Symfony2: Manipulating Service Parameters and Definitions

In my previous post I looked at Symfony2 Service Container Compiler Passes, in this post I will look at how to manipulate service container parameters and definitions from within a compiler pass.

So the important method of the compiler pass which gets called when the container is being built is the process method which looks like this:

In this method we can work with the passed in container which has been set up with parameters and service definitions from the various configuration files.

Getting and Setting Container Parameters

Working with container parameters is straight forward using the container’s accessor methods for parameters. You can check if a parameter has been defined in the container with

You can retrieve parameters set in the container with:

and set a parameter in the container with:

Getting and Setting Service Definitions

There are also some helpful methods of the passed in container builder for working with the service definitions.

To find out if there is a definition for a service id:

This is useful if you only want to do something if a particular definition exists. In my previous post I looked at an example from the AsseticBundle where a parameter was required only if a particular service has defined so hasDefinition() was used to check for the service definition before checking if the parameter was set. Here it is again:

You can retrieve a definition with


which unlike getDefinition() also resolves aliases so if the $serviceId argument is an alias you will get the underlying definition.

The service definitions themselves are objects so if you retrieve a definition with these methods and make changes to it these will be reflected in the container. If, however, you are creating a new definition then you can add it to the container using:

Working with a definition

Creating a new definition

If you need to create a new definition rather than manipulate one retrieved from then container then the definition class is SymfonyComponentDependencyInjectionDefinition.


First up is the class of a definition, this is the class of the object returned when the service is requested from the container.

You may want to change the class used by a definition, if for example there is functionality which can only be used if a service from another bundle exists then you may have a class which make use of that other service and one that does not. The one that does not could be used for the service and then the one with the extra functionality swapped in using a compiler pass if the other service is available.

To find out what class is set for a definition:

and to set a different class:

Constructor Arguments

To get an array of the constructor arguments for a definition you can use

or to get a single argument by its position

You can add a new argument to the end of the arguments array using

The argument can be a string, an array, a service parameter by using '%paramater_name%' or a service id by using

In a similar way you can replace an already set argument by index using:

You can also replace all the arguments (or set some if there are none) with an array of arguments

Method Calls

If the service you are working with uses setter injection then you can manipulate any method calls in the definitions as well.

You can get an array of all the method calls with:

Add a method call with:

Where $method is the method name and $arguments is an array of the arguments to call the method with. The arguments can be strings, arrays, parameters or service ids as with the constructor arguments.

You can also replace any existing method calls with an array of new ones with:

Wrapping Up

The methods available then are the same ones that can be used to configure the container in the first place and which are shown in the Symfony2 documentation along with the XML and YAML ways you may be more familiar with. You would usually want to use config files rather than directly creating the definitions when setting the container up. In compiler passes you need to use these methods for making changes to the service definitions.

I have only looked at the more common methods of the definition object here, you can see some more available methods, by looking at the relevant docs e.g. How to Use a Factory to Create Services and looking at the PHP tab in the examples. Bear in mind the place of compiler passes in the process of building the service container though, for example, if you add a tag to a definition in a compiler pass, but the pass that looks for those tags has already run, then it will have no effect.

If there is one thing to take away from this post, it is that if you dislike writing YAML or XML configs for services then just be glad you can and you do not have to write all the definitions this way 🙂