Last Updated – May 2024

We often receive questions regarding the use of frameworks with the ionCube Encoder, and one such framework is Symfony. This article covers the most significant consideration a programmer using the Symfony framework takes in order to protect their code.

Symfony not only uses the doc comments but scans the source code for “use” statements. Obviously, scanning the source code is not possible with encoded files.

Future versions of Symfony may be implemented differently to this article. However the underlying concept will remain the same, and so does our advice, that our recommended solution is to use the YAML, XML or PHP alternatives for defining routes. In the first instance reference should be made to the official documentation as described in for ‘Routing in Other Formats’.

If you do still want to use annotations then one possible solution to this problem is to change how Symfony detects files that contain classes. If you were to search for ionCube and Symfony then you should find different posts about this in relation to encoding and here is one example from an article we found:

If you find the findClass() method in AnnotationFileLoader class, you’ll see that they tokenize source code and search for namespace and class keywords. Obviously, it does not work for encoded files. So the idea is to change that to a direct filename-to-classname mapping. This will work as Symfony insists on using coding standards for file names, class names and how files are allocated in directories.

Edit AnnotationFileLoader.php and add a new private function:

private function findClassInPath($path) {
if ($path[0] == DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR) $path = substr($path, 1);
$className = str_replace(DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR, '\\', str_replace('.php', '', $path));
while(true) {
if (class_exists($className)) return $className;
if (($p = strpos($className, '\\')) === false) return false;
$className = substr($className, $p+1);

Then edit the findClass() method and add the following line at the top of the method’s code:

protected function findClass($file)
if ($className = $this->findClassInPath($file)) return $className;

The change lets Symfony detect encoded class file without parsing it, i.e. src/Acme/DemoBundle/Controller/DemoController.php to \Acme\DemoBundle\Controller\DemoController. It should be possible to write the above code into a subclass and setting it in configurations files instead of standard parser. This will look better from Symfony’s concept but produce the same result.

2) You also need to change short annotations in your controllers to full ones. We did this change in Acme/DemoBundle/Controller/DemoController.php

// import the "@Route" and "@Template" annotations
use Sensio\Bundle\FrameworkExtraBundle\Configuration\Route;
use Sensio\Bundle\FrameworkExtraBundle\Configuration\Template;

Change this:

* @Route("/", name="_demo")
* @Template()


To that:

* @Sensio\Bundle\FrameworkExtraBundle\Configuration\Route("/", name="_demo")
* @Sensio\Bundle\FrameworkExtraBundle\Configuration\Template()


Please note, there may be other annotations in your code and they should be also changed to the full version, e.g. @Security in SecuredController.php demo file.

After that you may encode updated controller files as usual and run the application.

This isn’t a great way to solve the problem but it is one possible workaround that should help you.

Of course, if your question regarding Symfony does not fit this particular situation, then please do reach out to us at our support helpdesk at:



Using Symfony With ionCube Encoder