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Warning: This page has not been updated in over over a year and may be outdated or deprecated.

Recommended Tools

Developers are free to use whatever tools they prefer, but this page provides some suggestions that may help newcomers make the most of VuFind® development.

Editors / IDEs

Some developers prefer to use a simple text editor to quickly and easily edit individual files. Others prefer a full-fledged IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which imposes a “whole project” view of the code and includes a built-in understanding of the code which enables it to detect errors, make suggestions and offer navigational shortcuts during programming. As a general rule, an IDE has a steeper learning curve than a basic editor and consumes more resources; however, it offers great advantages when undertaking more complex programming tasks. Basic text editors can offer more speed, and some also include plug-ins to enable certain IDE-like functionality.

At Villanova, Demian uses the free, open source Visual Studio Code IDE for most of his work (and has previously been successful using Netbeans), while Chris uses the Notepad++ text editor.

Version Control

It is strongly recommended that you use some sort of version control software to keep track of revisions while programming. This provides a valuable safety net for reverting bad changes, remembering why particular adjustments were made, etc. In the case of Git, the tool used by VuFind®, it also offers powerful collaboration and sharing capabilities. Whether you plan to work locally or share with the local community, Git is a tool worth learning more about, as is the GitHub platform, which enhances Git's native sharing capabilities with web-based collaboration tools.

Dependency Management

VuFind® loads its external dependencies using Composer. An understanding of Composer is important when running VuFind® from a source checkout or when adding new third-party libraries.

NPM Scripts / Grunt

VuFind®, as of version 9.0, uses NPM Scripts to help manage front end tasks like compiling and converting less/scss. Earlier releases used Grunt.

Meeting Project Standards

The VuFind® project includes unit tests and automated code style checks designed to insure the consistency and integrity of the code. Whenever a Git commit is made or a GitHub pull request is opened, continuous integration processes run to validate the changes, and alerts will be thrown if anything breaks.

Checking Everything

While you can open a pull request and check for problems after the fact through GitHub's interface, it is also possible to run checks prior to submission, which may save you some time. To run all the tests and code quality checks locally, run the following command from your VuFind® home directory:

composer run qa

To automatically correct the most common problems, you can also run:

composer fix


The unit tests page talks about how to run tests locally.


For style compliance, VuFind® uses PHP_CodeSniffer and PHP-CS-fixer, each of which is capable of detecting (and sometimes automatically fixing) different issues. In recent versions of VuFind®, these tools will be installed automatically by Composer.

To test style compliance with PHP_CodeSniffer while in your VuFind® directory, you can test a single file with:

vendor/bin/phpcs --standard=$VUFIND_HOME/tests/phpcs.xml [file]

Or, through Phing, you can check the whole project:

vendor/bin/phing phpcs-console

To automatically fix certain PHP_CodeSniffer issues, you can run:

vendor/bin/phing phpcbf

To automatically fix additional issues with php-cs-fixer, from the base of your VuFind® directory, run:

vendor/bin/phing php-cs-fixer

If you are unwilling or unable to run these tools locally, note that if you open a pull request against the main VuFind® repo, they will be automatically run by continuous integration and you can view a list of issues in the resulting report. Before you spend time manually fixing anything, you can post a comment on the pull request to ask for assistance with running the automatic processes.

Static Analysis

VuFind® uses PHPStan for static code analysis; it helps detect common programming errors like incorrect types, unused variables, etc. Paying attention to PHPStan reports can help you write better-quality code and avoid subtle bugs. To run a PHPStan test, you can use this command:

vendor/bin/phing phpstan-console
development/recommended_tools.txt · Last modified: 2024/07/11 11:47 by demiankatz