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23. Security

23.1. User management

By default, the SonataAdminBundle does not come with any user management, however it is most likely the application requires such feature. The Sonata Project includes a SonataUserBundle which integrates the FOSUserBundle.

The FOSUserBundle adds support for a database-backed user system in Symfony2. It provides a flexible framework for user management that aims to handle common tasks such as user login, registration and password retrieval.

The SonataUserBundle is just a thin wrapper to include the FOSUserBundle into the AdminBundle. The SonataUserBundle includes:

  • A default login area
  • A default user_block template which is used to display the current user and the logout link
  • 2 Admin classes: User and Group
  • A default class for User and Group.

There is a little magic in the SonataAdminBundle: if the bundle detects the SonataUserBundle class, then the default user_block template will be changed to use the one provided by the SonataUserBundle.

The install process is available on the dedicated SonataUserBundle’s documentation area.

23.2. Security handlers

The security part is managed by a SecurityHandler, the bundle comes with 3 handlers

  • ROLES to handle permissions
  • ACL and ROLES to handle permissions
  • always returns true, can be used with the Symfony2 firewall

The default value is, if you want to change the default value you can set the security_handler to or

To quickly secure an admin the role security can be used. It allows to specify the actions a user can with the admin. The ACL security system is more advanced and allows to secure the objects. For people using the previous ACL implementation, you can switch the security_handler to the role security handler.

23.2.1. Configuration

Only the security handler is required to determine which type of security to use. The other parameters are set as default, change them if needed.

Using roles:

  • YAML
    # app/config/config.yml

Using ACL:

  • YAML
    # app/config/config.yml
            # acl security information
                GUEST:    [VIEW, LIST]
                STAFF:    [EDIT, LIST, CREATE]
                EDITOR:   [OPERATOR, EXPORT]
                ADMIN:    [MASTER]
            # permissions not related to an object instance and also to be available when objects do not exist
            # the DELETE admin permission means the user is allowed to batch delete objects
            admin_permissions: [CREATE, LIST, DELETE, UNDELETE, EXPORT, OPERATOR, MASTER]
            # permission related to the objects
            object_permissions: [VIEW, EDIT, DELETE, UNDELETE, OPERATOR, MASTER, OWNER]

Later, we will explain how to set up ACL with the FriendsOfSymfony/UserBundle.

23.3. Role handler

The allows you to operate finely on the actions that can be done (depending on the entity class), without requiring to set up ACL.

23.3.1. Configuration

First, activate the role security handler as described above.

Each time an user tries to do an action in the admin, Sonata checks if he is either a super admin (ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN) or has the permission.

The permissions are:

  • LIST: view the list of objects
  • VIEW: view the detail of one object
  • CREATE: create a new object
  • EDIT: update an existing object
  • DELETE: delete an existing object
  • EXPORT (for the native Sonata export links)

Each permission is relative to an admin: if you try to get a list in FooAdmin (declared as service), Sonata will check if the user has the ROLE_SONATA_ADMIN_DEMO_FOO_EDIT role.

So our security.yml file may look to something like this:

  • YAML
    # app/config/security.yml
            # for convenience, I decided to gather Sonata roles here
            # those are the roles I will use (less verbose)
        # set access_strategy to unanimous, else you may have unexpected behaviors
            strategy: unanimous

Note that we also set access_strategy to unanimous. It means that if one voter (for example Sonata) refuses access, access will be denied. For more information on this subject, please see changing the access decision strategy in the Symfony documentation.

23.3.2. Usage

You can now test if an user is authorized from an Admin class:

if ($this->isGranted('LIST')) {

From a controller extending Sonata\AdminBundle\Controller\CRUDController:

if ($this->admin->isGranted('LIST')) {

Or from a Twig template:

{% if is_granted('VIEW') %}
    <p>Hello there!</p>
{% endif %}

Note that you don’t have to re-specify the prefix.

Sonata check those permissions for the action it handles internally. Of course you will have to recheck them in your own code.

Yon can also create your own permissions, for example EMAIL (which will turn into role ROLE_SONATA_ADMIN_DEMO_FOO_EMAIL).

23.3.3. Going further

Because Sonata role handler supplements Symfony2 security, but does not override it, you are free to do more advanced operations. For example, you can create your own voter

23.3.4. Customizing the handler behavior

If you want to change the handler behavior (for example, to pass the current object to voters), extend Sonata\AdminBundle\Security\Handler\RoleSecurityHandler, and override the isGranted method.

