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The Twig Extensions Library

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Let's bring this section to life by listing all of the comments in the system. Ah man, with all our tools, this is going to be really easy! First, to query for the comments, add the CommentRepository $repository argument:

23 lines src/Controller/CommentAdminController.php
... lines 1 - 4
use App\Repository\CommentRepository;
... lines 6 - 8
class CommentAdminController extends Controller
{
/**
* @Route("/admin/comment", name="comment_admin")
*/
public function index(CommentRepository $repository)
{
... lines 16 - 20
}
}

Then, $comments = $repository->, and we could use findAll(), but I'll use findBy() passing this an empty array, then 'createdAt' => 'DESC' so that we get the newest comments on top:

23 lines src/Controller/CommentAdminController.php
... lines 1 - 8
class CommentAdminController extends Controller
{
/**
* @Route("/admin/comment", name="comment_admin")
*/
public function index(CommentRepository $repository)
{
$comments = $repository->findBy([], ['createdAt' => 'DESC']);
... lines 17 - 20
}
}

Clear out the render() variables: we only need to pass one: comments set to $comments:

23 lines src/Controller/CommentAdminController.php
... lines 1 - 8
class CommentAdminController extends Controller
{
/**
* @Route("/admin/comment", name="comment_admin")
*/
public function index(CommentRepository $repository)
{
$comments = $repository->findBy([], ['createdAt' => 'DESC']);
return $this->render('comment_admin/index.html.twig', [
'comments' => $comments,
]);
}
}

Perfect! Next, to the template! Below the h1, I'll paste the beginning of a table that has some Bootstrap classes and headers for the article name, author, the comment itself and when it was created:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
<thead>
<tr>
<th>Article</th>
<th>Author</th>
<th>Comment</th>
<th>Created</th>
</tr>
</thead>
<tbody>
... lines 22 - 39
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

No problem! In the tbody, let's loop: for comment in comments, and {% endfor %}:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
<thead>
<tr>
<th>Article</th>
<th>Author</th>
<th>Comment</th>
<th>Created</th>
</tr>
</thead>
<tbody>
{% for comment in comments %}
... lines 23 - 38
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

Add the <tr>, then let's print some data! In the first td, we need the article name. But, to make it more awesome, let's make this a link to the article. Add the a tag with href="", but keep that blank for a moment. Inside, hmm, we have a Comment object, but we want to print the article's title. No problem! We can use our relationship: comment.article - that gets us to the Article object - then .title.

For the href, use the path() function from Twig. Here, we need the name of the route that we want to link to. Open ArticleController. Ah! There it is: name="article_show:

65 lines src/Controller/ArticleController.php
... lines 1 - 13
class ArticleController extends AbstractController
{
... lines 16 - 37
/**
* @Route("/news/{slug}", name="article_show")
*/
public function show(Article $article, SlackClient $slack)
{
... lines 43 - 49
}
... lines 51 - 63
}

Close that and, back in the template, use article_show. This route needs a slug parameter so add that, set to comment.article.slug:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
<thead>
<tr>
<th>Article</th>
<th>Author</th>
<th>Comment</th>
<th>Created</th>
</tr>
</thead>
<tbody>
{% for comment in comments %}
<tr>
<td>
<a href="{{ path('article_show', {'slug': comment.article.slug}) }}">
{{ comment.article.title }}
</a>
</td>
... lines 29 - 37
</tr>
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

Dang, those relationships are handy!

Let's keep going! Add another td and print comment.authorName:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
... lines 13 - 20
<tbody>
{% for comment in comments %}
<tr>
<td>
<a href="{{ path('article_show', {'slug': comment.article.slug}) }}">
{{ comment.article.title }}
</a>
</td>
<td>
{{ comment.authorName }}
</td>
... lines 32 - 37
</tr>
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

Give the next td a style="width: 20%" so it doesn't get too big. Then, print comment.content:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
... lines 13 - 20
<tbody>
{% for comment in comments %}
<tr>
<td>
<a href="{{ path('article_show', {'slug': comment.article.slug}) }}">
{{ comment.article.title }}
</a>
</td>
<td>
{{ comment.authorName }}
</td>
<td style="width: 20%;">
{{ comment.content }}
</td>
... lines 35 - 37
</tr>
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

Finally, add a td with comment.createdAt|ago:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
... lines 13 - 20
<tbody>
{% for comment in comments %}
<tr>
<td>
<a href="{{ path('article_show', {'slug': comment.article.slug}) }}">
{{ comment.article.title }}
</a>
</td>
<td>
{{ comment.authorName }}
</td>
<td style="width: 20%;">
{{ comment.content }}
</td>
<td>
{{ comment.createdAt|ago }}
</td>
</tr>
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

Cool! Let's see if we made any mistakes. Find your browser, refresh and... boom! A big, beautiful list of all of the comments on the site. Oh, but eventually on production, this will be a huge number of results. Let's put it on our todo list to add pagination.

The N+1 Query Problem

Hmm, it works, but check out the web debug toolbar: 11 queries. This is that same annoying N+1 problem that we talked about earlier. The first query is the one we expect: SELECT all of the comments from the system. But, as we loop over each comment and fetch data from its related article, an extra query is made to get that data.

