Code snippets for symfony 1.x


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Login form in Symfony 1.1, with the new form system

Symfony 1.1 comes with a complete new form system. It works completely according to the MVC draft:

Make sure you have a running Symfony 1.1 based project and application and modules. In this example I build the form inside the myModule module and myLogin action.

My form makes use of i18n, which is in my case autoloaded in settings.yml.

This tutorial uses Symfony 1.1 beta4 and RC1. There are a little important changes with respect to beta3, which I don't cover.

I also expect you to have practical knowledge and a little bit experience with Symfony as system. I will not explain how you i18n implements or modules shield with security.yml.

The form design

The form gets two import fields: username and password. Furthermore is there a hidden field in which the URI comes that the user requested, but got redirected to the loginform (through Symfony’s security.yml and settings.yml). This will be used to go to that URI again after a successful login.

Both imput fields are required I will build a custom validation for a correct username/password check. Also we want to make use of a little new protection feature: CSRF.

The form takes uses i18n for multilinguity, I will use English primarily, but the view has been prepared for other languages.

The start: the action

We will begin with the action which contains the primary control.

 * Executes myLogin action
 * Login functionality.
 * @param void
 * @return void
 * @access public
public function executeMyLogin() {
   // Erase auth data
   // Build login form
   $oForm = new inloggenForm();
   if ($this->getRequest()->isMethod('post')) { // When called through POST (form submit)
           array('username' => $this->getRequest()->getParameter('username'),
                 'password' => $this->getRequest()->getParameter('password'),
                 'referrer' => $this->getRequest()->getParameter('referrer'),
      // Save orginal requested location in referrer field
      $oForm->setDefault('referrer', $this->getRequest()->getParameter('referrer'));
      if ($oForm->isValid()) { // When validations OK
          $aValues = $oForm->getValues();
          // Authentification
          // To requested page
   } else {
      // Save original requested uri in form
      $oForm->setDefault('referrer', sfContext::getInstance()->getRequest()->getUri());
   $this->oForm = $oForm; // form to view

Logic of authentification is set after POST further. Through the sfForm::bind() method couples the input of the user coupled with the form controller.

The form controller

I made this in myModule/lib/form/inloggenForm.class.php. In the form is defined and coupled with the validations and the formatting.

class inloggenForm extends sfForm {
     * Prepare validators
    private function _setValidators() {
        $this->oValGebruikersnaam = new sfValidatorAnd(
                                        new sfValidatorString(array('min_length' => 3, 'max_length' => 50),
                                                              array('min_length' => 'The username should be at least three characters long',
                                                                    'max_length' => 'The username should be fifty characters long at most',
                                        new sfValidatorCallback(array('callback'  => array('cmsLoginValidator', 'execute'),
                                                                      'arguments' => array()
                                                                array('invalid'  => 'This username/password combination is unknown')
                                    array('required'   => TRUE),
                                    array('required'   => 'The username is mandatory')
        $this->oValWachtwoord = new sfValidatorString(array('required' => TRUE),
                                                      array('required'   => 'The password is mandatory')
        $this->oValReferrer = new sfValidatorString(array('required' => FALSE));
     * Prepare widgets
    private function _setWidgets() {
        $this->oWidGebruikersnaam = new sfWidgetFormInput(array(), array('id' => 'username', 'size' => 25));
        $this->oWidWachtwoord     = new sfWidgetFormInputPassword(array(), array('id' => 'password', 'size' => 10));
        $this->oWidReferrer       = new sfWidgetFormInputHidden(array(), array('id' => 'referrer'));
     * Configure form
    public function configure()     {
         * Set validators
        $this->setValidators(array('username' => $this->oValGebruikersnaam,
                                   'password'     => $this->oValWachtwoord,
                                   'referrer'       => $this->oValReferrer,
         * Set widgets
        $this->setWidgets(array('username' => $this->oWidGebruikersnaam,
                                'password'     => $this->oWidWachtwoord,
                                'referrer'       => $this->oWidReferrer,
         * Set decorator
        $oDecorator = new sfWidgetFormSchemaFormatterDiv($this->getWidgetSchema());
        $this->getWidgetSchema()->addFormFormatter('div', $oDecorator);
        $this->getWidgetSchema()->setHelps(array('username' => 'Please enter your username',
                                                 'password' => 'Please enter your password'
     * Bind override
    public function bind(array $taintedValues = null, array $taintedFiles = array()) {
        $request = sfContext::getInstance()->getRequest();
        if ($request->hasParameter(self::$CSRFFieldName))         {
            $taintedValues[self::$CSRFFieldName] = $request->getParameter(self::$CSRFFieldName);
        parent::bind($taintedValues, $taintedFiles);

There are two private methods:

I overloaded the earlier mentioned bind() method to process the CSRF token internally. This fiels is regulated by sfForm internally, you to do need to worry about it much, only with the actual functionality.

The configure() method contains the functionality. The validators are created and linked to the corresponding fields and also are the widgets. Also, the decorator is defined with I will go into later on.


In _setValidators() sfValidatorBase objects are made for each field.

The password field check is the simplest, only the required input is checked. The object is of the type sfValidatorString (extend sfValidatorBase) without extra controls, only the required attribute with errortext is specified. In principle, you can use each validator as -empty- container.

The username is a combination; it is required, there are restrictions to the the stringlength and a correct login is checked. The stringcontrole/requirement is checked through sfValidatorString, which is quite simple.

The check for a correct login is done through a special validator, that does a callback to an custom function: sfValidatorCallback. This is explained later.

