lemonbytes

husband, dad, steelers fan and software engineer


Work on LemonRestBundle continues, last night I merged in support for PATCH. This is an interesting beast because there are some strong opinions on the proper way to implement PATCH in a REST API. Initially I assumed I would just avoid it rather than subject myself to the judgment of poor implementation. However, the more I researched PATCH the more I realized that I wanted to add it, and furthermore the strong opinions were largely academic in nature. The JSON Patch specification is rather powerful but also complex, I've yet to find a consuming client that actually supports this standard. What I see a lot of is more akin to the JSON Merge Patch specification, and this is exactly what I've decided to add. Truthfully the bulk of the work in my implementation happens in JMS Serializer. I need to do more extensive testing on object nesting but the basic implementation works right now. One issue to keep in mind is the current setup requires you to specify the object id when in the PATCH request. I hope to fix this in the future, but for now that's the requirement.

I've also recently added the ability to customize the Criteria object for searches.  The Criteria object is basically a collection of the query parameters and it gets used by the ObjectManager to add filtering to the findBy() command used for making collections of a given resource. Out of a set of query parameters the default implementation separates out some data for limit, offset, order by and order direction and then provides those in a standard way to the ObjectManager. The limiting factor in the initial implementation is that you might not have liked the fields I was using for limit, offset, etc. Customizing the Criteria object gives you full control over how this is handled. You can read more about how to configure this in the bundle's documentation.

I've been experimenting with generating Swagger docs within my bundle. I would expect this to materialize in the next week or so.  The technical details are already available to generate the docs, it's the descriptive data that isn't there yet and I'm still evaluating the best way to make that possible. Ultimately I'd love to have the bundle help it's users generate documentation for their APIs, eliminating yet one more detail in the management of a REST API.

Last but not least there I think it's safe to expect support for versioning, again this will largely be driven off of JMS Serializer's version exclusion groups.

Work on the bundle continues to move forward. Several folks have made contributions, all of which I am really grateful for! If you have a suggestion, recommendation or spotted a bug of any sort please open an issue over on GitHub.



tl;dr You can try out LemonRestBundle with ng-admin here.

Last week I shared that I was working on a Symfony 2 bundle that would create REST end points from Doctrine entities. I've been continuing to work on that bundle, adding features and flexibility and I decided to re-evaluate the way I was demoing it. The truth is that I didn't want to sink a lot of time into writing a demo, but I also want to do a show more functionality than just pulling down some objects from and dumping them to a page. What I want is to show the full REST life cycle, getting, searching and saving objects to an api. Fortunately there's a really great tool out there that plugs into a REST api and does just that! It’s called ng-admin and it’s from the folks over at Marmelab.

For those that aren't familiar with ng-admin, it's a tool written using Angular and it allows you to easily wire up a "stock" UI for a REST API. Like my own project, it's opinionated and convention oriented. Quite honestly it's a pretty cool tool. So I’ve hooked it up to a symfony standard application with the LemonRestBundle and configured some entities to match Marmelab’s own demo. I also pulled the sample data down that Marmelab was using and stuck it in a sqlite database. The database resets every minute, but it’s enough time to create a post and edit some comments and see LemonRestBundle in action. The really cool part is when you take a look at the demo app’s GitHub repository and realize it took three Entity classes to make the whole thing happen.

I’ve deployed the demo over at OpenShift so you can take a look and try it out for yourself. You can also clone the demo app from GitHub, run composer.phar install and try it yourself!

Links to check out:



For a little while now I’ve been working on a bundle for Symfony to easily create REST apis for Doctrine entities. My goal was to be able to create a REST api with nothing more than a Doctrine entity and it’s metadata, including custom metadata from bundles like JMS Serializer. I wanted to invest very little time in the actual api part, and get to writing applications that used it. I’ve hit this wall before, and inevitably what happens is I make a valiant effort at rolling a REST api and then get distracted or bored and walk away leaving the project to rot.

Recently I was resurrecting an older project and wanting to do right by it and decided I could mask a lot of my database worts by leveraging some of Doctrine’s more advanced features. Specifically I added custom types to ensure I had good data structures, leveraged some lifecycle events and implemented Doctrine 2.5’s recent addition of Embeddables. I had also added a bunch of validation to my entities using Symfony’s Validation component, so they were well defined and could be validated easily with meaningful responses when things weren't right. I wound up with a clean set of objects that did what I wanted well, but there was one problem, I needed an api! Having been down this road before I wanted to solve my problem for the last time, or at the very least make the problem more interesting to solve.

Recently I have been playing with Knp’s JSON Schema bundle and this was in part my inspiration to make something that was magical. I don’t mean magical in the buzz word sense (okay, maybe I do). I mean magical in the highly opinionated, convention driven sort of way. My solution needed to just work(tm). The pieces were all there, and as I mentioned earlier the bulk of the tooling already existed, specifically great serialization, easy validation, reliable content negotiation and of course the graph traversal of Doctrine itself.  I just needed to get it all hooked into the request/response process of an api. Thus begot my very own REST bundle for Symfony 2.

