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Fixtures: Dummy Data Rocks

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It's so much more fun to develop when your database has real, interesting data. We do have a way to add some fake genuses into the database, but they're not very interesting. And when we need more dummy data - like users and genus notes - it's just not going to work well.

Nope - we can do better. I'm dreaming of a system where we can quickly re-populate our local database with a really rich set of fake data, or fixtures.

Search for DoctrineFixturesBundle. This bundle is step 1 towards my dream. Copy the composer require line and paste that into the terminal. But hold on! I also want to download something else: nelmio/alice. That's just a normal PHP library, not a bundle. And it's going to make our fixtures amazing:


If you are on Symfony 3.2 or higher, you don't have to specify the DoctrineFixturesBundle version constraint

composer require --dev doctrine/doctrine-fixtures-bundle:2.3.0 nelmio/alice:2.1.4


Be sure to install version 2 of Alice, as version 3 has many changes: $ composer require --dev nelmio/alice:2.1.4

Conditionally Load Dev Libraries

Oh, and the --dev flag isn't too important. It means that these lines will be added to the require-dev section of composer.json:

68 lines | composer.json
// ... lines 2 - 31
"require-dev": {
// ... lines 33 - 34
"nelmio/alice": "^2.1",
"doctrine/doctrine-fixtures-bundle": "^2.3"
// ... lines 38 - 66

And that's meant for libraries that are only needed for development or to run tests.

When you deploy - if you care enough - you can tell composer to not download the libraries in this section. But frankly, I don't bother.

While Composer is communicating with the mothership, copy the new bundle line and add it to AppKernel. But put it in the section that's inside of the dev if statement:

57 lines | app/AppKernel.php
// ... lines 1 - 5
class AppKernel extends Kernel
public function registerBundles()
// ... lines 10 - 25
if (in_array($this->getEnvironment(), array('dev', 'test'), true)) {
// ... lines 27 - 30
$bundles[] = new Doctrine\Bundle\FixturesBundle\DoctrineFixturesBundle();
// ... lines 33 - 34
// ... lines 36 - 55

This makes the bundle - and any services, commands, etc that it gives us - not available in the prod environment. That's fine for us - this is a development tool - and it keeps the prod environment a little smaller.

Creating the Fixture Class

Anyways, this bundle gives us a new console command - doctrine:fixtures:load. When we run that, it'll look for "fixture classes" and run them. And in those classes, we'll create dummy data.

Copy the example fixture class. In AppBundle, add a DataFixtures/ORM directory. Then, add a new PHP class called - well, it doesn't matter - how about LoadFixtures. Paste the example class we so aggressively stole from the docs and update its class name to be LoadFixtures:

// ... lines 1 - 2
namespace AppBundle\DataFixtures\ORM;
// ... lines 4 - 5
use Doctrine\Common\DataFixtures\FixtureInterface;
use Doctrine\Common\Persistence\ObjectManager;
class LoadFixtures implements FixtureInterface
public function load(ObjectManager $manager)
// ... lines 13 - 19

Clear out that User code. We need to create Genuses.. and we have some perfectly good code in newAction() we can steal to do that. Paste that it:

// ... lines 1 - 4
use AppBundle\Entity\Genus;
// ... lines 6 - 8
class LoadFixtures implements FixtureInterface
public function load(ObjectManager $manager)
$genus = new Genus();
$genus->setName('Octopus'.rand(1, 100));
$genus->setSpeciesCount(rand(100, 99999));

The $manager argument passed to this function is the entity manager. Use it to persist $genus and don't forget the Genus use statement. Oh, and only one namespace - whoops!

I know this is not very interesting yet - stay with me. To run this, head over to the terminal and run:

./bin/console doctrine:fixtures:load

This clears out the database and runs all of our fixture classes - we only have 1. Now, head back to the list page. Here is our one random genus. So it's kind of cool... but I know - totally underwhelming. Enter Alice: she makes fixtures fun again.