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Plugin architecture with Symfony

Symfony no longer recommends organising your application using bundles, however bundles are still recommended when you want to share features and functions between multiple applications.

This post examines how bundles are also useful to allow the concept of plugins, or extensions, to be registered dynamically with your core application. It uses the scenario of a BankingApp wanting to support many banking backends, or services.

The idea is that we want to be able to register multiple backends dynamically, using composer in the BankingApp, in a BankingService.

At the end, we want to be able to call these services using a simple key, which in this case is a string acme_bank:


One of our backends is called “Acme Bank” and is provided by the Symfony bundle acme-bank-bundle.

It provides the AcmeBankService:

class AcmeBankService implements Bank
    public function deposit(int $amount): string
        return sprintf("Deposited %d into AcmeBank", $amount);

This is registered as a Symfony services in services.php:

    ->tag('banking_app.bank', []);

Importantly the service is tagged with the key banking_app.bank.

We can add the acme-bank-bundle to the BankApp in the usual way, by installing the bundle using composer.

Please be aware, that as these composer packages are not part of a public registry, I have added them as local repositories, you will need to update the path if you want to use them:

"repositories": [
        "type": "path",
        "url": "/home/hs/git/banking-app-api"
        "type": "path",
        "url": "/home/hs/git/acme-bank-bundle"

You can register the bundle in the usual way in BankingApp:

BankingApp\AcmeBankBundle\BankingAppAcmeBankBundle::class => ['all' => true],

Given the service in acme-banking-bundle tagged with banking_app.bank, we can add a compiler pass to the BankingApp application to detect these services and add it to a registry within our BankingService:

$bankServiceDefinition = $containerBuilder->findDefinition(BankService::class);

foreach ($containerBuilder->findTaggedServiceIds('banking_app.bank') as $id => $tags) {
    $bankServiceDefinition->addMethodCall('addBank', [new Reference($id)]);

Firstly, this finds our BankingService, then when it detects that our bundle has tagged a service with banking_app.bank, it will add it to our registry by calling addBank on our BankService:

class BankService
    private array $bankRegistry = [];
    public function addBank(Bank $bank): void 
        $this->bankRegistry[$bank->getName()] = $bank;

If you noticed, in our composer file, I also included a package called banking-app-api, which has the interface Bank:

interface Bank
    public function deposit(int $amount): string;
    public function getName(): string;

The BankingApp and the banking-app-bundle both have a dependency on this interface, so that we can use PHP types. This means that the BankingApp will never end up calling a method that does not exist on our bank service at runtime.

The API has to exist outside of both projects, as if it were defined in the BankingApp, this would introduce a circular dependency, as the acme-bank-bundle becomes dependent on the BankingApp and the BankingApp has a dependency on the acme-bank-bundle.

Finally, we can use our BankService in the HomeController in BankingApp:

public function home(BankService $bankService) {
    return new Response($bankService->getBank('acme_bank')->deposit(100));

This returns:

 Deposited 100 into AcmeBank

In this case, the acme_bank could be a key that is stored in a database, associated with that user. The bank’s name comes from a further method we have defined in our API:

 public function getName(): string;

This is a simple example, however all the infrastructure is there to build out more complex systems, for example, you could initiate an OAuth flow using another method in the API:

 public function getOAuthLink(string $userId): string;

You could iterate over your bank registry and display this link for each of the banking_app.bank services that have been registered.