #    twilio: '%env(TWILIO_DSN)%'

Update the Notification class to route messages depending on the comment text content (a simple regex will do the job):

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--- a/src/Notification/CommentReviewNotification.php
+++ b/src/Notification/CommentReviewNotification.php
@@ -27,4 +27,15 @@ class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificationInterface
             ->context(['comment' => $this->comment])
         );
     }
+
+    public function getChannels(Recipient $recipient): array
+    {
+        if (preg_match('{\b(great|awesome)\b}i', $this->comment->getText())) {
+            return ['email', 'chat/slack'];
+        }
+
+        $this->importance(Notification::IMPORTANCE_LOW);
+
+        return ['email'];
+    }
 }

We have also changed the importance of “regular” comments as it slightly tweaks the design of the email.

And done! Submit a comment with “awesome” in the text, you should receive a message on Slack.

As for email, you can implement ChatNotificationInterface to override the default rendering of the Slack message:

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--- a/src/Notification/CommentReviewNotification.php
+++ b/src/Notification/CommentReviewNotification.php
@@ -3,12 +3,17 @@
 namespace App\Notification;

 use App\Entity\Comment;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\Block\SlackDividerBlock;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\Block\SlackSectionBlock;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\SlackOptions;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Message\ChatMessage;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Message\EmailMessage;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\ChatNotificationInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\EmailNotificationInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\Notification;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Recipient\Recipient;

-class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificationInterface
+class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificationInterface, ChatNotificationInterface
 {
     private $comment;

@@ -30,6 +35,28 @@ class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificatio
         return $message;
     }

+    public function asChatMessage(Recipient $recipient, string $transport = null): ?ChatMessage
+    {
+        if ('slack' !== $transport) {
+            return null;
+        }
+
+        $message = ChatMessage::fromNotification($this, $recipient, $transport);
+        $message->subject($this->getSubject());
+        $message->options((new SlackOptions())
+            ->iconEmoji('tada')
+            ->iconUrl('https://guestbook.example.com')
+            ->username('Guestbook')
+            ->block((new SlackSectionBlock())->text($this->getSubject()))
+            ->block(new SlackDividerBlock())
+            ->block((new SlackSectionBlock())
+                ->text(sprintf('%s (%s) says: %s', $this->comment->getAuthor(), $this->comment->getEmail(), $this->comment->getText()))
+            )
+        );
+
+        return $message;
+    }
+
     public function getChannels(Recipient $recipient): array
     {
         if (preg_match('{\b(great|awesome)\b}i', $this->comment->getText())) {

It is better, but let’s go one step further. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to accept or reject a comment directly from Slack?

Change the notification to accept the review URL and add two buttons in the Slack message:

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--- a/src/Notification/CommentReviewNotification.php
+++ b/src/Notification/CommentReviewNotification.php
@@ -3,6 +3,7 @@
 namespace App\Notification;

 use App\Entity\Comment;
+use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\Block\SlackActionsBlock;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\Block\SlackDividerBlock;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\Block\SlackSectionBlock;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Bridge\Slack\SlackOptions;
@@ -16,10 +17,12 @@ use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Recipient\Recipient;
 class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificationInterface, ChatNotificationInterface
 {
     private $comment;
+    private $reviewUrl;

-    public function __construct(Comment $comment)
+    public function __construct(Comment $comment, string $reviewUrl)
     {
         $this->comment = $comment;
+        $this->reviewUrl = $reviewUrl;

         parent::__construct('New comment posted');
     }
@@ -52,6 +55,10 @@ class CommentReviewNotification extends Notification implements EmailNotificatio
             ->block((new SlackSectionBlock())
                 ->text(sprintf('%s (%s) says: %s', $this->comment->getAuthor(), $this->comment->getEmail(), $this->comment->getText()))
             )
+            ->block((new SlackActionsBlock())
+                ->button('Accept', $this->reviewUrl, 'primary')
+                ->button('Reject', $this->reviewUrl.'?reject=1', 'danger')
+            )
         );

     return $message;

It is now a matter of tracking changes backward. First, update the message handler to pass the review URL:

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--- a/src/MessageHandler/CommentMessageHandler.php
+++ b/src/MessageHandler/CommentMessageHandler.php
@@ -60,7 +60,8 @@ class CommentMessageHandler implements MessageHandlerInterface

