Repositories#

This chapter will explain the concept of packages and repositories, what kinds of repositories are available, and how they work.

Concepts#

Before we look at the different types of repositories that exist, we need to understand some of the basic concepts that composer is built on.

Package#

Composer is a dependency manager. It installs packages locally. A package is essentially just a directory containing something. In this case it is PHP code, but in theory it could be anything. And it contains a package description which has a name and a version. The name and the version are used to identify the package.

In fact, internally composer sees every version as a separate package. While this distinction does not matter when you are using composer, it's quite important when you want to change it.

In addition to the name and the version, there is useful metadata. The information most relevant for installation is the source definition, which describes where to get the package contents. The package data points to the contents of the package. And there are two options here: dist and source.

Dist: The dist is a packaged version of the package data. Usually a released version, usually a stable release.

Source: The source is used for development. This will usually originate from a source code repository, such as git. You can fetch this when you want to modify the downloaded package.

Packages can supply either of these, or even both. Depending on certain factors, such as user-supplied options and stability of the package, one will be preferred.

Repository#

A repository is a package source. It's a list of packages/versions. Composer will look in all your repositories to find the packages your project requires.

By default only the Packagist repository is registered in Composer. You can add more repositories to your project by declaring them in composer.json.

Repositories are only available to the root package and the repositories defined in your dependencies will not be loaded. Read the FAQ entry if you want to learn why.

Types#

Composer#

The main repository type is the composer repository. It uses a single packages.json file that contains all of the package metadata.

This is also the repository type that packagist uses. To reference a composer repository, just supply the path before the packages.json file. In case of packagist, that file is located at /packages.json, so the URL of the repository would be packagist.org. For example.org/packages.json the repository URL would be example.org.

packages#

The only required field is packages. The JSON structure is as follows:

{
    "packages": {
        "vendor/package-name": {
            "dev-master": { @composer.json },
            "1.0.x-dev": { @composer.json },
            "0.0.1": { @composer.json },
            "1.0.0": { @composer.json }
        }
    }
}

The @composer.json marker would be the contents of the composer.json from that package version including as a minimum:

Here is a minimal package definition:

{
    "name": "smarty/smarty",
    "version": "3.1.7",
    "dist": {
        "url": "http://www.smarty.net/files/Smarty-3.1.7.zip",
        "type": "zip"
    }
}

It may include any of the other fields specified in the schema.

notify-batch#

The notify-batch field allows you to specify an URL that will be called every time a user installs a package. The URL can be either an absolute path (that will use the same domain as the repository) or a fully qualified URL.

An example value:

{
    "notify-batch": "/downloads/"
}

For example.org/packages.json containing a monolog/monolog package, this would send a POST request to example.org/downloads/ with following JSON request body:

{
    "downloads": [
        {"name": "monolog/monolog", "version": "1.2.1.0"},
    ]
}

The version field will contain the normalized representation of the version number.

This field is optional.

includes#

For larger repositories it is possible to split the packages.json into multiple files. The includes field allows you to reference these additional files.

An example:

{
    "includes": {
        "packages-2011.json": {
            "sha1": "525a85fb37edd1ad71040d429928c2c0edec9d17"
        },
        "packages-2012-01.json": {
            "sha1": "897cde726f8a3918faf27c803b336da223d400dd"
        },
        "packages-2012-02.json": {
            "sha1": "26f911ad717da26bbcac3f8f435280d13917efa5"
        }
    }
}

The SHA-1 sum of the file allows it to be cached and only re-requested if the hash changed.

This field is optional. You probably don't need it for your own custom repository.

provider-includes and providers-url#

For very large repositories like packagist.org using the so-called provider files is the preferred method. The provider-includes field allows you to list a set of files that list package names provided by this repository. The hash should be a sha256 of the files in this case.

The providers-url describes how provider files are found on the server. It is an absolute path from the repository root.

An example:

{
    "provider-includes": {
        "providers-a.json": {
            "sha256": "f5b4bc0b354108ef08614e569c1ed01a2782e67641744864a74e788982886f4c"
        },
        "providers-b.json": {
            "sha256": "b38372163fac0573053536f5b8ef11b86f804ea8b016d239e706191203f6efac"
        }
    },
    "providers-url": "/p/%package%$%hash%.json"
}

Those files contain lists of package names and hashes to verify the file integrity, for example:

{
    "providers": {
        "acme/foo": {
            "sha256": "38968de1305c2e17f4de33aea164515bc787c42c7e2d6e25948539a14268bb82"
        },
        "acme/bar": {
            "sha256": "4dd24c930bd6e1103251306d6336ac813b563a220d9ca14f4743c032fb047233"
        }
    }
}

The file above declares that acme/foo and acme/bar can be found in this repository, by loading the file referenced by providers-url, replacing %package% by the package name and %hash% by the sha256 field. Those files themselves just contain package definitions as described above.

