Skip to content

Using PhpStorm for CiviCRM Development

PhpStorm is a commercial IDE which is popular among CiviCRM developers.

General project setup

  • Use the root directory of your CMS as your project root (otherwise in-app debugging won't work)
  • You can speed up PhpStorm's indexing process by taking the following steps to ignore most files:
    1. Settings > Directories
    2. Mark all directories as "Excluded"
    3. Drill down to find the "civicrm" folder and mark it as "Sources"

Code style setup

Create the 'CiviCRM' code styling preference:

  1. Open you current project's properties: File > Settings
  2. Create the CiviCRM code styling preference: Code Style > Manage > Save as, then indicate 'CiviCRM'
  3. In the 'Code style' sub-menu, select 'PHP', then 'Set from ...' at the far right, Predefined Style > Drupal (this sets options across all tabs of the dialog)
  4. In the 'Code style' sub-menu, select 'Javascript', then 'Set from ...' at the far right, PHP (this replicates all PHP settings to the Javascript section)
  5. Click 'Apply' at the bottom of the screen

That's it. You can now use this code style on all future CiviCRM-related projects. If you are only developing for CiviCRM, you can also copy this style to the 'Default' style.

XDebug integration

You need to configure XDebug on the webserver, phpstorm on the development machine and a debugger helper in the browser.

To configure XDebug and PHPStorm see:

For browser helpers see:

Running automated tests from within PhpStorm


These instructions assume you already have a working instance of CiviCRM running locally with buildkit.

From the Run > Edit Configurations menu add a new PHPUnit configuration.

Check "Use alternative configuration file" and choose phpunit.xml.dist in your CiviCRM root directory.

Expand "Environment variables" and add the following two:

  • TEST_DB_DSN: Use the DSN to connect to your test database. It is displayed on completion of civibuild. You should also be able to find it by running cv vars:show.
  • CIVICRM_UF: Use "UnitTests" unless you're running WebTests or End-to-end tests.

For step by step instructions (with screenshots!) see this StackExchange answer.

Adding external libraries

It can be frustrating when writing tests the PHPStorm complains about missing classes or undefined methods. This happens because PHPUnit is not included in the CiviCRM codebase.

To remedy this you can add an external content root. You'll need to clone the phpunit library locally. Then from that directory check out the latest supported version of phpunit (4.x right now).

After that you just add the directory to your project include paths by following the instructions on the Jetbrains site.

Alternatively: always use buildkit to generate you CiviCRM development environment; it ships with many tools - including phpunit4