Domain Driven Design with Symfony: A Folder Structure

August 13, 2016 6 mins read

Domain Driven Design with Symfony: A Folder Structure

Deciding how to setup the directory structure of a project is not easy. Often, the frameworks people are used to suggest a way to organize classes, such as Symfony does. However, when implementing domain-driven design (DDD) it is very important to NOT couple the domain code to a framework, as sooner or later sticking to a proposed directory structure renders your carefully crafted code coupled to the framework. Also, you want to make sure that your architecture remains changeable.

Deciding on a Directory Structure

When building an application it is important to choose a structure and then stick to it. For PHP and Symfony, there are quite a few detailed resources and example applications out there highlighting how they organize their code. For a recent project of mine, I have investigated a lot of these resources and projects, but in the end came up with yet another directory structure for DDD applications supported by Symfony. Lets jump straight to how things are organized now.

Layered Architecture

The code is organized by functional components, which have a logically coherent and tight coupling of the contained models. A component (e.g., a User component) is then organized into five different layers:

  • Domain layer: contains the actual business logic and domain models.
  • Infrastructure layer: binds the business logic implementation to infrastructure and frameworks, such as Symfony or Doctrine.
  • Presentation layer: is responsible for presenting a user interface, allowing users to make use of the business logic.
  • Api layer: provides an API interface to interact with the domain services.
  • Tests layer: Contains all tests relevant to the component.

The general folder structure for the Symfony application with a sample component now looks as follows:

├── app
├── assets
├── bin
├── src
│   ├── ...
│   ├── User
│   │   ├── Api
│   │   ├── Domain
│   │   ├── Infrastructure
│   │   ├── Presentation
│   │   └── Tests
│   ├── ...
├── vendor
├── web

The direct child folders of each component relate to the different architectural layers described above. Hence, all classes belonging to a component belong to a certain layer. The layers and their contents are explained in the following sections.


├── User
│   ├── Domain
│   │   ├── Command
│   │   ├── Event
│   │   ├── Model
│   │   ├── Repository
│   │   ├── Service
│   │   └── ValueObject

Most importantly, the domain layer contains the domain models, domain repositories (simple interactions with models), and domain services (complex interactions with [multiple] entities). Also command classes describing business interactions and corresponding domain events belong here. Last but not least, also custom value objects that are important to the domain are stored here.

All classes and interfaces defined in this layer have no dependencies to any third party library.


├── User
│   ├── Infrastructure
│   │   ├── UserInfrastructureBundle.php
│   │   ├── Console
│   │   ├── EventListener
│   │   ├── Repository
│   │   ├── Resources
│   │   └── Service

The infrastructure layer binds the elements defined in the domain layer to a specific framework or platform in order to have a runnable application. The layer can for example act as an adapter/wrapper for specific persistence tasks or provide application services (such as email, caching, message queues, etc.).

In case of Symfony, the infrastructure layer also contains console commands the application may have or EventListeners that listen to Symfony-specific or custom events through the frameworks event system.

In general, the layer contains the actual implementations of the business services described in the domain layer. Hence, also most dependency injection definitions point to implementations defined in this layer.


├── User
│   ├── Api
│   │   ├── UserApiBundle.php
│   │   ├── Controller
│   │   └── Resources

The API layer provides an API interface to interact with the application. For example, this could be a REST API backend for a modern JavaScript-based frontend. The layer defines routes and controllers that trigger the corresponding operations in the domain layer.

Having the offered API separate from the implementation allows to precisely define which services are exposed to whom through the API. The layer handles authentication and authorization with the API and can also rate-limit requests or track metrics for billing purposes. Putting all these API concerns into this separate layer allows the domain and infrastructure layers to remain slim and focused, while the exposed API can easily be managed.


├── User
│   ├── Presentation
│   │   ├── UserPresentationBundle.php
│   │   ├── Controller
│   │   ├── Form
│   │   ├── Resources
│   │   └── Twig

Symfony provides a lot of resources to help implementing an HTML-based user interface. The presentation layer contains all resources concerned with creating a user interface rendered on the server side for the end user. JavaScript based user interfaces typically only require the API layer and there is thus no need for an extra presentation layer. For Symfony, this means that web based controllers, forms with input validation and Twig view scripts are stored in this layer.

Having separated the user interface from the domain and the infrastructure simplifies the development of either layer. The code in the presentation layer should not contain any business logic, but only forward calls to the respective services of the domain layer. Hence, the presentation layer stays small helping developers to easily evolve the user interface, even during big changes.


├── User
│   └── Tests
│       ├── Api
│       ├── Domain
│       ├── Functional
│       ├── Infrastructure
│       └── Presentation
├── ...

The tests layer contains all tests relevant to the component. Tests are again, organized by layer. In addition to unit testing layers, the tests folder could also contain E2E (i.e. in the Functional folder) and integration tests. Putting all kinds of tests into this folder structure helps new developers find the tests they are looking for and to easily find components that might be lacking tests of a certain kind.

Symfony Bundles

As you might have noticed, a component can define up to three Symfony bundles: BcApiBundle, BcInfrastructureBundle and BcPresentationBundle. Typically, setting up a bundle requires some effort in terms of configuration files and certain classes. To minimize that effort when using the proposed folder structure, all bundles extend a CompactBundle that favors convention over configuration. A typical *Bundle class looks as follows:

namespace Acme\User\Infrastructure;

use Acme\Core\Infrastructure\Bundle\CompactBundle;

class UserInfrastructureBundle extends CompactBundle

This adds the following conventions to configure the bundle:

  • Service definitions are stored in <Bundle>/Resources/config/services.yml.
  • Routing is stored in <Bundle>/Resources/config/routing.yml.
  • Doctrine mapping files are stored in <Component>/Infrastructure/Resources/config/doctrine/ while the associated models are stored in the namespace <Component>/Domain.
  • JMS Serializer mapping files are stored in <Component>/Infrastructure/Resources/config/serializer/ while the associated models are stored in the namespace <Component>/ (in contrast to doctrine models, they do not necessarily need to be located in the domain layer).


The source files for the CompactBundle are stored in a public gist. Feel free to adapt it to your needs. The CompactBundle conventions should help you get started writing your DDD applications with several components.

View Gist on GitHub


👋 I'd love to hear your opinion and experiences. Share your thoughts with a comment below!

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