Lessons learned from a Symfony2 – Training session – Part 2

Two months ago I blogged about my experiences of giving a Symfony2 training course with the PR7 release of Symfony2. The last three days I gave another in-depth Symfony2 training course, this time using beta3 / beta4. It was interessting to see how much Symfony2 has evolved over the last two month. There were improvements at every part of the Framework and the current betas made a really solid impression.

The things the attendees loved:

  • The flexibility of Symfony. It seems that is nothing you can’t do with Symfony2
  • The annotation way of developing. Having the configuration metadata of Entities and Controllers all in one place (the DocBlock of the method).
  • The maturity of the underlying concepts. You can see that all concepts are really well-thought. I wasn’t able to count the amounts of “brilliant” shouts of the attendees in these three days but there were lots of them.
  • Twig! Everybody liked Twig. Most loved: The inheritance possibility of the templates
  • Assetic. This is one of the killer features of Symfony. Assetic is really great and powerful. We faced some problems with beta3 on windows with YUICompressor. After an update to beta4 some of them seems to be fixed, others remained.
  • Doctrine: Symfony1-Users like how lightweighted Doctrine2 is. New-time users love Doctrine for the features, abstraction and Query-Language.
  • Unit-Testing: Using PHPUnit is feeling really good. The WebTestCase is a easy way to test controllers and pages.

There are still some glitches with Symfony2 that brings up

  • Long-Time Symfony1 user are missing the magic sometimes. There is a bit irritation sometimes that there is that many configuration work.
  • Because Symfony2 is moving that fast, there is the problem that some interessting Third-Party-Bundles can’t keep up with all the changes. This is a problem until we have a stable release.
  • The last betas and PRs changed a lot of syntax (take annotations for example). All these changes made sense but the problem is that there are tons of tutorials in the web that use the old ways. That is not a Symfony2 problem at all but brings up a lot of questions.
  • Documentation: The official Symfony-Documentation is getting better and better. Ryan Weaver and the others are doing a brilliant Job there, the problem is that everything that is not in the core has only little, outdated or nearly no documentation at all. Take the Assetic usage in Symfony2 for example, or the FrameworkExtraBundle. It is sometimes difficult to find the right place to start your search for information. For Symfony2-beginners it’s a challenging problem.
  • Symfony1-Users are missing the out-of-the-box behaviours of Doctrine1. Sure you can install them using the DoctrineExtraBundle but we were not able to use this Bundle with beta3.

After three days packed with Symfony2 and Doctrine-Stuff I have a very positive feeling that we are getting close to a very stable and good release of 2.0. It is pretty amazing how much more flexibility new version brings and lightweighted I feels.

As always I’m looking forward to the next Symfony2 training session.

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Lessons learned from a Symfony2 – Training session

I have given my first Symfony2 training session last week. It was a bit short (two-days) but I was able to cover the basic parts of Symfony2. As I have given a lot of symfony 1 trainings in the last three years I was pretty excited how this session will work out. Everything was new, the slides, the samples and of course the framework ;) Here are some facts I learned in this two days:

The good

  1. ASP- and Java-Users love Symfony2 :) Depepency Injection, POPOs, Entity Manager. All these concepts they know can be easily used with PHP.
  2. The new WebTestCase possibilities are incredible. Everyone liked the concept of using BrowserKit and Crawler to test simple webpages. The Usage of PHPUnit instead of
  3. Twig got some positive feedback too. Some didn’t really see the positive effects in using Twig instead of PHP on first sight but after some samples a a quick glance at the possibilities of the included filters and functions most of the attendess were convinced.
  4. Doctrine2 is fast and easy to use. Java-/Hibernate-Geeks had an easy start here because of the familarity of the API
  5. Veteran-PHP programmers without framework experience liked the possibility of MVC, environments etc.
  6. The new security subframework got some very positiv feedback too. Seems a good solution for most of the people

The bad

  1. Lack of documentation at the time of training. This is obvious and predictable. The training was done with PR9 and PR10 of Symfony2. Some of the documentation is pretty good at the moment wheras some is up to none existant or useless. A configuration reference was mostly missed. There are a lot of configuration parameters buried in the depth of Symfony and it feels like no one except of the core member are know how to use them (take a look at this for example: Stackoverflow). The Form-Framework is difficult to use at the moment because of the lacking documentation
  2. Compared with symfony 1 I saw that it is more difficult to get the attendees to a point of initial understanding how a Symfony application is build and working. This is because of the lack of Convention over configuration. At the moment I’m feeling the Configuration over Convention difficult to explain.
  3. The possibility of using different ways of configuration was kind of confusing to some of the attendees. When should I use YAML, XML or annotations? Difficult to get a common understanding on this. This was even worse under the configuration possibilities are not proper documented. Doctrine is a good example here. The Annotations are described in detail but the YAML not. I’m not sure how this will work out for large development teams when some will start to use YAML others PHP…
  4. Best-Practises are missed too. This is also understandable cause ther is no stable version but I think this is something that will take some time (probably until 2.1 or even 2.2). The biggest problem: Where to put the code? Especially database oriented code.

The flexibilty of Symfony2 is incredible but I have learned the last days that this is a high hurdle to take for a lot of developers. Compared with symfony 1 I think the lack of best practises and convention over configuration is the most time consuming part of getting productive with Symfony2. The new possibilities and features of Symfony2 are awesome and it is interessting to see how good some of the existing Bundles already are.

I have two more Symfony2 trainings coming in the next months. Im excited to how Symfony2 will evolve over the time.



Some seats free for the upcoming german symfony training

There are some seats free for my upcoming german symfony training session (http://bit.ly/adl47z). This training takes place mid-june (16-18th June) in a training center in Heilbronn.

Es sind noch ein paar Plätze für meine kommende offene Symfony-Schulung verfügbar (http://bit.ly/adl47z) Diese findet am 16. bis 18. Juni in einem Trainingszentrum in Heilbronn statt.


German Symfony trainings

Hello all,I just anounced the dates and locations for my german symfony trainings/workshops. The workshops take place in Stuttgart, Hamburg and Berlin. Language of the workshops is german. 
You can find more information and prices at the following training-website
Maybe we can see us at one of these events :-)    

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