Managing Console scripts with Silex

I’ve wrote about using the ConsoleServiceProvider with Silex a few months ago and after a few hours of programming, I had a lot of scripts which needed to run continuously. When debugging I needed to kill and restart those fairly quick. I’ve created a console script with a few helper classes to make my set up more manageable. I’ve added all these files to my silex-base repo. you can find everything in the file on how to use this.

When you want to create a script it works like this: First you create your own script in app/console. Make sure this file has all the right permissions. The next step is to add this to the config in the Console.php file. You can add a description, name & an interval. The default is an interval of 60 seconds. Next step is to create your own Command file. This file has to implement two methods: Configure (where you will fetch the config from the Console class) and execute (where you will execute your own code – see using the ConsoleServiceProvider with Silex a few months ago). I’ve also added a Timing class which calculates how long a script runs.

Console Scripts Config

When this is all configured, running the “app/console/console scripts” command will try to execute all scripts that are available.
You can kill those scripts with the –kill optional argument. You can start (or kill) a single script like this:

app/console/console scripts import (--kill)

The output of all those scripts can be found in the app/logs/console files.



Global Variables in Twig with Silex

Recently I assigned my user object to a template in my UserController. The moment I did this i realised I should assign this globally instead of reassigning it to each view. In my set-up, all my Controllers extend my CoreController class. It’s a place where I just put up some proxies that do a lot of general stuff so that my UserController (or other controllers) won’t be cluttered.

I’ve added my silex-base git repository to github, feel free to give me feedback on how my project structure looks. This repository can be installed using Composer and gives you the basic stuff you’ll need in an application. It used the Symfony Security component for registering and logging users in. Plus bonus points for twitter bootstrap.

I’ve added the filters class from my previous post (Extending Twig template engine with Silex) and a mysql dump for users and logging.  The project structure looks like this and links to the Github repository:

Silex-base Structure

Now, back to the global variable issue|bug|feature:
Because of my CoreController which has methods like getTwig() and getUser() I could easily do something like this:

     * @return \Twig_Environment
    protected function getTwig() {
        // add globals
        $this->app['twig']->addGlobal('user', $this->getUser());
        return $this->app['twig'];

     * @return User|Null|string
    protected function getUser() {
        if(is_null($this->getSecurity()->getToken())) {
            return null;

        return $this->getSecurity()->getToken()->getUser();

     * @return SecurityContext
    protected function getSecurity() {
        return $this->app['security'];

Great, I can now use my $user object in any template. Next up is getting phpunit working within Silex.
Any hints and tips on my project structure are greatly appreciated.

Extending Twig template engine with Silex

In my Silex project I’m currently using the Twig template engine. It’s a truly great template compiler. But it’s so much more than that. Just a copy paste from the Twig website:

  • Fast: Twig compiles templates down to plain optimized PHP code. The overhead compared to regular PHP code was reduced to the very minimum.
  • Secure: Twig has a sandbox mode to evaluate untrusted template code. This allows Twig to be used as a template language for applications where users may modify the template design.
  • Flexible: Twig is powered by a flexible lexer and parser. This allows the developer to define its own custom tags and filters, and create its own DSL.

For me, it took me some time to get used to this way of using PHP and templates, but the Twig project is greatly documented. Guaranteed solutions can be found on their documentation pages.

I wanted to extend Twig to use my custom classes and methods. I have a web application with registered users who have an email address. I want to show their gravatar as distinct users in my layout.
I don’t want to create HTML code from within my controllers, but I want something like this:

   <div class="users">
      {% for user in users %}
         <img title="{{ }}" alt="{{ }}" src="{{|gravatar }}" />
      {% endfor %}

First of, we need to create a class where we will put our filters which extends \Twig_Extension. This class can be stored anywhere, just make sure your namespace can be used in your bootstrap file. This could look something like this:

Filter class which extends \Twig_Extension
Filter class which extends \Twig_Extension

We need to overwrite the abstract methods getFilters which will need to return all your filters you want to use. (As stated in the abstract class \Twig_Extension: Returns a list of filters to add to the existing list.). The getName() method must return an unique identifier for your extension.

