Coding Guidelines

Do your best to follow these guidelines when writing code for Craft and Craft plugins.

# Code Style

  • Follow the PSR-1 (opens new window) & PSR-2 (opens new window) coding standards.
  • Use the short array syntax (['foo' => 'bar']).
  • Don’t fret too much over line lengths. Focus on readability.
  • Chained method calls should each be placed on their own line, with the -> operator at the beginning of each line.
  • Conditions that span multiple lines should have logical operators (||, &&, etc.) at the end of lines.
  • Strings that are concatenated across multiple lines should have the . operator at the ends of lines.
  • Don’t put a space after type typecasts ((int)$foo).
  • Don’t wrap include/include_once/require/require_once file paths in parentheses. They are not functions.

Craft’s PhpStorm settings repository includes a code style scheme and inspection profile: (opens new window)

# Best Practices

  • Declare method argument types whenever possible.

    public function foo(Entry $entry, array $settings)
  • Use strict comparison operators (=== and !==) whenever possible.

  • Use $foo === null/$bar !== null rather than is_null($foo)/!is_null($bar).

  • Use (int)$foo/(float)$bar rather than intval($foo)/floatval($bar).

  • Always pass true/false to the third argument of in_array() (opens new window) to indicate whether the check should be type-strict (and make it true whenever possible).

  • Use $obj->property !== null rather than isset($obj->property) in conditions that check if an object property is set.

  • Use empty()/!empty() in conditions that check if an array is/isn’t empty.

  • Refer to class names using the ::class (opens new window) keyword (Foo::class) rather than as a string ('some\nmspace\Foo') or yii\base\BaseObject::className() (opens new window).

  • Initialize arrays explicitly ($array = []) rather than implicitly (e.g. $array[] = 'foo' where $array wasn’t defined yet).

  • Use self::_foo() rather than static::_foo() when calling private static functions, since static:: would break if the class is extended.

  • Use self::CONSTANT rather than static::CONSTANT (unnecessary overhead).

  • Only use the parent:: keyword when calling a parent method with the exact same name as the current method. Otherwise use $this->.

  • Always specify the visibility of class properties and methods (public, protected, or private).

  • Private class property/method names should begin with an underscore (private $_foo).

  • Don’t explicitly set class properties’ default values to null (e.g. public $foo = null;).

  • Always use require or include when including a file that returns something, rather than require_once or include_once.

  • Use strpos($foo, $bar) === 0 rather than strncmp($foo, $bar, $barLength) === 0 when checking if one string begins with another string, for short strings.

  • Use $str === '' rather than strlen($str) === 0 when checking if a string is empty.

  • Avoid using array_merge() within loops when possible.

  • Unset variables created by reference in foreach-loops after the loop is finished.

    foreach ($array as &$value) {
        // ...
  • Use implode() rather than join().

  • Use in_array() rather than array_search(...) !== false when the position of the needle isn’t needed.

  • Don’t use a switch statement when a single if condition will suffice.

  • Use single quotes (') whenever double quotes (") aren’t needed.

  • Use shortcut operators (+=, -=, *=, /=, %=, .=, etc.) whenever possible.

  • Use shortcut regex patterns (\d, \D, \w, \W, etc.) whenever possible.

  • Use the DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR constant rather than '/' when defining file paths.

The Php Inspections (EA Extended) (opens new window) PhpStorm plugin can help you locate and fix these sorts of best practice issues.

# Namespaces & Class Names

  • Follow the PSR-4 (opens new window) specification, where a class’s file location can be inferred by its fully qualified name, given a known base namespace mapped to a base path.
  • Namespaces should be all-lowercase.
  • Class names should be StudlyCase.
  • Only first party code should use the craft\ and pixelandtonic\ namespace roots. Third party plugins should use a namespace root that refers to the vendor name and plugin name (e.g. acme\myplugin\).

# Method Names

Getter methods (methods whose primary responsibility is to return something, rather than do something) that don’t accept any arguments should begin with get , and there should be a corresponding @property tag in the class’s docblock to document the corresponding magic getter property.

  • getAuthor()
  • getIsSystemOn()
  • getHasFreshContent()

Getter methods that accept one or more arguments (regardless of whether they can be omitted) should only begin with get if it “sounds right”.

  • getError($attribute)
  • hasErrors($attribute = null)

Static methods should generally not start with get.

