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EasyAdmin Bundle: How to remove null values when sorting entities

by Ivan Kvasnica, 17.01.2017 - Comment

Some web applications have a secret. I mean, an administration interface. You know, that part of the website behind the /admin you don’t want to expose (especially if you don’t care about cross-site scripting vulnerabilities).

But you rarely develop these interfaces on your own. There are plenty of Symfony bundles to deal with this issue. Right now, I am working with the EasyAdmin bundle. It is straightforward, solves more or less all common problems and is really easy to use. All the configuration is done via YAML files.

However, as our system was growing over time, very specific needs began to rise that are not solvable in the non-coding way.

For instance, sorting a timestamp field on an entity. Looks like a trivial problem, right? Wrong. It turned out that EasyAdmin doesn’t filter out null values from the field. So when a user wants to see, for example, the most recent logged in users, she will see users who have not logged yet instead. Quite an opposite result!

Fortunately, Easy Admin comes with a bunch of events you can hook into. I decided to solve the problem in a way that the null results are not visible at all when sorting a specific timestamp field on a specific entity. If you have another idea for a solution, feel free to drop a comment below.

1. Create a kernel event subscriber

...or listener, if you prefer. Subscriber to the _POST_LIST_QUERYBUILDER, so we can modify an already created QueryBuilder and thus SQL query, coming from the EasyAdmin bundle.

namespace AppBundle\Subscriber;

use JavierEguiluz\Bundle\EasyAdminBundle\Event\EasyAdminEvents;
use Symfony\Component\EventDispatcher\EventSubscriberInterface;
use Symfony\Component\EventDispatcher\GenericEvent;
use Doctrine\Common\Collections\Criteria;

class EasyAdminSubscriber implements EventSubscriberInterface

    public static function getSubscribedEvents()
        return [
            EasyAdminEvents::POST_LIST_QUERY_BUILDER => 'lastLoginSortWithoutNull',

And don't forget to register it in services.yml.

    class: AppBundle\Subscriber\EasyAdminSubscriber
      - { name: kernel.event_subscriber }

2. Limit the subscriber

Create the method to do the magic. You should apply the filter only to entities and/or fields it is necessary. Be careful, otherwise you might break something else.

public function lastLoginSortWithoutNull(GenericEvent $event)
        // get necessary variables from the event
        $subject = $event->getSubject();
        $sortField = $event->getArgument('sort_field');

        // apply only when user is sorting by lastLogin in the User entity
        if ($subject['name'] !== 'User' || $sortField !== 'lastLogin') {

        /* ... */

3. Apply a Criteria

Doctrine comes up with a handy helper to solve exactly these kind of problems. It's called Criteria and, as the name suggests, you can add another criteria to an existing QueryBuilder. In our case, we don't want rows with lastLogin of null.

public function lastLoginSortWithoutNull(GenericEvent $event)
        /* ... */

        // filter out NULL values from the result set
        $queryBuilder = $event->getArgument('query_builder');
        $criteria = Criteria::create()->where(Criteria::expr()->neq('lastLogin', null));

And that's it! The QueryBuilder is now modified and will return only User entities that have been logged in at least once.

You can use Criteria in many places and I suggest that you read their documentation, because it's a powerful tool. It works on the SQL level so performance is much better than filtering array collections, for instance.