Dependency injection in Symfony

Sep 29, 2021

Dependency injection

Dependency injection is a mechanism that implements the principle of inversion of control. The idea is to create dynamically (inject) dependencies of a class using a description (a configuration file for example). This method will allow us to no longer express dependencies between components in the code statically, but to determine them dynamically at execution.

Let's take an example to illustrate this. Imagine that we have a class A, that depends on classes B and C. In my code I would need to do this:

<?php namespace App\Services; class B implements InterfaceB { // ... }
<?php namespace App\Services; class C implements InterfaceC { // ... }
<?php namespace App\Services; class A { private B $b; private C $c; public function __construct() { $this->b = new B(); $this->c = new C(); } // ... }

With dependency injection, I will no longer need to create instances of classes B and C manually, I will inject them instead:

<?php namespace App\Services; class A { private InterfaceB $b; private InterfaceC $c; public function __construct(InterfaceB $b, InterfaceC $c) { $this->b = $b; $this->c = $c; } // ... }

Since PHP 8, I can even do this:

<?php namespace App\Services; class A { public function __construct( private InterfaceB $b, private InterfaceC $c, ) { } // ... }

Instances of classes B and C will be created by a class whose responsibility is to read configuration files and create objects.

The main advantage of dependency injection is to separate the creation of objects from their use. Moreover, by injecting our dependencies, we can use interfaces instead of classes and thus avoid a strong coupling between our classes.

In Symfony

In Symfony framework, dependency injection is done via the service Container, which is built by ContainerBuilder. The latter is initialized by the Kernel.

Service Container

In a production environment, the kernel will first look for a cached version of the Container for performance concerns. If it exists, the cached version is used. Otherwise, the kernel will build one based on our application's configuration.

As you know, our Symfony application's configuration is done in the config folder. The ContainerBuilder will parse all configuration files of our application, and fetch all parameters and services that we have declared, as well as those of our dependencies. It will take into account, among other things, tagged services and Compiler passes (see below). Once the compilation is done, a cached version of the Container will be dumped to be used in the following calls.

To learn more about this process, you can read the documentation.

Service declaration

Let's go back to our previous example, and learn how to declare our classes as services:

# config/services.yaml services: App\Services\B: App\Services\C: App\Services\A: arguments: - '@App\Services\B' - '@App\Services\C'

I configure each of my services separately. To inject one service into another, I pass it as an argument of the second service, prefixing it with an '@'.


Since version 3.4 of Symfony, we have the possibility to use the autowiring, which will prevent me from declaring all the services by hand:

# config/services.yaml services: # configuration of default services in *this* file _defaults: autowire: true # automatically inject dependencies in our services autoconfigure: true # automatically declare our services as commands, event subscribers, etc. # make classes in src/ available to be used as services # this will create a service per class App\: resource: '../src/*' exclude: '../src/{DependencyInjection,Entity,Tests,Kernel.php}' # ...

In our services, we can inject not only other services, but also the parameters configured in the application. Here's an example:

<?php namespace App\Services; class AdminMailer { private string $recipient; public function __construct(string $adminEmail) { $this->recipient = $adminEmail; } // ... }
# config/services.yaml services: _defaults: bind: # any argument called $adminEmail in a constructor will have this value $adminEmail: ''

These are basic examples to give you an overview of dependency injection. I invite you to read the Symfony documentation on dependency injection for a global view of what is possible to do, this component is very powerful!

Tagged services

Those who have been using Symfony for some time have probably already encountered tagged services. Tagged services are a way to tell Symfony that your service needs to be loaded in a certain way. Take the following example: I want to format the exceptions in my application, for that I am going to intercept a specific event.

# config/services.yaml services: App\EventListener\ExceptionListener: tags: - { name: kernel.event_listener, event: kernel.exception }

All services tagged kernel.event_listener are loaded by the FrameworkBundle and are called depending on the event they are linked to. There is a multitude of tags available in Symfony, each one has a specific role. Thus, you can act on events as seen above, as well as add Twig extensions, interact on an entity's serialization process, etc.

Custom tags and Compiler passes

Now imagine that in my application I have a document generation system. I would like to implement a clean and easily maintainable solution, with a central service which, depending on the type of document desired, will delegate the generation of the document to the right service.

For this, I will create a generator per desired document type, tag them with a custom tag, and then inject them into my main document generation service.

Initially, I create an interface for my generators, to make sure they all behave the same:

<?php namespace App\Services; interface DocumentGeneratorInterface { public function supports(string $type): bool; public function generate(array $data): mixed; }

Next, I prepare my main document generation service. Only it will be injected into services in my application where I will need to generate a document:

<?php namespace App\Services; class DocumentGenerator { private array $documentGenerators; public function addGenerator(DocumentGeneratorInterface $generator): void { $this->documentGenerators[] = $generator; } public function generate(array $data, string $type): mixed { /** @var GeneratorInterface $generator */ foreach ($this->documentGenerators as $generator) { if (!$generator->supports($type)) { continue; } return $generator->generate($data); } throw new \LogicException(sprintf('Document of type %s cannot be handled', $type)); } }

Finally, I implement my generators by document type:

<?php namespace App\Services; class PDFDocumentGenerator { public function supports(string $type): bool { return $type === 'pdf'; } public function generate(array $data): mixed { // generation du document } }
<?php namespace App\Services; class CSVDocumentGenerator { public function supports(string $type): bool { return $type === 'csv'; } public function generate(array $data): mixed { // generation du document } }

To tell dependency injection that my generators must have a specific tag, I can declare it this way:

# config/services.yaml services: _instanceof: # all instances of DocumentGeneratorInterface will be automatically tagged App\Services\DocumentGeneratorInterface: tags: ['app.document_generator']

Now I just have to tell the dependency injection that all the services tagged app.document_generator should be injected into my DocumentGenerator class. For that, I'll create a custom Compiler pass:

namespace App\DependencyInjection\Compiler; use App\Services\DocumentGenerator; use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Compiler\CompilerPassInterface; use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\ContainerBuilder; use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Reference; class DocumentGeneratorPass implements CompilerPassInterface { public function process(ContainerBuilder $container): void { if (!$container->has(DocumentGenerator::class)) { return; } $definition = $container->findDefinition(DocumentGenerator::class); $taggedServices = $container->findTaggedServiceIds('app.document_generator'); foreach ($taggedServices as $id => $tags) { $definition->addMethodCall('addGenerator', [new Reference($id)]); } } }

Finally, last step, add my Compiler pass in the Kernel:

// src/Kernel.php namespace App; use App\DependencyInjection\Compiler\DocumentGeneratorPass; use Symfony\Component\HttpKernel\Kernel as BaseKernel; // ... class Kernel extends BaseKernel { // ... protected function build(ContainerBuilder $container): void { $container->addCompilerPass(new DocumentGeneratorPass()); } }

Thanks to my custom tag, I can very easily add a new type of document to generate in the application, without having to modify the rest of the application.

Learn more

We have just walked through dependency injection in Symfony together. It is a very powerful component and central to the framework. If you want to learn more, feel free to browse the very well done documentation.

Related articles

Domain anemia

Are you suffering from domain anemia? Let's look at what an anemic domain model is and how things can change.

Oct 13, 20209mnRomain Pierlot

Discover Eleven Labs

To learn more, visit our website

Let's go


Eleven Labs - Paris

102, rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré

75008 Paris

Eleven Labs - Nantes

42, rue la Tour d'Auvergne

44200 Nantes

Eleven Labs - Montréal

1155, Metcalfe St Suite 1500

Montréal, QC H3B 2V6, Canada