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A setup plugin is a PHP file with these characteristics:

  • The file's name ends in *.civi-setup.php.
  • The file has a guard at the top (if (!defined('CIVI_SETUP'))...).
  • The file defines events-listeners (\Civi\Setup::disptacher()->addListener($eventName, $callback)).

Plugins are conventionally autoloaded from civicrm/setup/plugins/**.civi-setup.php (although some installers may load custom plugins).

For example, let's create a plugin that logs a message during database installation:

// FILE: civicrm/setup/plugins/installDatabase/MySpecialLogger.civi-setup.php
use Civi\Setup\Event\InstallDatabaseEvent;

if (!defined('CIVI_SETUP')) {
  exit("Installation plugins must only be loaded by the installer.\n");

  function (InstallDatabaseEvent $event) {
    \Civi\Setup::log()->info("I like to run the plugin during installation.");

All events provide access to the setup data-model. For example, this will provide the path to civicrm.settings.php:


Observe that the primary way for a plugin to interact with the system is to register for events (using Symfony's EventDispatcher). The events determine when the plugin runs and what data it can access.

Events: General installation

Most methods in the Civi\Setup API have a corresponding event name (civi.setup.{myEvent}) and event class (Civi\Setup\Event\MyEvent). Most plugins will register for one of these events:

\Civi\Setup Method Event Name Event Class
init() civi.setup.init InitEvent
checkAuthorized() civi.setup.checkAuthorized CheckAuthorizedEvent
checkInstalled() civi.setup.checkInstalled CheckInstalledEvent
checkRequirements() civi.setup.checkRequirements CheckRequirementsEvent
installFiles() civi.setup.installFiles InstallFilesEvent
installDatabase() civi.setup.installDatabase InstallDatabaseEvent
uninstallFiles civi.setup.uninstallFiles UninstallFilesEvent
uninstallDatabase civi.setup.uninstallDatabase UninstallDatabaseEvent

Some events provide additional methods and properties. For example:

  • For civi.setup.checkRequirements, use $event->addError(...) to record an error that prevents installation. Similarly, use addWarning(...) and addInfo(...) to report less critical issues.
  • For civi.setup.checkAuthorized, use $event->setAuthorized(bool $authorized) to indicate whether authorization is permitted, and use $event->isAuthorized() to see if authorization has been permitted.

Events: Web installation

For methods related to the built-in web UI, the event-names and event-classes live in a different namespace (civi.setupui.{myEvent} and Civi\Setup\UI\Event, respectively).

Method Event Name Event Class
\Civi\Setup::createController() civi.setupui.construct Civi\Setup\UI\Event\UIConstructEvent
\Civi\Setup\UI\SetupController::run() Civi\Setup\UI\Event\UIRunEvent
\Civi\Setup\UI\SetupController::boot() civi.setupui.boot Civi\Setup\UI\Event\UIBootEvent

Some events provide additional methods and properties. For example:

  • For, the list of HTTP inputs is available as $event->getFields().

What's in a file name?

The plugins/ folder is loosely organized based on how the plugin fits into the system. Let's take a few example files (at time of writing):


Notice a pattern?

  • The files under plugins/checkRequirements are all plugins which listen to the civi.setup.checkRequirements event.
  • The files under plugins/installDatabase are all plugins which listen to the civi.setup.installDatabase event.

Most plugins only handle one event, so it's a convenient way to organize them. However, this is just a convention. It's entirely legitimate for a plugin to listen to multiple events. For example:

  • common/LogEvents.civi-setup.php listens to many events.
  • blocks/* define visible blocks for the built-in web UI. Many of these listen to 2-3 events.

Should a plugin only handle one event?

If you write a new plugin, should it handle one event or multiple? Do whatever is best (on the whole) for improving the concept/coupling/cohesion. This usually means writing a small/narrow plugin, but it doesn't necessarily.

Browsing for high-level overview

Browse the plugin folders for a high-level skim of the plugins. Try to respect this in framing new plugins, but don't assume that it's perfect. For detailed inspection or debugging, use cv core:install --debug-event.