Symfony 4: A new way to Develop Applications

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Highly customized and feature-rich application development is vital to empower your business to rise ahead of the competitors. With a wide variety of ways of customization, Symfony remains the ideal choice for businesses who desire it be faster! Being one of the widely used PHP frameworks, Symfony has made an optimized and robust avatar with Symfony 4. This latest version of Symfony was released on December 30, 2017, making the application development easier, flexible and even more powerful. 

Symfony 4 enables a new way to develop applications; hence, it is the right time to upgrade to Symfony 4 from your earlier versions. You must be questioning why you should upgrade to Symfony 4 when your web application is running fine on the previous versions. Here, we will sum up what changed from Symfony 3, what new features are and why Symfony 4 is taking the application development world forward once again. 

Symfony – A Brief Overview

In 2005, Fabien Potencier developed Symfony, the most robust PHP framework from SensioLabs. The high-level components present in this framework make it a more reliable & agile frame. Symfony is constructed under the MVC architecture model and is based on the object-oriented programming patterns and concepts. Most PHP development companies prefer this framework because of the attractive features it includes, which enables you to create almost any type of project.

Enterprises who hire PHP developers are constantly giving priority to candidates who have knowledge of this framework. Every major PHP application available in the market employs this framework. For example, CRM and PIM applications like Akeneo employs Symfony libraries. Prestashop and Magento from the eCommerce ecosystem also use Symfony. To meet the increasing demand in this digital world, Symfony evolves every two years with improved versions and here is the road map of Symfony version upgrades:

Symfony 4

Internally, Symfony 4 and its subversions are just Symfony 3.4 but with removing deprecations. Most changes were made to enhance the developer experience with Symfony. Installation process and directory structure for coding through Symfony 4 bundles are some notable changes. Using Symfony to create web applications to develop other frameworks on top of it is complicated in previous versions. However, Symfony 4 and its subversions have hidden this complexity from the eyes of developers. Let us dive into the features that make Symfony 4 the best framework for developing web applications:

  • Symfony 4 Bundles 

Bundles in Symfony are similar to plugins, but functions even better. It allows you to organize your functionality more effectively. Symfony 4 comes with several core bundles including a community bundle. They include one entry point class and custom folder structure for views, controllers, public files, config & tests. Symfony 4 bundles can be overridden and it is simple to change their behavior. In particular, Symfony 4 replaces SensioGeneratorBundlewith MakerBundle. The MakerBundle enables the fastest way to create controllers, empty command, tests, form classes and more without writing extensive code. 

  • File Structure

Symfony 4 made some incremental adjustments with file structure and introduced new & enhanced file structure, which covers innovative features and best practices. Though the file structure eliminated some folders and added new folders, it remains with folders like src, bin, and var. Here is the new directory structure leveraged in Symfony 4:

Symfony 4

The improvements in the structuring enable you to create a folder on demand; hence, if you don’t use component liable for the certain folder, the folder wouldn’t be created. The enhanced file structure ensures fast application development and easy maintenance. 

  • Reusable components

Symfony 4 is applauded as one of the richest frameworks due to its reusable components. These components enable developers to save more time in application development. The components serve as the repository of common features, which takes off almost all groundwork in app development and ensures easy implementation. As such, developers can spend their time more effectively on developing as well as expanding business-specific functionalities. 

  • Automation with Symfony Flex

Along with reusable components, Symfony Flex also contributes to reducing application development time. Symfony Flex, a composer plugin is integrated with Symfony 4, which handles all Symfony applications and Symfony 4 bundles. With Symfony Flex, you can automate everything, which required manual configuration in previous versions. Enabling bundles and declaring paths are some common tedious tasks in application development that can be automated. Automation in these areas results in faster development with Symfony 4, without requiring making the initial configuration of bundles and components manually. 

  • Autowiring of services

The automated service of Symfony not only restricted with bundles and component configurations, but it also extends in defining service dependencies. In earlier versions of Symfony, you had to configure services manually to understand which one to take for dependency injection. With autowiring features, Symfony 4 automatically detects what services to employ based on their type-hint and ids. This feature enables you to handle services in the container with fewer configurations. Based on the type-hints on the constructor, it automatically passes the right services to each method. Autowiring is more predictable – in case it is not clear about which service dependency should be used, you will get an actionable exception. 

  • Easier installation of Extensions

In Symfony, a new bundle installation has been a tedious task. Most application developers complained about the monotonous and slow practice of extension installation. Though this process is uncomplicated for those who are expert in Symfony, it can be frightening for the beginners. However, with Symfony 4, you can have a mechanism called Recipes to get access to the install and manage the framework extensions. The recipes are JSON files that come with a prescribed format for extension installation. 

  • Messenger Component

Executing tasks asynchronously is vital for any large application, and the messenger component is something that brings asynchronous features and tasks to Symfony 4. It enables a new way of organizing your business logic and application structure. The messenger enables applications to send as well as receive messages to & from other applications or through message queues. 

  • Micro Framework

With Symfony 4, you can create your apps based on the micro-kernel as such it includes 70 % less code & files than Symfony 3 or previous versions’ apps. It is a highly optimized framework and free of non-essential dependencies. Therefore, Symfony 4 is the leanest version across all PHP frameworks. It also supports scalability; you can start your app small and grow as your project scales. 

  • Smooth Upgrade

With all these new features and optimizations, Symfony becomes an ideal framework for all kinds of project, including APIs, microservices, console applications, monolithic web applications or backends for JavaScript apps. Symfony 4 comes with an array of new features; hence, it is worth to upgrade to the latest versions of PHP. When it comes to upgrading your existing apps to the latest version, Symfony 4 offers a smooth experience thanks to its unequaled backward compatibility promise. If you are struggling with Symfony 2 or its previous versions, first migrate to Symfony 3.4 that offers total compatibility with other 3.x versions. Then, you can be instantly upgraded to Symfony 4.

Overall, Symfony 4 is an optimized and lighter version without all outdated and unwanted plugins/features. Sensio exposed it as a micro framework; hence, it allows developers to enable only what they require. It enhances the performance of the application and ensures scalability for different project sizes. Now, nothing holds you back, start using Symfony 4 to build your small API or a big application.