Picture of Brian Love wearing black against a dark wall in Portland, OR.

Brian Love

Getting Started with Composer and CakePHP

Composer is a dependency management tool for PHP; perhaps comparable to using Maven for a Java project. I have used Maven for building both a Java project, as well as building a mobile application for Android and iOS using flex-mojos and Adobe AIR. So getting to learn about Composer has been a very enjoyable. I wanted to learn how to user Composer to use the following libraries:

Install Homebrew

To get started, we will be installed Homebrew. If you already have this installed, you can skip the next section on installing Composer. To install Homebrew is really easy. Open up a terminal window on your Mac and enter:

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/mxcl/homebrew/go)"

Install Composer

Before installing Composer it is a good idea to run brew update and brew doctor to ensure that you have an updated installation of Homebrew, and that your Homebrew installation is in good working order. I ran into some issues and had to untap the Composer installation and go back and perform these steps, so I suggest you do these first.

$ brew update
$ brew doctor

The next step is to ensure you have php55 installed via Homebrew:

$ brew install php55

Then, let’s add Composer:

$brew tap josegonzalez/homebrew-php
$ brew install composer

You should not have Composer installed. You can check by running the the following command, which should yield results similar to:

$ composer --version
Composer version 1.0.0-alpha7

Create the composer.json File

The composer.json file instructs Composer with information about your project and what your dependencies are. Here is an outline of what the following composer.json features:

  "name": "com.brianflove",
  "repositories": [
      "type": "pear",
      "url": "http://pear.cakephp.org"

  "config": {
    "vendor-dir": "Vendor/"

  "extra": {
    "installer-paths": {
      "app/Plugin/DebugKit": ["cakephp/debug_kit"],
      "app/Plugin/Localized": ["cakephp/localized"],
      "app/Plugin/BoostCake": ["slywalker/boost_cake"]

  "require": {
    "php": ">=5.3",
    "pear-pear.cakephp.org/CakePHP": ">=2.4.0",
    "cakephp/debug_kit": "2.2.*",
    "cakephp/localized": "2.1.*",
    "slywalker/boost_cake": "*"

Run It

The next step is to install our dependencies into the vendor directory, via:

$ composer install

Lastly, we will bake our new cake project:

$ Vendor/bin/cake bake app

P.S. Composer will hard code your application’s core path, so you should update webroot/index.php to define CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH as follows:

define('CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH', ROOT . DS . 'Vendor' . DS . 'pear-pear.cakephp.org' . DS . 'CakePHP' . DS . 'lib');

Note, this is slightly different than what the CakePHP Book indicates as the necessary path.