The Road to EasyAdmin 3: No More YAML

EasyAdmin is an admin generator for Symfony applications. EasyAdmin 3 is the new version that will be released soon. This article is part of a series that explains some of its biggest changes and the reasoning behind them.

One of my favorite excerpts from the famous “Clean Code” book by Robert C. Martin states that:

The ratio of time spent reading code vs. writing code is well over 10:1. We are constantly reading old code as part of the effort to write new code. [That’s why] we want the reading of code to be easy, even if it makes the writing harder.

Following the same analogy, our biggest mistake with EasyAdmin 2 was to optimize it for creating backends quickly, instead of optimizing it for backend updates and maintenance. EasyAdmin 3 fixes this mistake making a bit harder to create backends but much easier to update and maintain them.

In EasyAdmin 2 backends were generated dynamically using some configuration written in YAML. You could add some PHP code for advanced and dynamic features, but most of the backend was YAML config transformed into PHP code in runtime.

In EasyAdmin 3 backends are defined exclusively using PHP code. You can’t use YAML in any part of EasyAdmin. We even removed the symfony/yaml dependency from composer.json.

This may scare some of you and think that EasyAdmin 3 will force you to write long and boring PHP code. Don’t worry about that. The needed code is not verbose and everything is autocompleted by your IDE, so you don’t really need to memorize any config option or method name.

Backwards Coding

Unlike most developers, for complex features I prefer to code backwards. That means defining how the end-user code will look like and once I’m happy with that, going backwards to implement the code that makes it possible.

I took this idea to the extreme for EasyAdmin 3. The development process was as follows:

Simple Upgrading

The idea of having to transform a long and complex EasyAdmin 2 YAML config into the PHP files needed by EasyAdmin 3 may seem boring and daunting. That’s why EasyAdmin 3 includes a command called make:admin:migration which does that for you.

The command can’t convert 100% of your current config, but it will convert most of it, so you’ll save a lot of time when upgrading.

👋 If EasyAdmin is useful for you or your company, please consider sponsoring me on GitHub.