A forgiving command loader for Symfony Console

This article summaries a solution to the problem of calling and listing commands in Symfony Console when at least one of the commands is not instantiable.

The problem

By default, Symfony will instantiate all your application’s commands when initialising. If just one of the commands fails to initialize, the entire application will fail — even when executing a command that works fine.

Ordinarily, this shouldn’t be a problem. After all, classes should be instantiable, shouldn’t they? But, in my work at Funeral Zone, we have a use-case of a console application that sits in multiple microservices. Some of the commands in the application are reliant on environment variables (such as database credentials) that are not necessary for all microservices. This means, on a microservice that doesn’t require a database, the database related commands can’t initialize — and they bring down the rest of the console application with them!

Command loading

The solution is what Symfony calls ‘lazy loading’. This is simply retrieving the commands from the IoC container using a ‘command loader’. Symfony Console conveniently provides us with a CommandLoaderInterface and a ContainerCommandLoader implementation.

$consoleApp = new ConsoleApplication;
new ContainerCommandLoader($iocContainer, [
'command:one' => CommandOne::class,
'command:two' => ComamndTwo::class,

When the console application executes a command…

php console.php command:one

The CommandOne command will be retrieved from the IoC container. If it fails, this does not stop CommandTwo from being loaded — because the commands are only loaded when executed.

Remaining problem of listing

So far, we’ve solved the problem of non-instantiable commands blocking all other commands. However, listing (php console.php list) all of the console application’s commands is still not possible if just one of the commands is not instantiable.

This Symfony documentation confirms that:

Calling the list command will instantiate all commands, including lazy commands.

The solution to this is what I’ve termed a ‘forgiving command loader’. I’ve published it on GitHub. It requires another CommandLoaderInterface to be injected into it. Then, using the composition principle, it proxies the internal loader. If it encounters an exception when loading a command, it returns a placeholder command. It sets the description of the placeholder command to ‘** Could not load’. This way, you can still list all the commands in your application.

php console.php list
Available commands:
command:one Our first command
command:two ** Could not load
command:three Our third command
command:four Our fourth command

If you try to execute command:two you will receive the exception that was originally caught when loading.