Then declare your handler as a service:

  • XML
        <parameter key="" >Acme\DemoBundle\Security\Handler\RoleSecurityHandler</parameter>
        <service id="" class="" public="false">
            <argument type="service" id="security.context" on-invalid="null" />
            <argument type="collection">

And specify it as Sonata security handler on your configuration:

  • YAML
    # app/config/config.yml

23.4. ACL and FriendsOfSymfony/UserBundle

If you want an easy way to handle users, please use:

  • FOSUserBundle: handle users and groups stored in RDMS or MongoDB
  • SonataUserBundle: integrates the FriendsOfSymfony/UserBundle with the AdminBundle

The security integration is a work in progress and has some known issues:

  • ACL permissions are immutables
  • A listener must be implemented that creates the object Access Control List with the required rules if objects are created outside the Admin

23.4.1. Configuration

Before you can use FriendsOfSymfony/FOSUserBundle you need to set it up as described in the documentation of the bundle. In step 4 you need to create a User class (in a custom UserBundle). Do it as follows:


namespace Acme\UserBundle\Entity;

use Sonata\UserBundle\Entity\BaseUser as BaseUser;
use Doctrine\ORM\Mapping as ORM;

 * @ORM\Entity
 * @ORM\Table(name="fos_user")
class User extends BaseUser
     * @ORM\Id
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue(strategy="AUTO")
    protected $id;

    public function __construct()
        // your own logic

In your app/config/config.yml you then need to put the following:

  • YAML
        db_driver: orm
        firewall_name: main
        user_class: Acme\UserBundle\Entity\User

The following configuration for the SonataUserBundle defines:

  • the FriendsOfSymfony/FOSUserBundle as a security provider
  • the login form for authentication
  • the access control: resources with related required roles, the important part is the admin configuration
  • the acl option to enable the ACL.
  • the AdminPermissionMap defines the permissions of the Admin class
  • YAML
    # app/config/security.yml
        # ... other parameters Sonata\AdminBundle\Security\Acl\Permission\AdminPermissionMap
        # optionally use a custom MaskBuilder Sonata\AdminBundle\Security\Acl\Permission\MaskBuilder

In app/config/security.yml:

  • YAML
    # app/config/security.yml
                id: fos_user.user_manager
                pattern:      .*
                    provider:       fos_userbundle
                    login_path:     /login
                    use_forward:    false
                    check_path:     /login_check
                    failure_path:   null
                logout:       true
                anonymous:    true
            # The WDT has to be allowed to anonymous users to avoid requiring the login with the AJAX request
            - { path: ^/wdt/, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/profiler/, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            # AsseticBundle paths used when using the controller for assets
            - { path: ^/js/, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/css/, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            # URL of FOSUserBundle which need to be available to anonymous users
            - { path: ^/login$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/login_check$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY } # for the case of a failed login
            - { path: ^/user/new$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/check-confirmation-email$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/confirm/, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/confirmed$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/request-reset-password$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/send-resetting-email$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/check-resetting-email$, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            - { path: ^/user/reset-password/, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            # Secured part of the site
            # This config requires being logged for the whole site and having the admin role for the admin part.
            # Change these rules to adapt them to your needs
            - { path: ^/admin/, role: ROLE_ADMIN }
            - { path: ^/.*, role: IS_AUTHENTICATED_ANONYMOUSLY }
            connection: default
  • Install the ACL tables php app/console init:acl
  • Create a new root user:
# php app/console fos:user:create --super-admin
    Please choose a username:root
    Please choose an
    Please choose a password:root
    Created user root

If you have Admin classes, you can install or update the related CRUD ACL rules:

# php app/console sonata:admin:setup-acl
Starting ACL AdminBundle configuration
> install ACL for
   - add role: ROLE_SONATA_MEDIA_ADMIN_MEDIA_GUEST, permissions: ["VIEW","LIST"]
   - add role: ROLE_SONATA_MEDIA_ADMIN_MEDIA_STAFF, permissions: ["EDIT","LIST","CREATE"]
   - add role: ROLE_SONATA_MEDIA_ADMIN_MEDIA_ADMIN, permissions: ["MASTER"]
... skipped ...

If you already have objects, you can generate the object ACL rules for each object of an admin:

$ php app/console sonata:admin:generate-object-acl

Optionally, you can specify an object owner, and step through each admin. See the help of the command for more information.

If you try to access to the admin class you should see the login form, just log in with the root user.

An Admin is displayed in the dashboard (and menu) when the user has the role LIST. To change this override the showIn method in the Admin class.