  • className()
  • displayName()

# Type Declarations

Use type declarations (opens new window) whenever possible. The only exceptions should be:

  • Magic methods (opens new window) (e.g. __toString())
  • Arguments/return statements that could be multiple non-null value types
  • Methods that override a parent class’s method, where the parent method doesn’t have type declarations
  • Methods that are required by an interface, and the interface method doesn’t have type declarations

If an argument accepts two types and one of them is null, a ? can be placed before the non-null type:

public function foo(?string $bar): void

# Docblocks

  • Methods that override subclass methods or implement an interface method, and don’t have anything relevant to add to the docblock, should only have @inheritdoc in the docblock.
  • Use full sentences with proper capitalization, grammar, and punctuation in docblock descriptions.
  • @param and @return tags should not have proper capitalization or punctuation.
  • Use bool and int instead of boolean and integer in type declarations.
  • Specify array members’ class names in array type declarations when it makes sense (ElementInterface[] rather than array).
  • Chainable functions that return an instance of the current class should use static as the return type declaration.
  • Functions that don’t ever return anything should have @return void.

# Interfaces vs. Implementation Classes

@param , @return , @var , @method and @property tags on public service methods should reference Interfaces (when applicable), not their implementation class:

// Bad:
 * @param \craft\base\Element $element
 * @param \craft\base\ElementInterface|\craft\base\Element $element

// Better:
 * @param \craft\base\ElementInterface $element

Inline @var tags should reference implementation classes, not their interfaces:

// Bad:
/** @var \craft\base\ElementInterface $element */
/** @var \craft\base\ElementInterface|\craft\base\Element $element */

// Better:
/** @var \craft\base\Element $element */

# Control Flow

# Happy Paths

Use them (opens new window). In general the execution of a method should only make it all the way to the end if everything went as expected.

// Bad:
if ($condition) {
    // Do stuff

    return true;

return false;

// Better:
if (!$condition) {
    return false;

// Do stuff

return true;

# ifreturnelse

Don’t do this. There’s no point, and can be misleading at first glance.

// Bad:
if ($condition) {
    return $foo;
} else {
    return $bar;

// Better:
if ($condition) {
    return $foo;

return $bar;

# Controllers

# Return Types

Controller actions that should complete the request must return either a string (HTML) or a Response object.

// Bad:
$this->renderTemplate($template, $variables);

// Better:
return $this->asJson($obj);
return $this->renderTemplate($template, $variables);

# JSON Actions

Controller actions that have the option of returning JSON should do so if the request explicitly accepts a JSON response; not if it’s an Ajax request.

// Bad:
if (\Craft::$app->getRequest()->getIsAjax()) {
    return $this->asJson([...]);

// Better:
if (\Craft::$app->getRequest()->getAcceptsJson()) {
    return $this->asJson([...]);

Controller actions that only return JSON should require that the request accepts JSON.


# Exceptions

# DB Queries

  • Always wrap a table name with {{% and }} (e.g. {{%entries}}) so it’s properly quoted and the table prefix gets inserted.
  • Use the ['col1', 'col2'] syntax with select() and groupBy() instead of 'col1, col2' even if you’re only referencing a single column.
  • Use the ['{{%tablename}}'] syntax with from() instead of '{{%tablename}}'.
  • Use the ['col1' => SORT_ASC, 'col2' => SORT_DESC] syntax with orderBy() instead of 'col1, col2 desc'.

# Conditions

  • Always use Yii’s declarative condition syntax (opens new window) when possible, as it will automatically quote table/column names and values for you.
  • For consistency, use:
    • ['col' => $values] instead of ['in', 'col', $values]
    • ['col' => $value] instead of ['=', 'col', $value]
    • ['like', 'col', 'value'] instead of ['like', 'col', '%value%', false] (unless the % is only needed on one side of value)
  • If searching for NULL, use the ['col' => null] syntax.
  • If searching for NOT NULL, use the ['not', ['col' => null]] syntax.
  • If you cannot use the declarative condition syntax (e.g. the condition is referencing another table/column name rather than a value, as is often the case with joins), make sure you’ve quoted all column names, and any values that you aren’t 100% confident are safe should be added as query params.
// Bad:
$query->where('foo.thing is null');
$query->innerJoin('{{%bar}} bar', 'bar.fooId =');

// Better:
$query->where(['foo.thing' => null]);
$query->innerJoin('{{%bar}} bar', '[[bar.fooId]] = [[]]');

# Getters & Setters

Getter and setter methods should have a corresponding @property tag in the class’s docblock, so IDEs like PhpStorm can be aware of the magic properties.

 * @property User $author
class Entry
    private $_author;

     * @return User
    public function getAuthor()
        return $this->_author;

For a slight performance improvement and easier debugging, you should generally stick with calling the getter and setter methods directly rather than going through their magic properties.

// Bad:
$oldAuthor = $entry->author;
$entry->author = $newAuthor;

// Better:
$oldAuthor = $entry->getAuthor();

# App Component Getters

App components should have their own getter functions, which call the app component getter method get() (opens new window) directly:

 * @return Entries
public function getEntries()
    return $this->get('entries');

And you should use those instead of their magic properties:

// Bad:

// Better:

If you will be referencing the same app component multiple times within the same method, save a local reference to it.

// Bad:

// Better:
$entriesService = \Craft::$app->getEntries();