Composer Tutorial

A walk through of various Composer tasks.

Composer is a dependency manager for PHP. It downloads public PHP packages (projects, libraries, etc) from

Each step in this tutorial goes over basic Composer usage. The composer.json files in each directory should be usable, and each directory will have a README file explaining the concepts and commands for that step.

If you find any mistakes, please open an issue or create a pull request. Don't assume I know what I'm doing.™


The steps in this tutorial are based on building a Drupal 8 project with Composer, since that was the original motivation for the tutorial. However, most of what is explained is specific to Composer, not Drupal, so the information should still be relevant to any PHP project. And since the Drupal 8 use-case is more complex than simple "Hello, World!" functionality, it shows some of Composer's possibilities.

Before Starting

You need to have Composer installed. This will vary based on operating system. See the Composer docs for instructions.

It is important to note that the PHP version you use can matter. Composer uses whichever version your command line uses. Run php -v to see which version you have. And, be consistent with your project. If your application and web server will use PHP 7, upgrade your command line to use 7, as well.

Using the composer Command

In this tutorial, all commands begin with the composer command. If this does not work for you, you many have to manually setup an alias or move Composer's .phar file. Composer's installation instructions, linked above, walk you through that process.


There are two terms that cause some confusion and sometimes are used interchangeably - package and project. In this guide, package refers to anything Composer downloads. A PHP library, project, etc. Project refers to the project you are building.

Composer Tutorial

A walk through of various Composer tasks

Composer Tutorial Info

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😎 Author david-hernandez