You again? Get outta here.... punk... is what we will be saying soon to API clients in this tutorial that don't have valid credentials! Yep, welcome back guys, this time to a tutorial that's making security exciting again! Seriously, I'm pumped to talk about authentication in an API... and in particular, a really powerful tool called JSON web tokens.

To make sure your JSON web tokens are the envy of all your friends, code along with me by downloading the code from any of the tutorial pages. Then, just unzip it and move into the start/ directory. I already have that start code in symfony-rest.

I also upgraded our project to Symfony 3! Woohoo! Almost everything we'll do will work for Symfony 2 or 3, but there are a few differences in the directory structure. We have a tutorial on upgrading to Symfony 3 if you want to see those.

Let's start the built-in web server with:

bin/console server:run

And if you just downloaded the code, open the README and follow a few other steps there.

The (sad) State of our App's Security

Ok, our app is Code Battles! It has a cool web interface and you can login with weaverryan and password foo: super secure! Here, we can create programmers and start battles. And our API already supports a lot of this stuff.

Open up ProgrammerController inside the Controller/Api directory:

... lines 1 - 18
class ProgrammerController extends BaseController
... lines 21 - 24
public function newAction(Request $request)
... lines 26 - 54
public function showAction($nickname)
... lines 56 - 76
public function listAction(Request $request)
... lines 78 - 95
public function updateAction($nickname, Request $request)
... lines 97 - 128
public function deleteAction($nickname)
... lines 130 - 189

Awesome! We can already create, fetch and update programmers. AND, we've got a pretty sweet test:

... lines 1 - 6
class ProgrammerControllerTest extends ApiTestCase
... lines 9 - 15
public function testPOST()
... lines 17 - 36
public function testGETProgrammer()
... lines 38 - 59
public function testGETProgrammerDeep()
... lines 61 - 73
public function testGETProgrammersCollection()
... lines 75 - 91
public function testGETProgrammersCollectionPagination()
... lines 93 - 142
public function testPUTProgrammer()
... lines 144 - 164
public function testPATCHProgrammer()
... lines 166 - 183
public function testDELETEProgrammer()
... lines 185 - 246

um, suite... that checks these endpoints.

Ready for the problem? Our API has no security! The horror! Anonymous users are able to create programmers and then change the avatar on other programmers. It's chaos!

On the web interface, you need to be logged in to do any of these things. Let's make the API work the same way.

Testing for Security

As always: we need to start by writing a test. In ProgrammerControllerTest, add a new public function testRequiresAuthentication():

... lines 1 - 6
class ProgrammerControllerTest extends ApiTestCase
... lines 9 - 247
public function testRequiresAuthentication()
... lines 250 - 253

Let's make an API request to an endpoint that should be secured and then assert some things. Start with $response = $this->client->post('/api/programmers'). Send this a valid JSON body:

... lines 1 - 6
class ProgrammerControllerTest extends ApiTestCase
... lines 9 - 247
public function testRequiresAuthentication()
$response = $this->client->post('/api/programmers', [
'body' => '[]'
... line 253

Ok, if our API client tries to anonymously access a secured endpoint, what should be returned? Well, at the very least, assert that the response status code is 401, meaning "Unauthorized":

... lines 1 - 249
$response = $this->client->post('/api/programmers', [
'body' => '[]'
$this->assertEquals(401, $response->getStatusCode());
... lines 254 - 256

Ok! Let's go make sure this fails! Copy the method name and find the terminal. Run:

./vendor/bin/phpunit --filter testRequiresAuthentication

It fails with a validation error: it is getting beyond the security layer and executing our controller. Time to lock that down!

Securing a Controller

Open ProgrammerController. How can we require the API client to be authenticated? The exact same way you do in a web application. Add $this->denyAccessUnlessGranted('ROLE_USER'):

... lines 1 - 18
class ProgrammerController extends BaseController
... lines 21 - 24
public function newAction(Request $request)
... lines 28 - 50
... lines 52 - 191

That's it. I'm using ROLE_USER because all of my users have this role - you could also use IS_AUTHENTICATED_FULLY.

Ok, back to the test! Run it!

./vendor/bin/phpunit --filter testRequiresAuthentication

Oh, interesting - it's a 200 status code instead of 401. Look closely: it redirected us to the login page. So, it's kind of working... you can't add programmers anonymously anymore. But clearly, we've got some work to do.

Leave a comment!

  • 2018-07-09 Diego Aguiar

    Hey Amy

    Sorry for the confusion and thanks for sharing your findings :)
    We will discuss about your suggestion because we really want to avoid this kind of problems to others


  • 2018-07-09 Amy

    Yay! I figured it out. The tests moved since the last tutorial. The are in /tests now, not the ones in /src/AppBundle/Tests . I strongly suspect the people below had the same issue. Maybe you all should remove the copy from the old location?

