Interface Segregation Principle (ISP) in PHP and Symfony: Best Practices

In object-oriented programming, the Interface Segregation Principle (ISP) states that clients should not be forced to depend on interfaces they do not use. In simpler terms, it emphasizes creating focused and specific interfaces, tailored to the exact needs of the classes that use them. This helps in keeping codebases clean, maintainable, and adhering to best practices.

In this blog post, we will delve into the Interface Segregation Principle and demonstrate how to apply it effectively in PHP using the Symfony framework. We’ll explore practical examples that showcase the benefits of adhering to this principle and the potential pitfalls of violating it.

Understanding the Interface Segregation Principle

The Interface Segregation Principle encourages developers to create specific and focused interfaces tailored to the needs of individual classes. By doing so, we prevent classes from being burdened with unnecessary methods, promoting a cleaner and more maintainable codebase.

Example Scenario: Admin, Editor, and Subscriber

Let’s consider an example scenario where we have a Symfony-based application with various types of users: Admin, Editor, and Subscriber. Each user type has specific functionalities, and we want to create interfaces that adhere to ISP for these user types.

Step 1: Define Separate Interfaces for Each User Type

// User interfaces based on their roles
interface AdminInterface {
    public function manageUsers(): void;
    public function managePosts(): void;

interface EditorInterface {
    public function editPost(int $postId): void;

interface SubscriberInterface {
    public function subscribeToNewsletter(): void;
Step 2: Implement Interfaces in Corresponding Classes

// Implementing interfaces for each user type
class Admin implements AdminInterface {
    public function manageUsers(): void {
        // Logic to manage users

    public function managePosts(): void {
        // Logic to manage posts

class Editor implements EditorInterface {
    public function editPost(int $postId): void {
        // Logic to edit a specific post

class Subscriber implements SubscriberInterface {
    public function subscribeToNewsletter(): void {
        // Logic to subscribe the user to the newsletter

By following ISP, we’ve created separate interfaces for each user type, ensuring that each class only implements the methods relevant to its role. This promotes better code organization and ensures that our classes are not burdened with unnecessary methods.

Step 3: Utilize Dependency Injection

Now, let’s demonstrate how to utilize these interfaces with dependency injection in a Symfony service.


use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Attribute\Autoconfigure;
use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Attribute\Tag;
use Symfony\Contracts\Service\Attribute\Required;

class UserHandler {
    private AdminInterface $admin;
    private EditorInterface $editor;
    private SubscriberInterface $subscriber;

    public function setAdmin(AdminInterface $admin): void {
        $this->admin = $admin;

    public function setEditor(EditorInterface $editor): void {
        $this->editor = $editor;

    public function setSubscriber(SubscriberInterface $subscriber): void {
        $this->subscriber = $subscriber;

    // Use these injected interfaces in relevant methods
    public function handleUser(User $user): void {
        if ($user instanceof Admin) {
        } elseif ($user instanceof Editor) {
        } elseif ($user instanceof Subscriber) {
        } else {
            // Handle default behavior

By adhering to the Interface Segregation Principle and using best practices with PHP 8 and Symfony, we can create a well-structured, maintainable, and efficient codebase. Embracing ISP ensures that our code is more modular, flexible, and easier to test and refactor as our application grows.

Violating the Interface Segregation Principle:

Now, let’s explore what happens when we violate the ISP by creating a class that depends on an interface with many methods, even though it only needs a subset of those methods. This can lead to unnecessary coupling and may result in a class being forced to implement methods it does not require.

Let’s illustrate this violation with an example:


// BloatedInterface.php

interface BloatedInterface {
    public function login(string $username, string $password): bool;
    public function logout(): void;
    public function processPayment(float $amount): bool;
    public function sendMessage(string $recipient, string $message): bool;
    // ... other methods that are not relevant to all classes

// AnotherClass.php (Violating the ISP)

class AnotherClass implements BloatedInterface {
    public function login(string $username, string $password): bool {
        // Logic to authenticate the user
        return true;
    public function logout(): void {
        // Logic to handle user logout
    public function processPayment(float $amount): bool {
        // Process payment logic
        return true;
    // AnotherClass doesn't need to send messages, but it's forced to implement the method.
    public function sendMessage(string $recipient, string $message): bool {
        return false;

In this example, the BloatedInterface contains several methods, including sendMessage, which is not needed by the AnotherClass. However, since AnotherClass implements the entire BloatedInterface, it is forced to implement the sendMessage method even though it serves no purpose for this particular class.

This violation leads to unnecessary method implementations and may increase the risk of bugs, confusion, and maintenance issues. It also introduces additional coupling between classes, making the codebase less flexible and harder to maintain.

To avoid violating the ISP in this scenario, it’s better to create more focused interfaces with fewer methods tailored to the specific needs of the classes that will implement them. By doing so, each class only implements the methods that are relevant to its functionality, resulting in a cleaner and more maintainable codebase.

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