This field is optional. You probably don't need it for your own custom repository.

stream options#

The packages.json file is loaded using a PHP stream. You can set extra options on that stream using the options parameter. You can set any valid PHP stream context option. See Context options and parameters for more information.

VCS#

VCS stands for version control system. This includes versioning systems like git, svn or hg. Composer has a repository type for installing packages from these systems.

Loading a package from a VCS repository#

There are a few use cases for this. The most common one is maintaining your own fork of a third party library. If you are using a certain library for your project and you decide to change something in the library, you will want your project to use the patched version. If the library is on GitHub (this is the case most of the time), you can simply fork it there and push your changes to your fork. After that you update the project's composer.json. All you have to do is add your fork as a repository and update the version constraint to point to your custom branch. For version constraint naming conventions see Libraries for more information.

Example assuming you patched monolog to fix a bug in the bugfix branch:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "vcs",
            "url": "https://github.com/igorw/monolog"
        }
    ],
    "require": {
        "monolog/monolog": "dev-bugfix"
    }
}

When you run php composer.phar update, you should get your modified version of monolog/monolog instead of the one from packagist.

Note that you should not rename the package unless you really intend to fork it in the long term, and completely move away from the original package. Composer will correctly pick your package over the original one since the custom repository has priority over packagist. If you want to rename the package, you should do so in the default (often master) branch and not in a feature branch, since the package name is taken from the default branch.

If other dependencies rely on the package you forked, it is possible to inline-alias it so that it matches a constraint that it otherwise would not. For more information see the aliases article.

Using private repositories#

Exactly the same solution allows you to work with your private repositories at GitHub and BitBucket:

{
    "require": {
        "vendor/my-private-repo": "dev-master"
    },
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "vcs",
            "url":  "git@bitbucket.org:vendor/my-private-repo.git"
        }
    ]
}

The only requirement is the installation of SSH keys for a git client.

Git alternatives#

Git is not the only version control system supported by the VCS repository. The following are supported:

To get packages from these systems you need to have their respective clients installed. That can be inconvenient. And for this reason there is special support for GitHub and BitBucket that use the APIs provided by these sites, to fetch the packages without having to install the version control system. The VCS repository provides dists for them that fetch the packages as zips.

The VCS driver to be used is detected automatically based on the URL. However, should you need to specify one for whatever reason, you can use git, svn or hg as the repository type instead of vcs.

If you set the no-api key to true on a github repository it will clone the repository as it would with any other git repository instead of using the GitHub API. But unlike using the git driver directly, composer will still attempt to use github's zip files.

Subversion Options#

Since Subversion has no native concept of branches and tags, Composer assumes by default that code is located in $url/trunk, $url/branches and $url/tags. If your repository has a different layout you can change those values. For example if you used capitalized names you could configure the repository like this:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "vcs",
            "url": "http://svn.example.org/projectA/",
            "trunk-path": "Trunk",
            "branches-path": "Branches",
            "tags-path": "Tags"
        }
    ]
}

If you have no branches or tags directory you can disable them entirely by setting the branches-path or tags-path to false.

If the package is in a sub-directory, e.g. /trunk/foo/bar/composer.json and /tags/1.0/foo/bar/composer.json, then you can make composer access it by setting the "package-path" option to the sub-directory, in this example it would be "package-path": "foo/bar/".

PEAR#

It is possible to install packages from any PEAR channel by using the pear repository. Composer will prefix all package names with pear-{channelName}/ to avoid conflicts. All packages are also aliased with prefix pear-{channelAlias}/

Example using pear2.php.net:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "pear",
            "url": "http://pear2.php.net"
        }
    ],
    "require": {
        "pear-pear2.php.net/PEAR2_Text_Markdown": "*",
        "pear-pear2/PEAR2_HTTP_Request": "*"
    }
}

In this case the short name of the channel is pear2, so the PEAR2_HTTP_Request package name becomes pear-pear2/PEAR2_HTTP_Request.

Note: The pear repository requires doing quite a few requests per package, so this may considerably slow down the installation process.

