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Project Setup

In symfony, applications sharing the same data model are regrouped into projects. For most projects, you will have two different applications: a frontend and a backend.

Project Creation

From the sfproject/ directory, run the symfony generate:project task to actually create the symfony project:

$ php lib/vendor/symfony/data/bin/symfony generate:project PROJECT_NAME

On Windows:

c:\> php lib\vendor\symfony\data\bin\symfony generate:project PROJECT_NAME

The generate:project task generates the default structure of directories and files needed for a symfony project:

Directory Description
apps/ Hosts all project applications
cache/ The files cached by the framework
config/ The project configuration files
data/ Data files like initial fixtures
lib/ The project libraries and classes
log/ The framework log files
plugins/ The installed plugins
test/ The unit and functional test files
web/ The web root directory (see below)


Why does symfony generate so many files? One of the main benefits of using a full-stack framework is to standardize your developments. Thanks to symfony's default structure of files and directories, any developer with some symfony knowledge can take over the maintenance of any symfony project. In a matter of minutes, he will be able to dive into the code, fix bugs, and add new features.

The generate:project task has also created a symfony shortcut in the project root directory to shorten the number of characters you have to write when running a task.

So, from now on, instead of using the fully qualified path to the symfony program, you can use the symfony shortcut.

Installation Verification

Now that symfony is installed, check that everything is working by using the symfony command line to display the symfony version (note the capital V):

$ cd ../..
$ php lib/vendor/symfony/data/bin/symfony -V

On Windows:

c:\> cd ..\..
c:\> php lib\vendor\symfony\data\bin\symfony -V

The -V option also displays the path to the symfony installation directory, which is stored in config/ProjectConfiguration.class.php.

If the path to symfony is an absolute one (which should not be by default if you follow the above instructions), change it so it reads like follows for better portability:

// config/ProjectConfiguration.class.php
require_once dirname(__FILE__).'/../lib/vendor/symfony/lib/autoload/sfCoreAutoload.class.php';

That way, you can move the project directory anywhere on your machine or another one, and it will just work.


If you are curious about what this command line tool can do for you, type symfony to list the available options and tasks:

$ php lib/vendor/symfony/data/bin/symfony

On Windows:

c:\> php lib\vendor\symfony\data\bin\symfony

The symfony command line is the developer's best friend. It provides a lot of utilities that improve your productivity for day-to-day activities like cleaning the cache, generating code, and much more.

Configuring the Database

The symfony framework supports all PDO-supported databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Oracle, MSSQL, ...) out of the box. On top of PDO, symfony comes bundled with two ORM tools: Propel and Doctrine.

When creating a new project, Doctrine is enabled by default. Configuring the database used by Doctrine is as simple as using the configure:database task:

$ php symfony configure:database "mysql:host=localhost;dbname=dbname" root mYsEcret

The configure:database task takes three arguments: the PDO DSN, the username, and the password to access the database. If you don't need a password to access your database on the development server, just omit the third argument.


If you want to use Propel instead of Doctrine, add --orm=Propel when creating the project with the generate:project task. And if you don't want to use an ORM, just pass --orm=none.

Application Creation

Now, create the frontend application by running the generate:app task:

$ php symfony generate:app frontend


Because the symfony shortcut file is executable, Unix users can replace all occurrences of 'php symfony' by './symfony' from now on.

On Windows you can copy the 'symfony.bat' file to your project and use 'symfony' instead of 'php symfony':

c:\> copy lib\vendor\symfony\data\bin\symfony.bat .

Based on the application name given as an argument, the generate:app task creates the default directory structure needed for the application under the apps/frontend/ directory:

Directory Description
config/ The application configuration files
lib/ The application libraries and classes
modules/ The application code (MVC)
templates/ The global template files



By default, the generate:app task has secured our application from the two most widespread vulnerabilities found on the web. That's right, symfony automatically takes security measures on our behalf.

To prevent XSS attacks, output escaping has been enabled; and to prevent CSRF attacks, a random CSRF secret has been generated.

Of course, you can tweak these settings thanks to the following options:

  • --escaping-strategy: Enables or disables output escaping
  • --csrf-secret: Enables session tokens in forms

If you know nothing about XSS or CSRF, take the time to learn more these security vulnerabilities.

Directory Structure Rights

Before trying to access your newly created project, you need to set the write permissions on the cache/ and log/ directories to the appropriate levels, so that your web server can write to them:

$ chmod 777 cache/ log/


Tips for People using a SCM Tool

symfony only ever writes in two directories of a symfony project, cache/ and log/. The content of these directories should be ignored by your SCM (by editing the svn:ignore property if you use Subversion for instance).