             $this->bus->dispatch($message);
         } elseif ($this->workflow->can($comment, 'publish') || $this->workflow->can($comment, 'publish_ham')) {
-            $this->notifier->send(new CommentReviewNotification($comment), ...$this->notifier->getAdminRecipients());
+            $notification = new CommentReviewNotification($comment, $message->getReviewUrl());
+            $this->notifier->send($notification, ...$this->notifier->getAdminRecipients());
         } elseif ($this->workflow->can($comment, 'optimize')) {
             if ($comment->getPhotoFilename()) {
                 $this->imageOptimizer->resize($this->photoDir.'/'.$comment->getPhotoFilename());

As you can see, the review URL should be part of the comment message, let’s add it now:

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--- a/src/Message/CommentMessage.php
+++ b/src/Message/CommentMessage.php
@@ -5,14 +5,21 @@ namespace App\Message;
 class CommentMessage
 {
     private $id;
+    private $reviewUrl;
     private $context;

-    public function __construct(int $id, array $context = [])
+    public function __construct(int $id, string $reviewUrl, array $context = [])
     {
         $this->id = $id;
+        $this->reviewUrl = $reviewUrl;
         $this->context = $context;
     }

+    public function getReviewUrl(): string
+    {
+        return $this->reviewUrl;
+    }
+
     public function getId(): int
     {
         return $this->id;

Finally, update the controllers to generate the review URL and pass it in the comment message constructor:

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--- a/src/Controller/AdminController.php
+++ b/src/Controller/AdminController.php
@@ -12,6 +12,7 @@ use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;
 use Symfony\Component\HttpKernel\KernelInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Messenger\MessageBusInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Routing\Annotation\Route;
+use Symfony\Component\Routing\Generator\UrlGeneratorInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Workflow\Registry;
 use Twig\Environment;

@@ -51,7 +52,8 @@ class AdminController extends AbstractController
         $this->entityManager->flush();

         if ($accepted) {
-            $this->bus->dispatch(new CommentMessage($comment->getId()));
+            $reviewUrl = $this->generateUrl('review_comment', ['id' => $comment->getId()], UrlGeneratorInterface::ABSOLUTE_URL);
+            $this->bus->dispatch(new CommentMessage($comment->getId(), $reviewUrl));
         }

         return $this->render('admin/review.html.twig', [
--- a/src/Controller/ConferenceController.php
+++ b/src/Controller/ConferenceController.php
@@ -17,6 +17,7 @@ use Symfony\Component\Messenger\MessageBusInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\Notification\Notification;
 use Symfony\Component\Notifier\NotifierInterface;
 use Symfony\Component\Routing\Annotation\Route;
+use Symfony\Component\Routing\Generator\UrlGeneratorInterface;
 use Twig\Environment;

 class ConferenceController extends AbstractController
@@ -89,7 +90,8 @@ class ConferenceController extends AbstractController
                 'permalink' => $request->getUri(),
             ];

-            $this->bus->dispatch(new CommentMessage($comment->getId(), $context));
+            $reviewUrl = $this->generateUrl('review_comment', ['id' => $comment->getId()], UrlGeneratorInterface::ABSOLUTE_URL);
+            $this->bus->dispatch(new CommentMessage($comment->getId(), $reviewUrl, $context));

             $notifier->send(new Notification('Thank you for the feedback; your comment will be posted after moderation.', ['browser']));

Code decoupling means changes in more places, but it makes it easier to test, reason about, and reuse.

Try again, the message should be in good shape now:

../_images/slack-message.png

Going Asynchronous across the Board

Let me explain a slight issue that we should fix. For each comment, we receive an email and a Slack message. If the Slack message errors (wrong channel id, wrong token, …), the messenger message will be retried three times before being discarded. But as the email is sent first, we will receive 3 emails and no Slack messages. One way to fix it is to send Slack messages asynchronously like emails:

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--- a/config/packages/messenger.yaml
+++ b/config/packages/messenger.yaml
@@ -20,3 +20,5 @@ framework:
             # Route your messages to the transports
             App\Message\CommentMessage: async
             Symfony\Component\Mailer\Messenger\SendEmailMessage: async
+            Symfony\Component\Notifier\Message\ChatMessage: async
+            Symfony\Component\Notifier\Message\SmsMessage: async

As soon as everything is asynchronous, messages become independent. We have also enabled asynchronous SMS messages in case you also want to be notified on your phone.

Notifying Users by Email

The last task is to notify users when their submission is approved. What about letting you implement that yourself?


This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.