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Getting to Know our Tiny Project


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Sprint back to your command center (aka terminal). This first tab is running the web server. If you need to stop it, press Ctrl-C... then restart it with:

symfony serve


You can use symfony serve -d to run the command in the "background" so that you can continue using this terminal tab.

We'll leave that alone and let it do its thing.

Our Project's 15 Files

Open a second terminal tab in the same directory. When we ran the symfony new command, it downloaded a tiny project and initialized a Git repository with an initial commit. That was super nice! To see our files, I'm going to open this directory in my favorite editor: PhpStorm. More on this editor in a few minutes.

Right now, I want you to notice just how small our project is! To see the full list of committed files, back at your terminal, run:

git ls-files

Yea, that's it. Only about 15 files committed to git!

Where's Symfony?

So then... where the heck is Symfony? One of our 15 files is especially important: composer.json.

72 lines | composer.json
// ... lines 2 - 5
"require": {
"php": ">=8.2",
"ext-ctype": "*",
"ext-iconv": "*",
"symfony/console": "7.0.*",
"symfony/dotenv": "7.0.*",
"symfony/flex": "^2",
"symfony/framework-bundle": "7.0.*",
"symfony/runtime": "7.0.*",
"symfony/yaml": "7.0.*"
// ... lines 17 - 70

Composer is the package manager for PHP. Its job is simple: read the package names under this require key and download them. When we ran the symfony new command, it downloaded these 15 files and also ran composer install. That downloaded all of these packages into the vendor/ directory.

So where is Symfony? It's in vendor/symfony/... and we're already using about 20 of its packages!

Running Composer

The vendor/ directory is not committed to git. It's ignored thanks to another file we started with: .gitignore.

11 lines | .gitignore
###> symfony/framework-bundle ###

This means that if a teammate clones our project, they will not have this directory. And that's okay! We can always repopulate it by running composer install.

Watch: I'll right-click and delete the entire vendor/ directory. Gasp!

If we try our app now, it's busted. Bad feels! To fix it & save the day, at your terminal, run:

composer install

And... presto! The directory is back.... and over here, the site works again.

The 2 Directories you Care About

Looking back at our files, there are only two directories that we even need to think about. The first is config/: this holds... configuration! We'll learn about what these files do along the way.

The second is src/. This is where all your PHP code will live.

And that's really it! 99% of the time you're either configuring something or writing PHP code. That happens in config/ & src/.

What about the other 4 directories? bin/ holds a single console executable file that we'll try out soon. But we're never going to look at or modify that file. The public/ directory is known as your document root. Anything you put here - like an image - will be publicly accessible. More about that stuff later. It also holds index.php.

10 lines | public/index.php
use App\Kernel;
require_once dirname(__DIR__).'/vendor/autoload_runtime.php';
return function (array $context) {
return new Kernel($context['APP_ENV'], (bool) $context['APP_DEBUG']);

This is known as your "front controller": it's the main PHP file that your web server executes at the start of every request. And while it is super important... you'll never edit or even think about this file.

Up next is var/. This is also ignored from git: it's where Symfony stores log files and cache files that it needs internally. So very important... but not something we need to think about. And we already talked about vendor/. That's everything!

Prepping PhpStorm

Now before we get coding, I mentioned that I use PhpStorm. You're free to use whatever editor you want. However, PhpStorm is incredible. And one big reason is the unmatched Symfony plugin. If you go to PhpStorm -> Settings and search for "Symfony", down here under Plugins and then Marketplace, you can find it. Download & install the plugin if you don't already have it. After installation, restart PhpStorm. Then there's one more step. Go back into settings and search for Symfony again. This time you'll have a Symfony section. Be sure to enable the plugin for each Symfony project you work on... otherwise you won't see all the same magic I have.

Ok! Let's start coding and build our first page in Symfony next.