Twig ❤️

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Let's make our show() controller render some real HTML by using a template. As soon as you want to render a template, you need to make your controller extend AbstractController. Don't forget to let PhpStorm auto-complete this so it adds the use statement.

Now, obviously, a controller doesn't need to extend this base class - Symfony doesn't really care about that. But, you usually will extend AbstractController for one simple reason: it gives us shortcut methods!

... lines 1 - 4
use Symfony\Bundle\FrameworkBundle\Controller\AbstractController;
... lines 6 - 8
class QuestionController extends AbstractController
{
... lines 11 - 27
}

Rendering a Template

The first useful shortcut method is render. We can say: return this->render() and pass two arguments. The first is the filename of the template: we can put anything here, but usually - because we value our sanity - we name this after our controller: question/show.html.twig.

The second argument is an array of any variables that we want to pass into the template. Eventually, we're going to query the database for a specific question and pass that data into the template. Right now, let's fake it. I'll copy my ucwords() line and delete the old code. Let's pass a variable into the template called - how about, question - set to this string.

... lines 1 - 8
class QuestionController extends AbstractController
{
... lines 11 - 21
public function show($slug)
{
return $this->render('question/show.html.twig', [
'question' => ucwords(str_replace('-', ' ', $slug))
]);
}
}

Pop quiz time! What do you think that render() method returns? A string? Something else? The answer is: a Response object... with HTML inside. Because remember: the one rule of a controller is that it must always return a Response.

Tip

A controller can actually return something other than a Response, but don't worry about that right now... or maybe ever.

Creating the Template

Anyways, let's go create that template! Inside templates/, create a question sub-directory, then a new file called show.html.twig. Let's start simple: an <h1> and then {{ question }} to render the question variable. And... I'll put some extra markup below this.

<h1>{{ question }}</h1>
<div>
Eventually, we'll print the full question here!
</div>

The 3 Syntaxes of Twig!

We just wrote our first Twig code! Twig is super friendly: it's a plain HTML file until your write one of its two syntaxes.

The first is the "say something" syntax. Anytime you want to print something, use {{, the thing you want to print, then }}. Inside the curly braces, you're writing Twig code... which is a lot like JavaScript. This prints the question variable. If we put quotes around it, it would print the string question. And yea, you can do more complex stuff - like the ternary operator. Again, it's very much like JavaScript.

The second syntax I call the "do something" syntax. It's {% followed by whatever you need to do, like if or for to do a loop. We'll talk more about this in a second.

And... that's it! You're either printing something with {{ or doing something, like an if statement, with {%.

Ok, small lie, there is a third syntax... but it's just comments: {#, a comment... then #}.

<h1>{{ question }}</h1>
{# oh, I'm just a comment hiding here #}
<div>
Eventually, we'll print the full question here!
</div>

Let's see if this works! Move over refresh and... got it! If you view the HTML source, notice that there is no HTML layout yet. It's literally the markup from our template and nothing else. We'll add a layout in a few minutes.

Looping with the {% for Tag

Ok: we have a fake question. I think it deserves some fake answers! Back in the controller, up in the show() action, I'm going to paste in three fake answers.

... lines 1 - 8
class QuestionController extends AbstractController
{
... lines 11 - 21
public function show($slug)
{
$answers = [
'Make sure your cat is sitting purrrfectly still 🤣',
'Honestly, I like furry shoes better than MY cat',
'Maybe... try saying the spell backwards?',
];
... lines 29 - 33
}
}

Again, once we talked about databases, we will query the database for these. But this will work beautifully to start. Pass these into the template as a second variable called answers.

... lines 1 - 8
class QuestionController extends AbstractController
{
... lines 11 - 21
public function show($slug)
{
$answers = [
'Make sure your cat is sitting purrrfectly still 🤣',
'Honestly, I like furry shoes better than MY cat',
'Maybe... try saying the spell backwards?',
];
return $this->render('question/show.html.twig', [
'question' => ucwords(str_replace('-', ' ', $slug)),
'answers' => $answers,
]);
}
}

Back in the template, how can we print those? We can't just say {{ answers }}... because it's an array. What we really want to do is loop over that array and print each individual answer. To do that, we get to use our first "do something" tag! It looks like this: {% for answer in answers %}. And most "do something" tags also have an end tag: {% endfor %}.