  • 2018-07-09 Amy

    I have downloaded the course code and done the setup on PHP 7.1 (It doesn't work on 7.2) . I'm running into a weird issue. When I try to run the tests with the filter, it says so tests executed. If I run tests without the filter, it says everything passed, but I'm not confident that it's actually running the tests in ProgrammerTestController because I've put in die statements or actual parsing errors, and the tests pass without a filter. I've made no modifications to the code other than to put in the very first test, which should fail.

    I'm stumped on this one. Any thoughts?

  • 2018-07-02 Shaun

    Thanks for such a detailed explanation weaverryan , this has made the subject loads clearer for me, I really appreciate it!

  • 2018-07-02 weaverryan

    Hey Shaun!

    Architecture! Woo! :)

    The answer to your question is.... sort of? But kinda no.... ;). Let me explain. There are 3 types of applications:

    1) 100% traditional HTML web apps: the user's browser sends a request to /app & gets back HTML. There is NO AJAX, every page is a full refresh This is 0% API

    2) 100% single-page application. In this model, there is literally 1 HTML file that the user gets when they access "/", and this is probably mostly an empty page with a div on it and some JavaScript. Then, 100% of all other requests are AJAX/API requests, which are used to build everything for your application.

    3) A mixture :). And this is still the most common (though single-page apps, SPAs, are becoming more and more common). This site is a good example of a "mixed" app. When your browser makes a request to "/", you get a traditional HTML page, and there is no AJAX. But, if you go to, for example, a challenge page (, this returns HTML... but the original HTML is actually mostly empty. We then make several AJAX requests in order to build the page. Whenever you change a file in the editor, more AJAX/API requests are made.

    So yes, there is ALWAYS at least *one* HTML response. But, once that HTML responses is received, you could build a JavaScript app that makes many API requests. Or, (and I think this really gets to your question) if you really only need to print some data on your page, you can just use the data to print all of the HMTL you need and return it. In that case, there is no need to make any API request: your page is fully loaded and ready to go. Heck, even if you DO want to get some JSON data in order to use with JavaScript, you can (if you want) avoid an AJAX request by making that data available inside your HTML - e.g., or simply by setting your data to a global variable, like:

    // this will print as a JavaScript object, which you can then read from JavaScript
    window.SOME_GLOBAL_DATA = {{ someDataArray|json|raw }};
    <script src="{{ asset('path/to/some.js') }}"></script>

    I hope that helps!

  • 2018-07-01 Shaun

    Architecture question!

    In a traditional Symfony web app a user would click on a link, a request is sent to the server, and then the server sends back the html for the browser to display.

    With a REST application it seems there needs to be (at least) 2 end points for any page that has data from a database. Here is my flow.

    1. User sends request i.e. /app
    2. Server sends back HTLML for page
    3. Data is required so a javascript file calls an end point to retrieve this i.e. /app/api/posts
    4. Javasctipt receives JSON and adds the data to the page.

    Have i got this right or am i missing something?

    Loving this course BTW!

  • 2018-06-01 Diego Aguiar

    Hey Uns Rhandour

    How are you submitting the parameters to the API endpoint? In the video Ryan uses HTTP Basic Authentication. If you are sending them through the form body then you have to retrieve them from the Request in a different way.

    // in some Controller's action

    $data = json_decode($request->getContent(), true);
    // $data['form_field_name'] should be set

    That should do the trick. Cheers!

  • 2018-05-30 Uns Rhandour

    I'm using your application as API, and I built a react application as front-end.
    the issue is I am sending the credential to the API via JWT, but when I check the request object to look for the credential, I get null ($request->getUser()).

  • 2018-05-14 Diego Aguiar

    Hey Andrés Mardones
    That's weird. Can you double check the following:
    - Your test class extends PHPunit base class
    - Your test class ends with the word "Test" (SomeClassTest.php)
    - Test methods starts with the word "test" (testSomeMethod)


  • 2018-05-12 Andrés Mardones

    Got the same error! Running only ./vendor/bin/phpunit also says no tests executed.

  • 2018-01-16 Diego Aguiar

    Hey Howard Ng

    Can you execute any other test?
    This may sound silly but, could you double check that you actually have a test method called "testTokenControllerTest"

    If that's not the case, let us know!

  • 2018-01-14 Howard Ng

    No matter how I try edit file in /start or try /finish version. Both return:
    Anything I should do to set it up correctly?

    ./vendor/bin/phpunit --filter testTokenControllerTest
    PHPUnit 4.6.10 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.

    Configuration read from /var/www/symfony-rest4/finish/phpunit.xml.dist

    Time: 138 ms, Memory: 4.00Mb

    No tests executed!

  • 2017-05-30 Diego Aguiar

    Hey Karolos!

