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Role Hierarchy

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Our site will eventually have many different sections that will need to be accessed by many different types of aquanaut users.

Maybe the genus admin section should only be visible to marine biologists and super admins, while only the "management aquanauts" can see some future edit user section. Oh, and and of course, we programmers should be able to see everything... because let's face it - we always give ourselves access.

What's the best way to organize this? When you protect a section, instead of checking for something like ROLE_ADMIN or ROLE_MANAGEMENT - which describes the type of person that will have access, you might instead use a role that describes what is being accessed. In this case, we could use something like ROLE_MANAGE_GENUS:

// ... lines 1 - 11
* @Security("is_granted('ROLE_MANAGE_GENUS')")
* @Route("/admin")
class GenusAdminController extends Controller
// ... lines 17 - 86

Why? The advantage is that you can very quickly give this role to any user in the database in order to allow them access to this section, but no others. If you plan ahead and do this, it'll give you more flexibility in the future.

A lot of Roles: A lot of Management

It's the perfect setup! Until you put it into practice. Because now, when you launch a new section that requires a new role - ROLE_OCTOPUS_PHOTO_MANAGE - the super admins and programmers won't have access to it until you manually add this role to all of those users. That's lame.

Of course, you can solve this with that group system we talked about earlier, but that's usually overkill. And, there's a simpler way.

Role Hierarchy

In security.yml, let's take advantage of something called role hierarchies. It's simple, it's awesome!. Add a new key called role_hierarchy and, below that, set ROLE_ADMIN: [ROLE_MANAGE_GENUS]:

39 lines | app/config/security.yml
// ... lines 1 - 2
// ... lines 4 - 6
// ... lines 9 - 39

In other words, if anybody has ROLE_ADMIN, automatically give them ROLE_MANAGE_GENUS. Later, when you launch the new Octopus photo admin area, just add ROLE_OCTOPUS_PHOTO_MANAGE here and be done with it.

To see it in action, comment it out temporarily. Now, head to /admin/genus. Access denied! No surprise. Uncomment the role hierarchy and try it again. Access granted!

The strategy is this: first: lock down different sections using role names that describe what it's protecting - like ROLE_OCTOPUS_PHOTO_MANAGE. Second, in security.yml, create group-based roles here - like ROLE_MARINE_BIOLOGIST or ROLE_MANAGEMENT - and assign each the permissions they should have. With this setup, you should be able to give most users just one role in the database.

Of course, don't bother doing anything of this if your app is simple and will have just one or two different types of users.

Ok, now that we know how to give each user the exact access they need, let's find out how to impersonate them.