Next we need to tell Twig that we have custom filters we want to use (after registering).

use Silex\Provider\TwigServiceProvider;

$app->register(new TwigServiceProvider(), array(
    'twig.path' => __DIR__ . '/../web/public/views'

$app['twig'] = $app->extend("twig", function (\Twig_Environment $twig, Silex\Application $app) {
    $twig->addExtension(new Classes\Utils\Filters($app));

    return $twig;

Using ConsoleServiceProvider with Silex

I recently needed a few scripts that run as cronjobs. Symfony has something like the Console Component which gives the possibility to create command line interfaces for your code.

The people from KNPLabs created a ConsoleServiceProvider which Provides a Symfony\Component\Console based console for Silex. Registering this service provider is easy as registering any other service provider. First step is adding the knplabs/console-service-provider to the composer.json file and running composer update.

   "require": {
      "knplabs/console-service-provider": "dev-master"
   "autoload": {
      "psr-0": {"": "src/"}

Next we’ll register the service and set some options:

use Knp\Provider\ConsoleServiceProvider;

* Console Service Provider
$app->register(new ConsoleServiceProvider(), array(
	'' => 'ConsoleApp',
	'console.version' => '1.0.0',
	'console.project_directory' => __DIR__ . '/..'

Next up we’ll have to create a command script which extends the Knp\Command\Command. You’ll have to implement two methods to configure and execute a command. The configure method just defines what kind of commands are available and what kind of options you can use.

protected function configure() {
      ->setDescription('Import all data.')
         'Import for a specific user'
         'If set, the task will run in debug mode'
   ; // nice, new line

If you need the Silex\Application $app you can retrieve it using the getSilexApplication() function (available in the Knp\Command\Command namespace).

Next we need a console script which will use the Command created earlier. This will look something like this:
import console

Tip: If the executing fails, try php -d display_errors script.php to check syntax mistakes.

The execute commands looks like this:

protected function execute(InputInterface $input, OutputInterface $output) {
// use $input->getArgument('userId'); and $input->getOption('debug')

This is actually all you need to do. The configuration in your ImportCommand file will basically tell your console how to use it. Running [path to console file] without arguments will give you output about how to use your options and commands. (ex. app/console/imports).

Output when running the console file without arguments
Output when running the console file without arguments

Wow! Now you can while(true) or for(;;) the shit out of your application!

Cron jobs & cheap web hosting

I’m currently using for my web hosting. I use it for personal testing and geeking around in nerdville. Lately the services of where not enough anymore. I always could use and test what I wanted. It’s cheap and you have 24/7 support via chat.

I was building a website for a friend who owns a restaurant and he needed a guestbook page. Stubborn as I am, I didn’t want to create a guestbook when there are all these restaurant reviews websites around (with a lot of great content!). My first decision was to crawl some of these services and to show these reviews in our very own design. This worked seemingly fine but the page load was a huge turn-off. So; cronjobs!

The live chat support with was something like this (and is mostly the same):

Me: Hey!
She: Hey, how can I help you?
Me: Do you support cron jobs?
She: No.
She: Is there anything else I can help you with?

With no SSH access this would be a serious hitch. Luckily there are a lot of paid (and free) services where you can set up your cron jobs. mywebcron is the one(pun) i’m using. Totally free and right to the point.

My Web Cron
My Web Cron config

The script called does all the crawling and saves everything to my database. The pageload is now a complete turn-on. ah yezz.
It’s not the most clever solution, but it was all set up in about 10 minutes all-included. The cron runs every 15 minutes, just because I can. It’s also great to see when your website is offline.

There is another free service called Setcronjob which offers paid plans as well.  You get 50 points which means you can run 50 cronjobs daily. A big limition when you compare the previous one, but you’ll get email notifications. If you don’t run time expensive scripts (like mine) this would be a great service because of the cron timeout settings per plan.

Set Cron Job pricing

Set Cron Job email
Set Cron Job email

The guestbook is available at