Create a PHAR out of a CLI based SF2 app

Most of us use Symfony as a PHP Web Development Framework, but its components can be used in non-web environments, for instance a standalone command line. This article shows how to bootstrap such applications without unneeded libraries (such as EventDispatcher or HttpKernel) and how to package them as a PHAR file for easy redistribution. If you’re unfamiliar with Symfony components, head over

Let’s say we have to create a small mailer - a dummy one without error handling or proper modeling - to send new year whishes through Gmail SMTP. We’ll need :

  • some CLI interactions, handled by symfony/console.
  • A template solution, provided by twig.
  • MIME emailing, done by swiftmailer.
  • A HTML mail template and we’ll use the Ink responsive one done by the fine folks of Zurb.
  • A list of recipients in a CSV file with emails addresses and first names. I already prepared one available here.
  • A Gmail account and its password.

The dependencies will be downloaded using composer. If you’re not familiar with it, I urge you to look at this handy tool which can even be used to download non PHP dependencies. You’ll be able to see the code in the following github repository.

Project initialization

Let’s start by creating the project - we’ll assume we’re using 5.3+ in a *nix environment - and the subdirectories where we’ll put our code in. We’ll abide by PSR-0, PSR-1 and [PSR-2] ( standards.

mkdir ny-mail
cd ny-mail
mkdir -p app src/Greetings/{Command,Parser,Transport}

Create the following composer.json then install dependencies thanks to php composer.phar install. Additionally, replace the name with some twig so our mail template will be look like we’re going to send personalized messages.

php composer.phar install
sed -i "s/Hi, Susan Calvin/Happy new year 2014 /" vendor/zurb/ink-basic/basic.html

Show me the code

As we need to load recipients from a CVS file, let’s create a really simple parser in src/Greetings/Parser/Csv.php.

The creation and sending of the message is done using Swiftmailer, wrapped in the following class to put in src/Greetings/Transport/Gmail.php.

These classes will be used in src/Greetings/Command/GreetingsCommand.php. Since we only have one command, telling its name is not necessary so we’ll remove that need by extending Symfony\Component\Console\Application in src/Greetings/GreetingsApplication which be itself called from the script app/console as shown below.

Voila ! We now have a working mailer that can be used as shown below:

php app/console vendor/zurb/ink-basic/basic.html recipients.csv --username -p CorrectHorseBatteryStaple

PHAR Packaging

PHAR allows us to package a set of files in a single one, which is very convenient if you want to distribute an library or an command line application. If your build process is more complex than just aggregating files, you’ll definitely want to look at composer’s PHAR compiler to create your own. However, if the build is easy you can rely on Box utility, by Kevin Herrera, that will just ask for a simple configuration file. We’ll go for that solution for our CLI application, starting by installing Box at the top directory of our project. You may see a warning like « Notice: The “phar.readonly” setting needs to be off to create Phars. » but we’ll get around that later.

curl -LSs | php

Now let’s create a file box.json - still at the top directory - which will tell Box what files to pick or not, that we have an entry point, name of resulting phar.

    "directories": ["src", "vendor"],
    "blacklist": ["vendor/zurb/ink-basic/basic.html"],
    "stub": true,
    "main": "app/console",
    "output": "greetings.phar"

Just run

php box.phar build

and you should have a greetings.phar. If you had the warning mentioned earlier, you may need to do

php -d phar.readonly=0 box.phar build

You can now redistribute your command which will be called like that :

php greetings.phar template.html recipients.csv --username -p CorrectHorseBatteryStaple

We got there ! If you see things to enhance or have questions on what I described here, feel free to comment below or contact me.

See also