Since these two validators check the same field , the sfValidatorAnd validator is used that combines several validators. All validators must be satisfied. Of course Symfony also offers sfValidatorOr that checks that at least one underlying validator satisfies.

The custom logincheck

As you can see the callback validator calls to a custom class/method: myLoginValidator::execute().

 * Fiel with myLoginValidator klasse
 * @package -
 * Validation correct username/password
 * @author Jordi Backx (Snowkrash)
 * @copyright Copyright © 2008, Jordi Backx (Snowkrash)
 * @package -
class myLoginValidator {
     * execute validator
     * @param sfValidatorBase Validator instance that calls this method
     * @param string Value of field that sfValidatorCallback checks
     * @param array Arguments for correct working
     * @return value field when OK. Nothing if error (sfValidatorError exception)
    public static function execute ($oValidator, $sValue, $aArguments) {
        if ( /* check OK */ ) { // Return waarde veld indien controle OK
            return $sValue;
        // Throw exception when not OK
        throw new sfValidatorError($oValidator, 'invalid', array('value' => $sValue, 'invalid' => $oValidator->getOption('invalid')));

I set this here with no further logic, that is application specific, thus that you 'll have to do yourself. The base structure can be used. The three parameters must be defined, otherwise the whole application crashes.


In _setWidget() sfWidget objects are made for each field.

The widgets are the form elements: finally <input>, <select> etc tags in combination with labels and errortexts.

Each widget can have HTML attributes, which will be printed inside the form elements.

The view

Finally the form must be printed to the screen through a view template.

<p><?php echo __('You need to log in to be able to use the Content Management System.') ?></p>
<div id="formContainer">
<?php if ($oForm->getErrorSchema()->getErrors()) { ?>
    <div id="formulierFouten">
    <?php foreach ($oForm->getErrorSchema() as $sError) { ?>
        <li><?php echo __($sError) ?></li>
    <?php } ?>
<?php } ?>
<form action="<?php echo url_for('myModule/myLogin') ?>" method="post">
    <?php echo $oForm['username']->renderLabel(__($oForm['username']->renderLabelName())); echo $oForm['username']->renderRow(__($oForm->getWidgetSchema()->getHelp('username'))); ?>
    <?php echo $oForm['password']->renderLabel(__($oForm['password']->renderLabelName())); echo $oForm['password']->renderRow(__($oForm->getWidgetSchema()->getHelp('password'))); ?>
    <?php echo $oForm['referrer']->render(array('value' => $oForm->getDefault('referrer'))) ?>
    <?php echo $oForm['_csrf_token'] ?>
    <label for="inloggen">&nbsp;</label><input type="submit" value="Inloggen" id="inloggen" class="aanmeldenSubmit" />

You can see all the i18n code (__() helper) and some non-Symfony 1.0 form building. Errorlists are built through the errorSchema which is available within the form object, the texts themself can be translated as you can see.

Also the labels and help texts are squeezed through i18n. The field names are in English, because the labels are based on these and must go through i18n. This way everything can be translated.

You can print the whole form with an echo of $oForm (goes through __toString()), but you have more control over the layout when you use specific widgetrender functions, like I do with renderRow(). This method takes the helptext as an argument, with is also translated.

The submit button is no widget, so we place it ourselves the old-fashioned way ... no helper, that is so Symfony 1.0.

CSRF token

That one is new. It is there, but we never defined it. It is created within sfForm and only since beta4 when indicated in settings.yml:

#Form security secret (CSRF protection)
    csrf_secret:             hierjeeigenc0d3     # Unique secret to enable CSRF protection or false to disable

You can choose your own code, on which the hash inside the CSRF value is based.

The form functionally is ready, but we want more control over the layout. I am a supporter of the tableless HTML design and the standard formatter of sfForm uses ... tables. Well, we can do better.

The form controller showed the coupling with my own formatter:

 * Set decorator
$oDecorator = new sfWidgetFormSchemaFormatterDiv($this->getWidgetSchema());
$this->getWidgetSchema()->addFormFormatter('div', $oDecorator);

I will now go into this part.

I have a class sfWidgetFormSchemaFormatterDiv in sfWidgetFormSchemaFormatterDiv.class.php made in the application-level lib/ directory so that all modules of can use it.

This takes care of the HTML layout of the form elements.

class sfWidgetFormSchemaFormatterDiv extends sfWidgetFormSchemaFormatter {
        $rowFormat = '%error%%field%<br />%help%<br />',
        $helpFormat = '<span class="help">%help%</span>',
        $errorRowFormat = '<div>%errors%</div>',
        $errorListFormatInARow = '%errors%',
        $errorRowFormatInARow = '<div class="formError">&darr;&nbsp;%error%&nbsp;&darr;</div>',
        $namedErrorRowFormatInARow = '%name%: %error%<br />',
        $decoratorFormat = '<div id="formContainer">%content%</div>';

A good article is available that describes this system.

For people that wonder why the label (%label% placeholder) is not used: $rowFormat sets the layout of the renderRow() method and since I want to render the label separately (i18n), it must not be rendered a second time by renderRow().


Hopefully the above can be a good help for your own form in Symfony 1.1. The documentation is quite scarce at the moment, so each bit of help will be welcome.

If the English is somewhat bad, I did a automatic translation of my original Dutch version of the article and tuned that a bit. The reason? I am lazy. ;-)

If you find errors in the above, it is because of copying my code probably. Please mention it in the comments.

Good luck!

by Jordi Backx on 2008-05-10, tagged 11  csrf  decorator  form  formatter  i18n  login  sfform  symfony  validator  widget