Coding Guidelines

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

Code Style

  • Follow the PSR-1 & PSR-2 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.
  • Put a blank line before return statements.

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() to indicate whether the check should be type-script (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 keyword (Foo::class) rather than as a string ('some\nmspace\Foo') or yii\base\BaseObject::className().

  • 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) PhpStorm plugin can help you locate and fix these sorts of best practice issues.

Namespaces & Class Names

  • Follow the PSR-4 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

Argument Types

Use PHP 7.0-supported argument type declarations for all function arguments whenever possible. The only exceptions should be:

  • Magic methods (e.g. __toString())
  • Arguments that accept 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, the argument should have a type declaration for the non-null type, and a default value of null.

public function foo(string $bar = null)


Do this even if there are required arguments following the argument that accepts null. This is the only way to enforce an argument type while also allowing null in PHP.

Return Types

Use PHP 7.0-supported return type declarations for all methods whenever possible. The only exceptions should be:

  • Magic methods (e.g. __toString())
  • Methods with multiple return types
  • Methods that override a parent class’s method, where the parent method doesn’t have a return type
  • Methods that are required by an interface, and the interface method doesn’t have a return type


  • 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. 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;


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;


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.



DB Queries

  • Always wrap table names with {{% and }} (e.g. {{%entries}}) so it gets properly quoted and the table prefix gets inserted.
  • Use the ['col1', 'col2'] syntax with select() and groupBy() instead of 'col1, col2', even if 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'.


  • Always use Yii’s declarative condition syntax 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() 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();