Custom vendor alias#

It is possible to alias PEAR channel packages with a custom vendor name.

Example:

Suppose you have a private PEAR repository and wish to use Composer to incorporate dependencies from a VCS. Your PEAR repository contains the following packages:

Without a vendor alias, Composer will use the PEAR channel name as the vendor portion of the package name:

Suppose at a later time you wish to migrate your PEAR packages to a Composer repository and naming scheme, and adopt the vendor name of foobar. Projects using your PEAR packages would not see the updated packages, since they have a different vendor name (foobar/IntermediatePackage vs pear-pear.foobar.repo/IntermediatePackage).

By specifying vendor-alias for the PEAR repository from the start, you can avoid this scenario and future-proof your package names.

To illustrate, the following example would get the BasePackage, TopLevelPackage1, and TopLevelPackage2 packages from your PEAR repository and IntermediatePackage from a Github repository:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "git",
            "url": "https://github.com/foobar/intermediate.git"
        },
        {
            "type": "pear",
            "url": "http://pear.foobar.repo",
            "vendor-alias": "foobar"
        }
    ],
    "require": {
        "foobar/TopLevelPackage1": "*",
        "foobar/TopLevelPackage2": "*"
    }
}

Package#

If you want to use a project that does not support composer through any of the means above, you still can define the package yourself by using a package repository.

Basically, you define the same information that is included in the composer repository's packages.json, but only for a single package. Again, the minimum required fields are name, version, and either of dist or source.

Here is an example for the smarty template engine:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "package",
            "package": {
                "name": "smarty/smarty",
                "version": "3.1.7",
                "dist": {
                    "url": "http://www.smarty.net/files/Smarty-3.1.7.zip",
                    "type": "zip"
                },
                "source": {
                    "url": "http://smarty-php.googlecode.com/svn/",
                    "type": "svn",
                    "reference": "tags/Smarty_3_1_7/distribution/"
                },
                "autoload": {
                    "classmap": ["libs/"]
                }
            }
        }
    ],
    "require": {
        "smarty/smarty": "3.1.*"
    }
}

Typically you would leave the source part off, as you don't really need it.

Note: This repository type has a few limitations and should be avoided whenever possible:

  • Composer will not update the package unless you change the version field.
  • Composer will not update the commit references, so if you use master as reference you will have to delete the package to force an update, and will have to deal with an unstable lock file.

Hosting your own#

While you will probably want to put your packages on packagist most of the time, there are some use cases for hosting your own repository.

For hosting your own packages, a native composer type of repository is recommended, which provides the best performance.

There are a few tools that can help you create a composer repository.

Packagist#

The underlying application used by packagist is open source. This means that you can just install your own copy of packagist, re-brand, and use it. It's really quite straight-forward to do. However due to its size and complexity, for most small and medium sized companies willing to track a few packages will be better off using Satis.

Packagist is a Symfony2 application, and it is available on GitHub. It uses composer internally and acts as a proxy between VCS repositories and the composer users. It holds a list of all VCS packages, periodically re-crawls them, and exposes them as a composer repository.

To set your own copy, simply follow the instructions from the packagist github repository.

Satis#

Satis is a static composer repository generator. It is a bit like an ultra- lightweight, static file-based version of packagist.

You give it a composer.json containing repositories, typically VCS and package repository definitions. It will fetch all the packages that are required and dump a packages.json that is your composer repository.

Check the satis GitHub repository and the Satis article for more information.

Artifact#

There are some cases, when there is no ability to have one of the previously mentioned repository types online, even the VCS one. Typical example could be cross-organisation library exchange through built artifacts. Of course, most of the times they are private. To simplify maintenance, one can simply use a repository of type artifact with a folder containing ZIP archives of those private packages:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "type": "artifact",
            "url": "path/to/directory/with/zips/"
        }
    ],
    "require": {
        "private-vendor-one/core": "15.6.2",
        "private-vendor-two/connectivity": "*",
        "acme-corp/parser": "10.3.5"
    }
}

Each zip artifact is just a ZIP archive with composer.json in root folder:

$ unzip -l acme-corp-parser-10.3.5.zip
composer.json
...

If there are two archives with different versions of a package, they are both imported. When an archive with a newer version is added in the artifact folder and you run update, that version will be imported as well and Composer will update to the latest version.

Disabling Packagist#

You can disable the default Packagist repository by adding this to your composer.json:

{
    "repositories": [
        {
            "packagist": false
        }
    ]
}

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