23.4.2. Roles and Access control lists

A user can have several roles when working with an application. Each Admin class has several roles, and each role specifies the permissions of the user for the Admin class. Or more specifically, what the user can do with the domain object(s) the Admin class is created for.

By default each Admin class contains the following roles, override the property $securityInformation to change this:


    a guest that is allowed to VIEW an object and a LIST of objects;


    probably the biggest part of the users, a staff user has the same permissions as guests and is additionally allowed to EDIT and CREATE new objects;


    an editor is granted all access and, compared to the staff users, is allowed to DELETE;


    an administrative user is granted all access and on top of that, the user is allowed to grant other users access.


  • when an object is created, the currently logged in user is set as owner for that object and is granted all access for that object;
  • this means the user owning the object is always allowed to DELETE the object, even when it only has the staff role.

Vocabulary used for Access Control Lists:

  • Role: a user role;

  • ACL: a list of access rules, the Admin uses 2 types:

  • Admin ACL: created from the Security information of the Admin class for each admin and shares the Access Control Entries that specify what the user can do (permissions) with the admin

  • Object ACL: also created from the security information of the Admin class however created for each object, it uses 2 scopes:

    • Class-Scope: the class scope contains the rules that are valid for all object of a certain class;
    • Object-Scope: specifies the owner;
  • Sid: Security identity, an ACL role for the Class-Scope ACL and the user for the Object-Scope ACL;

  • Oid: Object identity, identifies the ACL, for the admin ACL this is the admin code, for the object ACL this is the object id;

  • ACE: a role (or sid) and its permissions;

  • Permission: this tells what the user is allowed to do with the Object identity;

  • Bitmask: a permission can have several bitmasks, each bitmask represents a permission. When permission VIEW is requested and it contains the VIEW and EDIT bitmask and the user only has the EDIT permission, then the permission VIEW is granted.

  • PermissionMap: configures the bitmasks for each permission, to change the default mapping create a voter for the domain class of the Admin.

    There can be many voters that may have different permission maps. However, prevent that multiple voters vote on the same class with overlapping bitmasks.

See the cookbook article “Advanced ACL concepts” for the meaning of the different permissions.

23.4.3. How is access granted?

In the application the security context is asked if access is granted for a role or a permission (admin.isGranted):

  • Token: a token identifies a user between requests;
  • Voter: sort of judge that returns if access is granted of denied, if the voter should not vote for a case, it returns abstrain;
  • AccessDecisionManager: decides if access is granted or denied according a specific strategy. It grants access if at least one (affirmative strategy), all (unanimous strategy) or more then half (consensus strategy) of the counted votes granted access;
  • RoleVoter: votes for all attributes stating with ROLE_ and grants access if the user has this role;
  • RoleHierarchieVoter: when the role ROLE_SONATA_ADMIN is voted for, it also votes “granted” if the user has the role ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN;
  • AclVoter: grants access for the permissions of the Admin class if the user has the permission, the user has a permission that is included in the bitmasks of the permission requested to vote for or the user owns the object.

23.4.4. Create a custom voter or a custom permission map

In some occasions you need to create a custom voter or a custom permission map because for example you want to restrict access using extra rules:

  • create a custom voter class that extends the AclVoter

    namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Security\Authorization\Voter;
    use FOS\UserBundle\Model\UserInterface;
    use Symfony\Component\Security\Core\Authentication\Token\TokenInterface;
    use Symfony\Component\Security\Acl\Voter\AclVoter;
    class UserAclVoter extends AclVoter
        * {@InheritDoc}
        public function supportsClass($class)
            // support the Class-Scope ACL for votes with the custom permission map
            // return $class === 'Sonata\UserBundle\Admin\Entity\UserAdmin' || $is_subclass_of($class, 'FOS\UserBundle\Model\UserInterface');
            // if you use php >=5.3.7 you can check the inheritance with is_a($class, 'Sonata\UserBundle\Admin\Entity\UserAdmin');
            // support the Object-Scope ACL
            return is_subclass_of($class, 'FOS\UserBundle\Model\UserInterface');
        public function supportsAttribute($attribute)
            return $attribute === 'EDIT' || $attribute === 'DELETE';
        public function vote(TokenInterface $token, $object, array $attributes)
            if (!$this->supportsClass(get_class($object))) {
                return self::ACCESS_ABSTAIN;
            foreach ($attributes as $attribute) {
                if ($this->supportsAttribute($attribute) && $object instanceof UserInterface) {
                    if ($object->isSuperAdmin() && !$token->getUser()->isSuperAdmin()) {
                        // deny a non super admin user to edit a super admin user
                        return self::ACCESS_DENIED;
            // use the parent vote with the custom permission map:
            // return parent::vote($token, $object, $attributes);
            // otherwise leave the permission voting to the AclVoter that is using the default permission map
            return self::ACCESS_ABSTAIN;
  • optionally create a custom permission map, copy to start the Sonata\AdminBundle\Security\Acl\Permission\AdminPermissionMap.php to your bundle

