Deployment to a production server

May 10, 2023 MrAnyx 11 min to read

In this part, we will see the different important steps to follow when putting a Symfony application in production. The steps we will follow are not only applicable to an API but can also be applied to the production of a website.

To perform these steps, we will use the AlwaysData service. This one proposes a free offer of 100Mb including PHP and MySQL hosting, it is thus ideal for our API. This service allows us to quickly test an application in a production environment for free.

Create an account

If you already have an account on AlwaysData, you can proceed to the next step.

First, you will need to create a free account in order to access the service. To do this, go to the registration page and then follow the instructions to create your account. This should not take more than a minute.

Choose your offer

Once your account is created, you should be redirected to the next page asking you to choose your offer. In our case, we will choose the free offer with 100MB of storage.

We will then enter a name for our project and a password that will be used for the database, FTP and SSH access.

If you already have an account, just go to the Custom Area section, then Accounts and click on the Add account button. You will only have to enter the information we just mentioned.

File transfer

In order for our API to work on the remote server, we will have to send the different files we have created during development. To do this, we will use the FTP protocol. To make it easier for us, we are going to use Filezilla (If you use another FTP transfer software, you can use it, the configuration will be similar).

First of all, we will have to connect to the server. To do this, we will have to get some connection information that AlwaysData should give us.

Let's start with the address of the FTP server. To get it, go to the Remote Access section and then FTP. At the top of the page, you should see the address in question. It should look like this:

As for the username and password, this is simply the information you filled in earlier. The username will be in lower case.

If you are asked for a port number, enter port 21, this is the port for the FTP protocol.

Once connected to the server, we will just have to transfer the files. First, open the www folder located on the right side of the window. You should see an index.html file. You can leave it for now.

Now just drag and drop the project files from your computer to the www folder on the server.

To avoid the transfer taking too long, be sure not to transfer the vendor and var folders. These can be regenerated later on the server.

You should now see all the files in the lower right-hand corner.

Checking the versions

Before continuing, we will have to make sure that the versions of the languages correspond to the ones we use locally.

Actually, we only need to check the version of PHP as it is the only language we use. To do this, go to the Environment section and check the version indicated for PHP. This should be a version 8.1. Take for example the last available version which starts with 8.1, for my part, it is 8.1.17.

Then click the Submit button at the bottom of the page to save.

Project configuration

As for the transfer of files via FTP, we will have to connect to the server via the SSH protocol thanks to the login to continue the configuration of the server and our project.

SSH account configuration

First of all, we'll need to modify the existing SSH user so that we can connect with it.

In the Remote Access section, then SSH, we will click on the edit icon for the symfonyapi user.

We will then check the box to allow the connection with password.

Then click Submit to save the changes.

Now we can connect to the server using this user. There are two possible methods:

  • Use the web version of the terminal
  • Use an external terminal on your computer that supports the SSH protocol like Git Bash

For my part, I will use the second option but both are possible.

If you want to connect through the web version, just click on the web link in the Remote Access section and then SSH.

You will then have to enter the desired user name : symfonyapi and the password.

Si vous souhaitez utiliser un terminal externe, il suffit d’entrer la commande suivante : ssh puis de renseigner le mot de passe.

Installing Composer

Although Composer is available on the server, it is version 1. This version will cause problems when installing the libraries. We will have to install version 2.

We can check which version of composer is currently used on the server by running the following command.

composer -v

If the displayed version is 2.x.x, we're good. But if the displayed version is 1.x.x, then we'll have to install version 2.

To do this, go to the root of our project which should be in the /home/symfonyapi/www directory. To change directory and go there, run the following command.

cd ~/www

Then, we will simply follow the instructions proposed in the documentation of Composer. Thus, as indicated, to install Composer, we will execute the following commands.

php -r "copy('', 'composer-setup.php');"
php -r "if (hash_file('sha384', 'composer-setup.php') === '55ce33d7678c5a611085589f1f3ddf8b3c52d662cd01d4ba75c0ee0459970c2200a51f492d557530c71c15d8dba01eae') { echo 'Installer verified'; } else { echo 'Installer corrupt'; unlink('composer-setup.php'); } echo PHP_EOL;"
php composer-setup.php
php -r "unlink('composer-setup.php');"

Let's check that the version installed is version 2.

php composer.phar -v

Now the version should be 2.x.x. This is perfect.

If the version displayed is still 1.x.x, simply run the command php composer.phar self-update --2. This will update Composer to version 2.

Installation of dependencies

As for our local project, we will use Composer to manage and install the libraries necessary for our project to work.

