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Dynamic Roles and Canonical Fields

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Let's see what this all looks like in the database! To query the user table, we can actually use the console:

php bin/console doctrine:query:sql 'SELECT * FROM user'

Nice! We inherited a bunch of columns from the base User class, like username, email and enabled. It even tracks our last login. Thanks!

Canonical Fields!?

But there are two weird fields: username_canonical and email_canonical. What the heck? These are one of the more controversial things about FOSUserBundle. Before we explore them, first, just know that when you set username or email, the corresponding canonical field is automatically set for you. So, these canonical fields are not something you normally need to worry or think about.

So why do they exist? Suppose that when you registered, you used some capital letters in your username. The username column will be exactly as you typed it: with the capital letters. But username_canonical will be lowercased. Then, when you login, FOSUserBundle lowercases the submitted username and queries via the username_canonical column.

Why? Because some databases - like Postgresql - are case sensitive. The canonical fields allow a user to login with a case insensitive username - aquanaut in all lowercase, uppercase or any combination.

But mostly... this is just a detail you shouldn't think about. It's all handled for you and other than being ugly in the database, it doesn't hurt anything.

Logging in with Username or Email

And by the way, right now you can only login with your username. If you want to be able to login with username or email, no problem! The documentation has a section about this. Just change your user provider to fos_user.user_provider.username_email.

What does this do? When you submit your login form, the provider section is responsible for taking what you entered and finding the correct User record. Our current user provider finds the User by the username_canonical field. This other one looks up a User by username or email. And you're 100% free to create your own user provider, if you need to login with some other, weird logic. FOSUserBundle won't notice or care.

Dynamic Roles

Check out the database result again and look at roles. I know, it's strange: this is an array field. I'll hold command and click to open the base User class from FOSUserBundle. See, roles holds an array. When you save, it automatically serializes to a string in the database. This is done with the Doctrine array field type.

Notice that even though it's empty in the database, when we login, our user has ROLE_USER. This is thanks to the base User class from FOSUserBundle: it makes sure the User has whatever roles are stored in the database plus ROLE_USER.

Creating an Admin User

Let's try an example of a User that has a different role. Run the console:

php bin/console

Ah, so the bundle comes with a few handy console commands, for activating, creating, promoting and demoting users. Let's create a new one:

php bin/console fos:user:create

How about admin, and password admin.

And now promote it!

php bin/console fos:user:promote

Hmm, let's give admin, ROLE_ADMIN. Ok, try the query again:

php bin/console doctrine:query:sql 'SELECT * FROM user'

Booya! Our new user has ROLE_ADMIN! Quick, go login! Well, logout first, then go login! Use admin and admin. Woohoo! We have both ROLE_USER and ROLE_ADMIN.

In your app, if you want to give different roles to your users, you have 2 options. First, via the command line by using fos:user:promote. If you only have a few users that need special permissions, this is a great option. Or, you can create a user admin area and use the ChoiceType with the 'multiple' => true and 'expanded' => true to select the roles as checkboxes.

Ok, time to squash the ugly and make the FOSUserBundle pages use our layout!