  • declare the voter and permission map as a service

    • XML
      <!-- src/Acme/DemoBundle/Resources/config/services.xml -->
          <parameter key="security.acl.user_voter.class">Acme\DemoBundle\Security\Authorization\Voter\UserAclVoter</parameter>
          <!-- <parameter key="">Acme\DemoBundle\Security\Acl\Permission\UserAdminPermissionMap</parameter> -->
          <!-- <service id="" class="" public="false"></service> -->
          <service id="security.acl.voter.user_permissions" class="%security.acl.user_voter.class%" public="false">
              <tag name="monolog.logger" channel="security" />
              <argument type="service" id="security.acl.provider" />
              <argument type="service" id="security.acl.object_identity_retrieval_strategy" />
              <argument type="service" id="security.acl.security_identity_retrieval_strategy" />
              <argument type="service" id="" />
              <argument type="service" id="logger" on-invalid="null" />
              <tag name="security.voter" priority="255" />
  • change the access decision strategy to unanimous

    • YAML
      # app/config/security.yml
              # Strategy can be: affirmative, unanimous or consensus
              strategy: unanimous
  • to make this work the permission needs to be checked using the Object ACL

    • modify the template (or code) where applicable:

      {% if admin.isGranted('EDIT', user_object) %} {# ... #} {% endif %}
    • because the object ACL permission is checked, the ACL for the object must have been created, otherwise the AclVoter will deny EDIT access for a non super admin user trying to edit another non super admin user. This is automatically done when the object is created using the Admin. If objects are also created outside the Admin, have a look at the createSecurityObject method in the AclSecurityHandler.

23.4.5. Usage

Every time you create a new Admin class, you should start with the command php app/console sonata:admin:setup-acl so the ACL database will be updated with the latest roles and permissions.

In the templates, or in your code, you can use the Admin method isGranted():

  • check for an admin that the user is allowed to EDIT:

    {# use the admin security method  #}
    {% if admin.isGranted('EDIT') %} {# ... #} {% endif %}
    {# or use the default is_granted symfony helper, the following will give the same result #}
    {% if is_granted('ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN') or is_granted('EDIT', admin) %} {# ... #} {% endif %}
  • check for an admin that the user is allowed to DELETE, the object is added to also check if the object owner is allowed to DELETE:

    {# use the admin security method  #}
    {% if admin.isGranted('DELETE', object) %} {# ... #} {% endif %}
    {# or use the default is_granted symfony helper, the following will give the same result #}
    {% if is_granted('ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN') or is_granted('DELETE', object) %} {# ... #} {% endif %}

23.4.6. List filtering

List filtering using ACL is available as a third party bundle: CoopTilleulsAclSonataAdminExtensionBundle. When enabled, the logged in user will only see the objects for which it has the VIEW right (or superior).

23.5. ACL editor

SonataAdminBundle provides a user-friendly ACL editor interface. It will be automatically available if the security handler is used and properly configured.

The ACL editor is only available for users with OWNER or MASTER permissions on the object instance. The OWNER and MASTER permissions can only be edited by an user with the OWNER permission on the object instance.

The ACL editor

23.5.1. User list customization

By default, the ACL editor allows to set permissions for all users managed by FOSUserBundle.

To customize displayed user override SonataAdminBundleControllerCRUDController::getAclUsers(). This method must return an iterable collection of users.

 * {@InheritDoc}
protected function getAclUsers()
    $userManager = $container->get('fos_user.user_manager');

    // Display only kevin and anne
    $kevin = $userManager->findUserByUsername('kevin');
    $anne = $userManager->findUserByUsername('anne');

    return array($kevin, $anne);

23.5.2. Custom user manager

If your project does not use FOSUserBundle, you can globally configure another service to use when retrieving your users.

  • Create a service with a method called findUsers() returning an iterable collection of users
  • Update your admin configuration to reference your service name
  • YAML
    # app/config/config.yml
            acl_user_manager: my_user_manager # The name of your service

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