Let's surround this with a ul and, inside the loop, say <li> and {{ answer }}.

... lines 1 - 8
<h2>Answers</h2>
<ul>
{% for answer in answers %}
<li>{{ answer }}</li>
{% endfor %}
</ul>
... lines 16 - 17

I love that! Ok browser, reload! It works! I mean, it's so, so, ugly... but we'll fix that soon.

The Twig Reference: Tags, Filters, Functions

Head to https://twig.symfony.com. Twig is its own library with its own documentation. There's a lot of good stuff here... but what I really love is down here: the Twig Reference.

See these "Tags" on the left? These are all of the "do something" tags that exist. Yep, it will always be {% and then one of these words - like for, if or {% set. If you try {% pizza, I'll think it's funny, but Twig will yell at you.

Twig also has functions... like every language... and a cool feature called "tests", which is a bit unique. These allow you to say things like: if foo is defined or if number is even.

But the biggest and coolest section is for "filters". Filters are basically functions... but more hipster. Check out the length filter. Filters work like "pipes" on the command line: we "pipe" the users variable into the length filter, which counts it. The value goes from left to right. Filters are really functions... with a friendlier syntax.

Let's use this filter to print out the number of answers. I'll add some parenthesis, then {{ answers|length }}. When we try that... super nice!

... lines 1 - 7
<h2>Answers {{ answers|length }}</h2>
... lines 11 - 17

Twig Template Inheritance: extends

At this point, you're well on your way to being a Twig pro. There's just one last big feature we need to talk about, and it's a good one: template inheritance.

Most of our pages will share an HTML layout. Right now, we don't have any HTML structure. To give it some, at the top of the template, add {% extends 'base.html.twig' %}.

{% extends 'base.html.twig' %}
<h1>{{ question }}</h1>
... lines 4 - 19

This tells Twig that we want to use this base.html.twig template as our layout. This file is super basic right now, but it's ours to customize - and we will soon.

But if you refresh the page... hide! Huge error!

A template that extends another one cannot include content outside Twig blocks.

When you add extends to a template, you're saying that you want the content from this template to go inside of base.html.twig. But... where? Should Twig put it all the way on top? On the bottom? Somewhere in the middle? Twig doesn't know!

I'm sure you already noticed these block things, like stylesheets, title and body. Blocks are "holes" that a child template can put content into. We can't just extend base.html.twig: we need to tell it which block the content should go into. The body block is a perfect spot.

How do we do this? By overriding the block. Above the content add {% block body %}, and after, {% endblock %}.

{% extends 'base.html.twig' %}
{% block body %}
... lines 4 - 18
{% endblock %}
... lines 20 - 21

Try it now. It works! It doesn't look like much yet... because our base layout is so simple, but if you check out the page source, we do have the basic HTML structure.

Adding, Removing, Changing Blocks?

By the way, these blocks in base.html.twig aren't special: you can rename them, move them around, add more or remove some. The more blocks you add, the more flexibility your "child" templates have to put content into different spots.

Most of the existing blocks are empty... but a block can define default content... like the title block. See this Welcome? No surprise, that's the current title of the page.

Because this is surrounded by a block, we can override that in any template. Check it out: anywhere in show.html.twig, add {% block title %}, Question, print the question, then {% endblock %}.

{% extends 'base.html.twig' %}
{% block title %}Question: {{ question }}{% endblock %}
{% block body %}
... lines 6 - 20
{% endblock %}
... lines 22 - 23

This time when we reload... we have a new title!

Ok, with Twig behind us, let's look at one of the killer features of Symfony... and your new best friend for debugging: the Symfony profiler.

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