Creating unique numbering sequences using a custom identifier strategy with Doctrine.

Recently in a project I am working on, I had to invoice a bunch of suppliers. These invoices had to be numbered with a prefix followed by a number starting from 1. This had to be done for every supplier. So for supplier X we would have invoices numbered like this: x.1, x.2, etc and for supplier Y we would have them numbered like: y.1, y.2, etc.

I've created a small proof of concept how to implement this in Symfony and Doctrine. In this post I am going to explain how I did this.

Introduction to the problem.

Normally when I create an entity I run the php bin/console make:entity command and follow the wizard. This will generate an entity which looks roughly like this.

class Invoice
{
    /**
     * @ORM\Id()
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue()
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     */
    private int $id;

    public function getId(): ?int {
        return $this->id;
    }
}

This will create a table in the database which increments the id whenever you insert a new Invoice. The problem we face now is that the ID will just increment all the invoices the same. We can't make the integer increment based on the supplier.

How I solved this.

I started out with two very simple classes.

class Supplier {
    /**
     * @ORM\Id()
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue()
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     */
    private int $id;

    /**
     * @ORM\Column(type="string", length=255)
     */
    private string $prefix;
}

class Invoice {
    /**
     * @ORM\Id()
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue()
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     */
    private int $id;

    /**
     * @ORM\ManyToOne(targetEntity=Supplier::class, inversedBy="invoices")
     * @ORM\JoinColumn(nullable=false)
     */
    private Supplier $supplier;
}

Then I created a class called SupplierInvoiceSequence

class SupplierInvoiceSequence {
    /**
     * @ORM\Id()
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue()
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     */
    private int $id;

    /**
     * @ORM\Column(type="integer")
     */
    private int $sequence_number;

    public function __construct() {
        $this->sequence_number = 0;
    }
}

The SupplierInvoiceSequence will hold the current invoice number for each individual supplier. I've started the sequence at 0, but you can start it at any number you want.

I had to change the Supplier class, so it automatically adds an entry in the sequence table. I added the following code to the Supplier class.

class Supplier {
    // Same code as before

    /**
     * @ORM\OneToOne(targetEntity=InvoiceSequence::class, cascade={"persist", "remove"})
     * @ORM\JoinColumn(nullable=false)
     */
    private SupplierInvoiceSequence $supplierInvoiceSequence;

    public function __construct() {
        $this->supplierInvoiceSequence = new SupplierInvoiceSequence();
    }
}

The only thing I had to do now is change the 'GeneratedValue' from the invoice, so it uses a combined value of the prefix and the value stored in the SupplierInvoiceSequence entity.

The way you can do this is change the identifier generation strategy for the entity. While reading the documentation, I was really excited about the TABLE strategy because this looked exactly what I needed.

Tells Doctrine to use a separate table for ID generation. This strategy provides full portability.

Sadly this strategy has a note that it is not implemented yet. So I choose CUSTOM instead.

Because I choose CUSTOM I had to create my own ID generator. I did this by extending doctrine's AbstractIdGenerator class. This abstract class has two methods, generate and isPostInsertGenerator.

I only had to implement the generate method, because the isPostInsertGenerator is a flag whenever the generator has to be ran before or after the entity is inserted into the database.

class SupplierInvoiceSequenceGenerator extends AbstractIdGenerator
{
    public function generate(EntityManager $em, $entity)
    {
        $sequenceId = $entity->getSupplier()->getSupplierInvoiceSequence()->getId();

        $query = $em->createQuery("UPDATE SupplierInvoiceSequence i SET i.sequence_number = i.sequence_number + 1 WHERE i.id = :id");
        $query->setParameter("id", $sequenceId);
        $query->execute();

        $increment = $em->createQuery("SELECT i.sequence_number FROM SupplierInvoiceSequence i WHERE i.id = :id");
        $increment->setParameter("id", $sequenceId);

        return "{$entity->getSupplier()->getPrefix()}.{$increment->getSingleResult()['sequence_number']}";
    }
}

As you can see what I did in the generate method is I run a query which increments the sequence number by 1 for the SupplierInvoiceSequence related to the supplier I am currently creating an Invoice for. Then I select the incremented ID and concatenate it with the supplier prefix.

Well you might think this is not going to work, he is return a string instead of an integer. You are completely right, there is one last think I have to do.

I had to change the @GeneratedValue() annotation in the Invoice class to use my custom generator, I also had to add the @CustomIdGenerator annotation to define which ID generator Doctrine will use.

Lastly I had to change the column type to string because the sequence number needs to have the format prefix.number.

class Invoice {
    /**
     * @ORM\Id()
     * @ORM\GeneratedValue(strategy="CUSTOM")
     * @ORM\CustomIdGenerator(class="SupplierInvoiceSequenceGenerator")
     * @ORM\Column(type="string")
     */
    private int $id;
}

Now the invoice number will be generated based on the supplier prefix and unique sequence id.

Conclusion

For my use case this works because the supplier will always exist before I create invoices for it. If you have another scenario where you create the supplier at the same time as an invoice this might not work in the same way. I hope you got a push in the right direction.