To install the dependencies, we will run the following command.

php composer.phar install

Entry point configuration

By default, the entry point of our application is the www directory, which corresponds to our entire project. We will have to modify this value so that the server uses the directory www/public as entry point.

Indeed, if we go to the url of the project, we see the default page.

To change the entry point, go to the Web section and then Sites, then click on the settings icon for the site in question.

In the Configuration part, we'll change the Root directory field to /www/public and then click Submit at the bottom of the page.

Now, if we update the project url, we should see a Symfony page.

Creating the database

First of all, we will have to create the database that will contain all our data.

To do this, go to the Databases section and then MySQL. In the Databases tab, click on the Add Database button

In the form, displayed, fill in the name of the database. For example, put the name symfonyapi_db.

Then check that in the Permissions section, the All Rights option is selected. This way the user 312455 will be able to read and write to the database.

Then confirm by clicking on the Submit button.

Setting up the environment variables

We will now take care of the environment variables located in the .env file. Indeed, the variables in these files correspond to our development environment and not to the production one.

First of all, we will modify the .env file based on the development file. To do this, in your terminal, run the command :

cp .env.local .env

Then, we will modify its content to change the APP_ENV variable as well as the DATABASE_URL variable.

To do this, we will use the nano command.

nano .env

Then, we will fill in the following content.

# .env

###> symfony/framework-bundle ###
###< symfony/framework-bundle ###

###> doctrine/doctrine-bundle ###
###< doctrine/doctrine-bundle ###

Don't forget to replace the value of the fields db_user, db_password, db_host, db_port and db_name with your values.

  • You will find the user name in the Databases section and then MySQL. Then you just have to click on the Users tab.

  • Concerning the db_password field, it is the password you have filled in when creating the project on AlwaysData.
  • As for the db_host field, it is simply the url of the database server proposed by AlwaysData. This url is available in the section Databases then MySQL.

  • For db_port, it is port 3306
  • Finally, for the db_name field, we will fill in the name we gave when creating the database (symfonyapi_db)

You may need to change the version of MariaDB via the serverVersion field in the DATABASE_URL variable. To find this value, you will have to go to the PhpMyAdmin tool offered by AlwaysData. In the section Databases then MySQL, click on phpmyadmin. Then, enter the user name and the password of the user for the database.

You will then find the MariaDB version on the right side for the Server Version field.

You will also need to prefix the version with mariadb- which will give serverVersion=mariadb-10.6.

Finally, we will delete the .env.local and .env.test files as they no longer make sense in this environment.

rm .env.local .env.test

Creation of the tables

To create the different tables, we will use the migrations that were created during the development.

php bin/console doctrine:migrations:migrate

Or simply

php bin/console d:m:m

Creating fake data

Once again, we will use the same procedure as in development. To create fake data, we will use the DataFixtures.

php bin/console doctrine:fixtures:load

Or simply

php bin/console d:f:l

Unfortunately, this command does not work in a production environment. To correct this problem, we will temporarily switch back to dev mode in the .env file.

nano .env

Then modify the APP_ENV variable.


Now, if we run the command again

php bin/console d:f:l

This should work. We now have our tables and a dataset. We can check this by going to the phpmyadmin interface.

All that remains is to switch back to the production environment by modifying the .env file and setting the APP_ENV variable back to prod.

Apache configuration

Now, if we update the url of our project and try to go to one of the url like /api/todos, we notice that a 404 Not Found page is generated.

This problem is simply due to a lack of configuration with Apache.

To fix this problem, we will install a last library on the server: symfony/apache-pack. As indicated in the documentation, this library allows to enable URL rewriting or to redirect all requests to the index.php file located in the public folder of the project.

Like all the other libraries, we will install it by running the following command.

php composer.phar require symfony/apache-pack

You will then be asked a question: Do you want to execute this recipe? Click y to accept.

Now, if we update the project url and go to /api/todos, we see our data.

With Postman, we can also test other routes for security

For example, for the /api/todos route with the POST method, if the X-AUTH-TOKEN header is not filled in, a 401 error is returned.

In summary

That's it, you have successfully put in production an API using Symfony.

In this lesson, we have the main steps to put a Symfony project in production. We have reviewed the database configuration, the server configuration, the SSH and FTP accounts, ...

Finally, the process to put a Symfony application in production is very often similar.

  • File transfer
  • Database configuration
  • Change of environment variables
  • Launching migrations to create tables
  • (Optional) Creating a dataset
  • Installing the symfony/apache-pack library

These steps will often be the same.

This work is made available under the terms of the license Licence Creative Commons