composer

Composer and Drupal are still strange bedfellows

More and more sites are being built in Drupal 8 (over 160,000 as of DrupalCon Baltimore 2017!). As developers determine best practices for Drupal 8 site builds and deployment, they need to come to terms with Composer. In one of the most visible signs that Drupal is 'off the island', many modules are now requiring developers to have at least a fundamental grasp of Composer and dependency management.

But even more than that, many developers now use Composer in place of manual dependency management or a simpler tools like Drush Make files.

With these major changes comes some growing pains. Seeing these pains on a daily basis, I wrote Tips for Managing Drupal 8 projects with Composer to highlight some best practices and tricks for making Composer more powerful and helpful.

But many developers still wrestle with Composer, and mourn the fact that deployments aren't as simple as dragging zip files and tarballs around between servers, or checking everything into a Git repository and doing a git push. For example:

  • If I manage my codebase with Composer and follow Composer's own recommendation—don't commit dependencies in my vendor directory, what's the best way to actually deploy my codebase? Should I run composer install on my production web server? What about shared hosting where I might not have command line access at all?
  • Many modules (like Webform) require dependencies to be installed in a libraries folder in the docroot. How can I add front end dependencies via Composer in custom locations outside of the vendor directory?

And on and on.

DrupalCon Baltimore 2017 - participants sitting and waiting to see the opening Keynote
Over 3,000 community members attended DrupalCon Baltimore 2017.
(Photo by Michael Cannon)

During a BoF I led at DrupalCon Baltimore 2017 (Managing Drupal sites with Composer), we identified over 20 common pain points people are having with Composer, and for many of them, we discussed ways to overcome the problems. However, there are still a few open questions, or problems which could be solved in a number of different ways (some better than others).

I've taken all my notes from the BoF, and organized them into a series of problems (questions) and answers below. Please leave follow-up comments below this post if you have any other thoughts or ideas, or if something is not clear yet!

Composer BoF at DrupalCon Baltimore

Update: The BoF has come and passed... and I put up a comprehensive summary of the session here: Composer and Drupal are still strange bedfellows.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, April 25), I'm leading a Birds of a Feather (BoF) at DrupalCon Baltimore titled Managing Drupal sites with Composer (3:45 - 4:45 p.m. in room 305).

Composer for PHP - Logo

I've built four Drupal 8 websites now, and for each site, I have battle scars from working with Composer (read my Tips for Managing Drupal 8 projects with Composer). Even some of the tools that I use alongside composer—for project scaffolding, managing dependencies, patching things, etc.—have changed quite a bit over the past year.

Tips for Managing Drupal 8 projects with Composer

It's been over a year since Drupal 8.0.0 was released, and the entire ecosystem has improved vastly between that version's release and the start of the 8.3.0-alpha releases (which just happened a couple weeks ago).

One area that's seen a vast improvement in documentation and best practices—yet still has a ways to go—is Composer-based project management.

Along with a thousand other 'get off the island' initiatives, the Drupal community has started to take dependency management more seriously, by integrating with the wider PHP ecosystem and maintaining a separate Drupal.org packagist for Drupal modules, themes, and other projects.

Upgrading Drupal VM in a BLT-powered project

Update 2017-02-14: BLT now includes a much simpler method of upgrading the VM (provided you only override VM settings in files separate from the box/config.yml file):

# Delete the entire VM and remove config.
blt vm:nuke

# Rebuild the VM with the latest recommended version and config.
blt vm

Limiting the amount of surprises you get when developing a large-scale Drupal project is always a good thing. And to that end, Acquia's BLT (Build and Launch Tools) wisely chooses to leave Drupal VM alone when updating BLT itself. Updates to Drupal VM can and should be done independently of install profile and development and deployment tooling.

composer require geerlingguy/drupal-vm:~4.0

Deleting a directory in Windows 10 with 'Source path too long' using robocopy

2016-10-04 Update: Microsoft finally allows long paths, provided you are running the latest version of Windows 10; you have to opt-in by editing a group policy for now—maybe by 2050 or so this will be the default, once all the old legacy Windows apps are finally dead!

For some reason, Windows doesn't play well with deep folder hierarchies. Often, when building Drupal projects inside VMs with synced directories, I end up with folders with 10+ levels of hierarchy, and when I try to delete the directory within windows, I get the error "Source path too long" (or "File path too long"). This happens a lot with npm, composer, or other package/dependency managers, and I'm amazed there's no easy workaround... but I figured I'd document what I do here, because I've had to look up the process too many times.

1 - Download robocopy

First, download and install the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools, which includes a CLI utility, robocopy.

Speeding up Composer-based Drupal installation

Drupal VM is one of the most flexible and powerful local development environments for Drupal, but one the main goals of the project is to build a fully-functional Drupal 8 site quickly and easily without doing much setup work. The ideal would be to install Vagrant, clone or download the project, then run vagrant up. A few minutes later, you'd have a Drupal 8 site ready for hacking on!

In the past, you always had to do a couple extra steps in between, configuring a drupal.make.yml file and a config.yml file. Recently, thanks in huge part to Oskar Schöldström's herculean efforts, we achieved that ideal by switching from defaulting to a Drush make-based workflow to a Composer-based workflow (this will come in the 3.1.0 release, very soon!). But it wasn't without trial and tribulation!

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