    Sorry for the late response, we apologize for any inconvenience you might have had

    The content type is "text/html" because you are been redirected to the login page after hitting "api/programmers" endpoint (because you don't have access to it, yet), that behaviour is a symfony's default when it detects an "AccessDeniedException" exception, and that's exactly what the method "denyAccessUnlessGranted" throws when the User doesn't own the specified ROLE

    The weird thing is why it says Not Found, instead of Login (below line HTML Summary (h1 and h2):), if you remove the security check in ProgrammerController::newAction() and hit again that endpoint, do you get the same response ?


  • 2017-05-30 karolos

    6 days ago paid engough

  • 2017-05-24 karolos

    Hi im trying to run the app but the test are not running .

    $ ./vendor/bin/phpunit --filter testRequiresAuthentication
    PHPUnit 4.6.10 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.


    Failure! when making the following request:
    POST: /api/programmers


    Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

    HTML Summary (h1 and h2):
    Not Found

    I dont understand why the response is always a tex/html I didnt changed anything I just downloaded the code and followed the instructions!

  • 2016-11-02 Victor Bocharsky

    Hey Ruslan,

    Actually, yes, the application uses another DB in test environment - you can see it in app/config/config_test.yml file.

    It depends, in most cases you will be enough to create a DB and create its schema, i.e. run "bin/console doctrine:database:create --env=test" and "bin/console doctrine:schema:create --env=test" commands at the first time, then you can just do "bin/console doctrine:schema:update --force --env=test" after any Doctrine mapping changes. But if your tests depend of some fixtures data - then you also need to load data fixtures too for test environment using the same "--env=test" option.


  • 2016-11-01 Ruslan

    I'm trying to run unit test on the end, but get an error:

    Caused by PDOException: SQLSTATE[HY000] [1049] Unknown database 'knp_api_token_test'

    My database name is knp_api_token, and it works correctly (I can log in with user credentials).

    However, if I create another database and call it 'knp_api_token_test' the above error disappears.

    So is it true, that for unit tests we use apart database which is a full clone of the dev database?

  • 2016-06-24 Mihail

    Thanks Ryan for advice! Just removing the type-hint 'Exeption' in onNotSuccessfulTest helped to work with this code! With ResponseAsserter methods also evth is ok, I just noticed the comment "this will blow up if the property doesn't exist" so if no problem the tests pass, but assertion of this type is just not added to the total number of the assertions in console info when tests were run, I just thought it didn't work, but they worked as expected on 'wrong' data. Thanks again, this weekend I am going to explore the fifth chapter :)

  • 2016-06-21 weaverryan

    Hey Mihail!

    Hmm - what problems are you having with each method?

    I *do* know that in more recent version of PHPUnit, that the argument to onNotSuccessfulTest changed (in newer versions, the type-hint was removed). You'll get a pretty clear error about the argument type mis-match in this case, which you can easily fix by removing the type-hint on the argument. But if there's a different issue, I haven't hit it yet. I haven't had any issues with assertResponsePropertiesExists/s() yet - and I *have* run this on Sf 3.0 and Guzzle 6.* (But not on PHP7).

    If there is a problem and we can solve it, we can commit the fix to the code download for others :).


  • 2016-06-20 Mihail

    Hi Ryan,

    After the complete rewriting of the project with SF3.1, Guzzle6.2, PHPUnit5.4, ResponseAsserter::assertResponsePropertiesExist/s() methods stopped working as expected as well as ApiTestCase::onNotSuccessfulTest with other debugging methods. For the latter, probably smth connected to PHP7 problem, but for the first it just passes without even considering it as an assertion.

    Could you advise on the way how to fix it?

  • 2016-06-10 weaverryan

    Haha, well done :)

  • 2016-06-10 Chuck Norris

    Hi Ryan,

    yes I upgraded to latest version and started upgrading following guzzle recommendations but I got stuck in how to handle history.
    So thanks to you, now I can get a closer look at what you did.

    P.S. No, unfortunately, I'm just usurping his identity, "cos you know, the real Chuck don't ask for help :)
    I just hope he never find out.

  • 2016-06-09 weaverryan

    Hey Chuck!

    Did you also upgrade Guzzle to the latest version (6)? I did for this tutorial (as you probably already know). And upgrading Guzzle actually took some work - specifically in ApiTestCase - several things changed. So, here's a copy of the ApiTestCase after the Guzzle upgrade: - I hope it's helpful :).


    P.S. Is your name really Chuck Norris? That would be awesome :)

  • 2016-06-09 Chuck Norris

    Hello KnpTeam,

    I'm trying to update the project to Symfony3 (and I don't have access to current project download, so I cant see how you do it) but I cant see how to import some guzzle class (ResponseInterface, BeforeEvent, ...).
    I've installed guzzle/guzzle bundle using the symfony3 requirements (
    But theses classes seems missing.

    Can you help?