Now hold up, I know what you’re thinking... Symfony already has a REALLY good REST bundle from Friends of Symfony, doesn’t it? This is very true! That is an excellent bundle, it’s high powered and very flexible. Mine is not. In fact it’s not even intended to be. If you want HATEOAS for example, FOSRestBundle is the right option for you. If you need to customize the POST/PUT processes or alter extensively the behavior of your GET actions, then FOSRestBundle is going to be a far better option for you. If you want to use Propel or Mongo (though that may come in the future for mine) or any other data source besides Doctrine ORM than FOSRestBundle is the better option for you. If you are using Doctrine ORM and want to write as little code as possible while getting some REST endpoints, than my bundle might be the better option for you.

Enough chatter, take a look at the fixtures included in my bundle and you’ll see some very simple examples of what sort of metadata driven modeling I had in mind for this project. I have a pretty extensive functional test that shows how the bundle works. I’ve also built a simple example application using this bundle that you can take a look at and see the bundle working. Well without further delay, I'm really happy to share with you LemonRestBundle, documentation included! Feedback is very welcome, feel free to drop me an email or shoot me a message on twitter.



Symfony 2.5 was released on June 1. I've been following blogs and listening to podcasts about the release and there are a lot of really awesome additions in this release. But there is one feature in particular that I don't believe is getting enough attention and deserves some.

Back in April I wrote about my frustration with Symfony & Absolute Paths. I was excited to see in May that this concern found itself into an official GitHub issue and PR and that it might get resolved in a future release of Symfony.  Well it has, and burried under the notes for 2.5 RC1 is this, "bug #10894 [HttpKernel] removed absolute paths from the generated container (fabpot)".

Quite frankly, this is huge!  After my post in April I hacked together what I was calling a PathlessKernel to work around this issue.  I basically regex'ed out the application root from the container. In my opinion this was an inelegant solution and thus I chose not to share it. The fix in #10894 is far superior and allows for the regenerating of cache in a CI environment before deployment without all of the path chaos previously created when dumping the container.

This is a big win for Symfony as it makes an application build artifact truly portable!



Extending Symnfony by Sébastien Armand is a tutorial-style introduction to a variety of the ways that you can extend a Symfony 2 full stack installation. I’m a big fan of Symfony 2 and I’ve done a fair amount of app building with it, so I was interested in Armand’s book and seeing what new things I could discover about hooking into sf2.

The book is filled with code samples, far more than you’ll find in most other technical books. Most of these code samples are also complete, which anyone who has traversed the official Symfony 2 cookbooks will greatly appreciate. Unfortunately, these code samples sometimes cross pages in inconvenient ways, and none of them include syntax highlighting which can make it hard to read at times.

Armand tackles six (sort of eight) areas of Symfony 2 development where developers can tap in and extend existing functionality of Symfony 2. First and foremost he kicks off his tutorials with covering service definitions and listeners. These topics seem like they could have been separate chapters to me, but nonetheless he does a good job of giving real world examples of how to tie these things in. He especially does well with event listeners - the secret weapon of the Symfony 2 stack (in my opinion anyhow).

Armand’s approach to extending symfony is project-based, meaning that through the book you’re working on building an app that handles some details for meet ups between users. You can think of it like the old Symfony 1 Askeet tutorial. This is a huge advantage of Armand’s book over other Symfony 2 texts you’ll find in the wild. Actual applications create context and drive home the concepts. As an added bonus, in this book you are NOT building yet another task manager!

The Security chapter covers some of the more difficult areas of Symfony 2. Anyone who has dealt with Security in sf2 knows that, while extremely powerful, it can also be extremely challenging. Armand’s examples are helpful, especially as he tackles an OAuth implementation. Armand uses the Friends of Symfony UserBundle to get going, but unfortunately didn’t cover with too much depth getting started with this super handy bundle. The examples in the book are priceless, but I look forward to future revisions that cover the new SimpleAuth implementation in Symfony 2. The only other thing I wished Armand would have covered was securing an api with tokens and a custom user provider for doing this. He shows how a cookie can be used with an event listener, but truthfully there are better ways of tackling this problem in Symfony 2 that are more consistent with its security model.

One of the most valuable chapters in this book is the Doctrine chapter. Doctrine 2’s official documentation lacks a lot of context. By being a project-based tutorial, Armand actually shows you how to write a custom data type, custom DQL function, and a custom filter, rather than stumble through the Doctrine 2 docs and hope you got close. This chapter in and of itself is a valuable resource for those times when you need to do these things.

The final chapter discusses bundles briefly. This is one area of the book I felt could have been fleshed out a bit more. Armand covers the basics, but part of me felt like this chapter almost belonged at the beginning of the book instead of the tail end. The other thing that was missing from this chapter was bundle inheritance which, while a tricky subject, is a huge part of extending a Symfony 2 application.

All in all I think this is a solid book on tapping into some of the more powerful features of Symfony 2 and it’s counterpart Doctrine 2. The book is at times a little oddly organized, but the code samples and tip are worthy any web developers time. If you’re looking to dive into some of the things in the book’s table of contents get yourself a copy and profit from Armand’s tutorials and extensive code samples.