Like, this query fetches the data for article id 181, this does the same for article id 186, and so on. We get 11 queries because we have 1 query for the comments and 10 more queries for the 10 related articles.

Hence, the N+1 problem: 10 related object plus the 1 original query. So, the question is, how can we solve this, right? Well, actually, a better question is: should we solve this? Here's the point: you need to be aware of the fact that Doctrine's nice relationship lazy-loading magic makes it easy to accidentally make many queries on a page. But, it is not something that you always need to solve. Why? Well, a lot of times, having 10 extra queries - especially on an admin page - is no big deal! On the other hand, maybe 100 extra queries on your homepage, well, that probably is a problem. As I always like to say, deploy first, then see where you have problems. Using a tool like Blackfire.io makes it very easy to find real issues.

Anyways, we will learn how to fix this in a few minutes. But, ignore it for now.

Installing Twig Extensions

Because... we have a minor, but more immediate problem: some comments will probably be pretty long. So, printing the entire comment will become a problem. What I really want to do is show some sort of preview, maybe the first 30 characters of a comment.

Hmm, can Twig do that? Go to twig.symfony.com and click on the Documentation. Huh, there is actually not a filter or function that can do this! We could easily add one, but instead, search for "Twig extensions" and click on the href="http://twig-extensions.readthedocs.io/en/latest/">documentation for some Twig extensions library.

We know that if we need to create a custom Twig function or filter, we create a class called a Twig extension. We did it in an earlier tutorial. But this is something different: this is an open source library called "Twig Extensions". It's simply a collection of pre-made, useful, Twig extension classes. Nice!

For example, one Twig extension - called Text - has a filter called truncate! Bingo! That's exactly what we need. Click on the "Text" extension's documentation, then click the link to install it. Perfect! Copy that composer require line.

Then, find your terminal and, paste!

composer require twig/extensions

Activating the Twig Extension

While we're waiting for this to install, I want to point out something important: we're installing a PHP library, not a Symfony bundle. What's the difference? Well, a PHP library simply contains classes, but does not automatically integrate into your app. Most importantly, this means that while this library will give us some Twig extension PHP classes, it will not register those as services or make our Twig service aware of them. We will need to configure things by hand.

Go back to the terminal and, oh! Let's play a thrilling game of Pong while we wait. Go left side, go left side, go! Boooo!

Anyways, ooh! This installed a recipe! I committed my changes before I started recording. So let's run:

git status

to see what changed. Beyond the normal Composer files and symfony.lock, the recipe created a new file: config/packages/twig_extensions.yaml. Ah, go check it out!

11 lines config/packages/twig_extensions.yaml
services:
_defaults:
public: false
autowire: true
autoconfigure: true
#Twig\Extensions\ArrayExtension: ~
#Twig\Extensions\DateExtension: ~
#Twig\Extensions\IntlExtension: ~
#Twig\Extensions\TextExtension: ~

Nice! As we just talked about, the library simply gives us the extension classes, but it does not register them as services. So, to make life easier, the Flex recipe for the library gives us the exact configuration we need to finish the job! Here, we can activate the extensions by uncommenting the ones we need:

11 lines config/packages/twig_extensions.yaml
services:
_defaults:
public: false
autowire: true
autoconfigure: true
... lines 6 - 9
Twig\Extensions\TextExtension: ~

Actually - because knowledge is power! - there are a few things going on. Thanks to the Twig\Extensions\TwigExtension: ~ part, that class becomes registered as as service. Remember: each class in the src/ directory is automatically registered as a service. But because this class lives in vendor/, we need to register it by hand. Oh, and the ~ means null: it means we don't need to configure this service in any special way. For example, we don't need to configure any arguments.

Second, thanks to the _defaults section on top, specifically autoconfigure, Symfony notices this is a Twig Extension by its interface, and automatically notifies the Twig service about it, without us needing to do anything.

All of this means that in index.html.twig, we can now immediately add |truncate:

45 lines templates/comment_admin/index.html.twig
... lines 1 - 6
{% block content_body %}
<div class="row">
<div class="col-sm-12">
<h1>Manage Comments</h1>
<table class="table table-striped">
... lines 13 - 20
<tbody>
{% for comment in comments %}
<tr>
... lines 24 - 31
<td style="width: 20%;">
{{ comment.content|truncate }}
</td>
... lines 35 - 37
</tr>
{% endfor %}
</tbody>
</table>
</div>
</div>
{% endblock %}

In fact, before we even try it, go back to your terminal and run:

php bin/console debug:twig

This nice little tool shows us all of the functions, filters and other goodies that exist in Twig. And, ha! We now have a filter called truncate!

So, try it: find your browser, go back to the Manage Comments page, and refresh! It's perfect! Oh, and don't forget about the other cool stuff this Twig Extensions library has, like Intl for date or number formatting and, actually, Date, which coincidentally has a time_diff filter that works like our ago filter.

Next! Let's add a search form to the comment admin page.

Leave a comment!

  • 2018-05-11 Victor Bocharsky

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks for sharing this with others!

    Cheers!

  • 2018-05-11 Matt Johnson

    FYI for anyone doing this who runs into:

    The intl extension is needed to use intl-based filters.

    You'll have to install the php-intl package. On Ubuntu with PHP7.2 it's:

    $ apt-get install php7.2-intl