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Delightful Dummy Data with Alice

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Now things are about to get fun. A few minutes ago, we installed a library called nelmio/alice - search for that and find their GitHub page.

In a nutshell, this library lets us add fixtures data via YAML files. It has an expressive syntax and it ships with a bunch of built-in functions for generating random data. Actually, it uses yet another library behind the scenes called Faker to do that. It's the PHP circle of life!

Creating the Fixture YAML File

Find the ORM directory and create a new file called - how about fixtures.yml. That filename lacks excitement, but at least it's clear.

Start with the class name you want to create - AppBundle\Entity\Genus. Next, each genus needs an internal, unique name - it could be anything. But wait! Finish the name with 1..10:

... lines 3 - 7

With this syntax, Alice will loop over and create 10 Genus objects for free. Boom!

To finish things, set values on each of the Genus properties: name: <name()>. You could just put any value here, but when using <>, you're calling a built-in Faker function. Next, use subFamily: <text(20)> to generate 20 characters of random text, speciesCount: <numberBetween(100, 100000)> and funFact: <sentence()>:

name: <name()>
subFamily: <text(20)>
speciesCount: <numberBetween(100, 100000)>
funFact: <sentence()>

That's it team! To load this file, open up LoadFixtures and remove all of that boring garbage. Replace it with Fixtures - autocomplete that to get the use statement - then ::load(). Pass this __DIR__.'/fixtures.yml' and then the entity manager:

... lines 1 - 7
use Nelmio\Alice\Fixtures;
class LoadFixtures implements FixtureInterface
public function load(ObjectManager $manager)
$objects = Fixtures::load(__DIR__.'/fixtures.yml', $manager);

Now, run the exact command as before:

./bin/console doctrine:fixtures:load

I love when there are no errors. Refresh the list page. Voila: 10 completely random genuses. I love Alice.

All The Faker Functions

Well.... the genus name is actually the name of a person... which is pretty ridiculous. Let's fix that in a second.

But first, Nelmio's documentation has a ton of cool examples of things you can do with this library. But the biggest things you'll want to check out is the Faker library that this integrates. This shows you all of the built-in functions we were just using - like numberBetween, word, sentence and a ton more. There is some great stuff in here.

Now if we can just make the genus name a little more realistic.

Leave a comment!

What PHP libraries does this tutorial use?

// composer.json
    "require": {
        "php": ">=5.5.9",
        "symfony/symfony": "3.1.*", // v3.1.4
        "doctrine/orm": "^2.5", // v2.7.2
        "doctrine/doctrine-bundle": "^1.6", // 1.6.4
        "doctrine/doctrine-cache-bundle": "^1.2", // 1.3.0
        "symfony/swiftmailer-bundle": "^2.3", // v2.3.11
        "symfony/monolog-bundle": "^2.8", // 2.11.1
        "symfony/polyfill-apcu": "^1.0", // v1.2.0
        "sensio/distribution-bundle": "^5.0", // v5.0.22
        "sensio/framework-extra-bundle": "^3.0.2", // v3.0.16
        "incenteev/composer-parameter-handler": "^2.0", // v2.1.2
        "knplabs/knp-markdown-bundle": "^1.4", // 1.4.2
        "doctrine/doctrine-migrations-bundle": "^1.1" // 1.1.1
    "require-dev": {
        "sensio/generator-bundle": "^3.0", // v3.0.7
        "symfony/phpunit-bridge": "^3.0", // v3.1.3
        "nelmio/alice": "^2.1", // 2.1.4
        "doctrine/doctrine-fixtures-bundle": "^2.3" // 2.3.0