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Upgrading Recipes: New Commands!

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Fun fact time! When you start a brand new Symfony project, behind the scenes, what you're actually doing is cloning this repository: symfony/skeleton. Yep, your app literally starts as a single composer.json file. But as soon as Composer installs your dependencies, the app is suddenly filled with a few directories and about 15 files.

All Config Files Come from a Recipe

All of those things are added by different recipes. So even the most "core" files - for example, public/index.php, the file that our web server executes, is added by a recipe!

28 lines | public/index.php
// ... lines 1 - 2
use App\Kernel;
use Symfony\Component\Debug\Debug;
use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;
require dirname(__DIR__).'/config/bootstrap.php';
if ($_SERVER['APP_DEBUG']) {
if ($trustedProxies = $_SERVER['TRUSTED_PROXIES'] ?? $_ENV['TRUSTED_PROXIES'] ?? false) {
Request::setTrustedProxies(explode(',', $trustedProxies), Request::HEADER_X_FORWARDED_ALL ^ Request::HEADER_X_FORWARDED_HOST);
if ($trustedHosts = $_SERVER['TRUSTED_HOSTS'] ?? $_ENV['TRUSTED_HOSTS'] ?? false) {
$kernel = new Kernel($_SERVER['APP_ENV'], (bool) $_SERVER['APP_DEBUG']);
$request = Request::createFromGlobals();
$response = $kernel->handle($request);
$kernel->terminate($request, $response);

We pretty much never need to look inside here or do anything, even though it's critical to our app working.

Another example is config/bootstrap.php:

52 lines | config/bootstrap.php
// ... lines 1 - 2
use Symfony\Component\Dotenv\Dotenv;
require dirname(__DIR__).'/vendor/autoload.php';
// Load cached env vars if the .env.local.php file exists
// Run "composer dump-env prod" to create it (requires symfony/flex >=1.2)
if (is_array($env = @include dirname(__DIR__).'/.env.local.php')) {
$_SERVER += $env;
$_ENV += $env;
} elseif (!class_exists(Dotenv::class)) {
throw new RuntimeException('Please run "composer require symfony/dotenv" to load the ".env" files configuring the application.');
} else {
$path = dirname(__DIR__).'/.env';
$dotenv = new Dotenv();
// load all the .env files
if (method_exists($dotenv, 'loadEnv')) {
} else {
// fallback code in case your Dotenv component is not 4.2 or higher (when loadEnv() was added)
if (file_exists($path) || !file_exists($p = "$path.dist")) {
} else {
if (null === $env = $_SERVER['APP_ENV'] ?? $_ENV['APP_ENV'] ?? null) {
$dotenv->populate(array('APP_ENV' => $env = 'dev'));
if ('test' !== $env && file_exists($p = "$path.local")) {
$env = $_SERVER['APP_ENV'] ?? $_ENV['APP_ENV'] ?? $env;
if (file_exists($p = "$path.$env")) {
if (file_exists($p = "$path.$env.local")) {
$_SERVER['APP_ENV'] = $_ENV['APP_ENV'] = ($_SERVER['APP_ENV'] ?? $_ENV['APP_ENV'] ?? null) ?: 'dev';
$_SERVER['APP_DEBUG'] = $_SERVER['APP_DEBUG'] ?? $_ENV['APP_DEBUG'] ?? 'prod' !== $_SERVER['APP_ENV'];

the boring, low-level file that initializes and normalizes environment variables. It's important that all Symfony projects have the same version of this file. If they didn't, some apps might work different than others... even if they have the same version of Symfony. Think of trying to write documentation for thousands of projects that all work a little bit differently. It's literally my nightmare.

All of the configuration files were also originally added by recipes. For example, cache.yaml comes from the recipe for symfony/framework-bundle:

21 lines | config/packages/cache.yaml
// ... lines 3 - 13
# APCu (not recommended with heavy random-write workloads as memory fragmentation can cause perf issues)
app: '%cache_adapter%'
# Namespaced pools use the above "app" backend by default
adapter: cache.app

Why Recipes Update

Over time, the recipes themselves tend to change. If we installed the symfony/framework-bundle today, it might give us a slightly different cache.yaml file.

There are three reasons that a recipe might change. First, someone might update a recipe just because they want to add more examples or add some documentation comments to a config file. Those changes... aren't super important.

Or, second, someone might update a configuration file inside a recipe to activate a new feature that's probably from a new version of that library. These changes aren't critical to know about... but it is nice to know if a great new feature is suddenly available. We saw that a few minutes ago when the updated MonologBundle recipe told us about a cool option for filtering logs by status code.

The third reason a recipe might update is because something needs to be fixed, or we decide that we want to change some significant behavior. These changes are important.

Let me give you an example: during the first year after Symfony 4.0, several small but meaningful tweaks were made to the bootstrap.php file to make sure that environment variables have just the right behavior. If you started your project on Symfony 4.0 and never "updated" the bootstrap.php file, your app will be handling environment variables in a different way than other apps. That's... not great: we want our bootstrap.php file to look exactly like it should.

New Recipe Commands!

A few minutes ago, when we did all the composer updating stuff, one of the packages that we upgraded was symfony/flex itself: we upgraded it to 1.6.0:

104 lines | composer.json
// ... lines 2 - 3
"require": {
// ... lines 5 - 24
"symfony/flex": "^1.0",
// ... lines 26 - 43
// ... lines 45 - 102

Well guess what?! Starting in Flex 1.6.0, there are some brand new fancy, amazing, incredible commands inside Composer to help inspect & upgrade recipes. It still takes a little bit of work and care, but the process is now very possible. A big thanks to community member and friend maxhelias who really helped to get this done.

Let's go check them out! Move over to your terminal and run:

composer recipes

Cool! This lists every recipe that we have installed and whether or not there is an update available. Heck, it will even show you if a package that's installed has a recipe that you're missing - maybe because it was added later.

Because my project was originally created on Symfony 4.0, it's fairly old and a lot of recipes have updates. The recipe system is also relatively new, so I think there were more updates during the first 2 years of that system than there will be in the next two years. We've got some work to do. Of course, we could just ignore these recipe updates... but we're risking our app not working quite right or missing info about new features.

Inspecting the twig/extension Recipe

Let's look at one of these more closely. How about twig/extensions. This is not a particularly important library, but it's a nice one to start with. Run:

composer recipes twig/extensions

to see more details. Interesting: it has a link to the installed version of the recipe. Let's go check that out in the browser. Paste and... this is what the recipe looked like the moment we installed it. We can also go grab the URL to see what the latest version of the recipe looks like.

Check out the commit history. The version of the recipe we have installed has a commit hash starting with c986. Back on the history, hey! That commit is right here! So this recipe is out of date, but the only change that's been made is this one commit. Inside it... search for twig/extensions to find its changes. Ha! It's totally superficial: we changed from using tilde (~) to null... but just for clarity: those are equivalent in YAML.

Yep! The update to twig/extension is not important at all. We could still update it - and I'll show you how next. But I'm going to skip it for now. Because... this is a tutorial about upgrading Symfony! So I want to focus on upgrading the recipes for everything that starts with symfony/.

Let's start that process next by focusing on, surprisingly, one of the most important recipes: symfony/console.