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Symfony is a popular web framework written in PHP that makes it easy to build robust web applications for enterprises. Find out more at http://symfony.com/.

In this tutorial, we will walk through the deployment of Symfony Standard Edition (a sandbox for getting started with Symfony). But, you should be able to deploy any Symfony application on DotCloud by using these simple steps.

Make sure you already have the DotCloud CLI installed, if not, check out the PHP Hello World first.

Directory Structure

Download Symfony standard edition, without vendors, at http://symfony.com/download, and extract it:

$ tar -xzf Symfony_Standard_2.0.3.tgz
$ cd Symfony

Before we get any further, here is what the directory structure should look like at the end of the tutorial:

├── app/         # Mainly contains the configuration of the application
├── bin/         # Contains a script to perform actions from the command line
├── deps         # List of dependencies that are installed under vendor/
├── deps.lock    # List of the installed dependencies versions
├── dotcloud.yml # The description of your application on DotCloud
├── README.md
├── src/         # Where you will place the sources of your application
├── vendor/      # Third parties libraries
└── web/         # Holds the front-controller and is the root of the webserver
    ├── app.php      # The production mode front-controller
    ├── app_dev.php  # The development mode front-controller
    ├── apple-touch-icon.png
    ├── bundles/     # Hold static files
    ├── config.php
    ├── favicon.ico
    ├── nginx.conf   # A specific Nginx configuration for Symfony
    ├── php.ini      # Additional PHP configuration
    ├── postinstall* # A post install hook to install the vendors libraries
    └── robots.txt

DotCloud Build File

Open the file dotcloud.yml using your favorite text editor and copy paste this description:

  type: php
  approot: web

  type: mysql


We are using MySQL here but you can also use PostgreSQL (replace “mysql” by “postgresql”).

Setup the Front Controller

Edit a customized Nginx configuration in web/nginx.conf, we need this to redirect all the requests to the front controller:

# Set this to "app.php" to go into production mode:
set $front_controller app_dev.php;

index $front_controller;

try_files $uri $uri/ /$front_controller$uri;

location ~ ".+\.php($|/.*)" {
   if ( -f /home/dotcloud/current/maintenance) {
       return 503;

   fastcgi_pass                     unix:/var/dotcloud/php5-fpm.sock;
   include                          fastcgi_params;
   include                          /home/dotcloud/current/\*fastcgi.conf;
   fastcgi_split_path_info          ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
   fastcgi_param PATH_INFO          $fastcgi_path_info;
   fastcgi_param PATH_TRANSLATED    $document_root$fastcgi_path_info;

By default, the demo access is restricted to localhost, we need to edit the front controller to remove this restriction, you just have to remove the first block of code in web/app_dev.php:

--- Symfony/web/app_dev.php     2011-07-28 01:52:29.000000000 -0700
+++ Symfony/web/app_dev.php     2011-08-25 16:08:27.348433170 -0700
@@ -1,15 +1,5 @@

-// this check prevents access to debug front controllers that are deployed by accident to production servers.
-// feel free to remove this, extend it, or make something more sophisticated.
-if (!in_array(@$_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'], array(
-    '',
-    '::1',
-))) {
-    header('HTTP/1.0 403 Forbidden');
-    die('You are not allowed to access this file. Check '.basename(__FILE__).' for more information.');
 require_once __DIR__.'/../app/bootstrap.php.cache';
 require_once __DIR__.'/../app/AppKernel.php';

Configure your Database

Symfony gets the database settings from the file: app/config/config.yml. Actually, this file contains placeholders (surrounded by “%” characters) for the database parameters. By default, Symfony expects that you define the values for these placeholders in the file: app/config/parameters.ini. But DotCloud defines the database settings in an another file called the Environment File. The DotCloud environment file contains, among other variables, the credentials to access to your database.

The simplest way to automatically configure your Symfony database is to write another “resource file” that will load the DotCloud environment and set the right values for the placeholders, this resource file will be app/config/dotcloud.php:

<?php /* app/config/dotcloud.php: */

$dotcloud_env_file = '/home/dotcloud/environment.json';
$dotcloud_env = json_decode(file_get_contents($dotcloud_env_file), true);

/* Change it to 'pdo_pgsql' if you want to use PostgreSQL: */
$container->setParameter('database_driver', 'pdo_mysql');
$container->setParameter('database_host', $dotcloud_env['DOTCLOUD_DB_MYSQL_HOST']);
$container->setParameter('database_port', $dotcloud_env['DOTCLOUD_DB_MYSQL_PORT']);
$container->setParameter('database_user', $dotcloud_env['DOTCLOUD_DB_MYSQL_LOGIN']);
$container->setParameter('database_password', $dotcloud_env['DOTCLOUD_DB_MYSQL_PASSWORD']);

Then, you need to add this file to the imports list in app/config/config.yml:

    - { resource: parameters.ini }
    - { resource: security.yml }
    - { resource: dotcloud.php }

    # …


The keys in the DotCloud environment file reflect the content of your dotcloud.yml file. If you modify the name or the type of a service you will certainly need to edit the app/config/dotcloud.php file again.

Configure the Timezone

Symfony needs a properly defined timezone, you can configure it from a web/php.ini file:

date.timezone = America/Los_Angeles

Install the Vendors

Symfony depends on several separate libraries (an ORM, a SMTP library...). All these libraries take a significant amount of place and cannot be conveniently tracked in a version control system. These dependencies are listed in the file called deps at the root of the application.

Symfony provide a little script named vendors in the bin directory that read the deps and deps.lock files to install all the needed libraries.

We can execute this script from a Build Hooks, web/postinstall:


# Install the vendor libraries
# The ~/code directory, where your application lives on DotCloud, is erased by
# the newer version of your code, each time you push.
# So, we would need to reinstall all the vendor libraries if we left them
# inside ~/code.
# That's why we install the vendor libraries outside of ~/code and create a
# symlink to it.
symfony_install_vendor() {
    local vendor_directory=$HOME/vendor/

    [ -d $vendor_directory ] || mkdir -p $vendor_directory

    rm -rf ~/code/vendor
    ln -s $vendor_directory ~/code/vendor

    php ~/code/bin/vendors install



The ~/code directory, where your application lives on DotCloud, is erased by the newer version of your code, each time you push. So, we would need to reinstall all the vendor libraries if we left them inside ~/code. That’s why we install the vendor libraries outside of ~/code and create a symlink to it.

Deploy your application

Create your application on the flavor of your choice:

$ dotcloud create symfony

Push it to DotCloud:

$ dotcloud push symfony

Initialize the database:

$ dotcloud run symfony.www -- php code/app/console doctrine:database:create
$ dotcloud run symfony.www -- php code/app/console doctrine:schema:create

Navigate to http://symfony-username.dotcloud.com and see your application running!

If you run into any problems, please contact us at support@dotcloud.com or visit us in #dotcloud, our IRC chatroom on Freenode.