Skip to main content

Install a PHP Docker environment in a matter of seconds

Β· 4 min read
Markdown, WSL and Docker lover ~ PHP developer ~ Insatiable curious.

Install a PHP Docker environment in a matter of seconds

This article is the very short and straightforward version of PHP development in a devcontainer with preinstalled code quality tools. If you just want to follow a very few steps and get your PHP environment, this article is for you.

By following steps describe in this article, you'll obtain:

  • A Docker PHP environment so you can code using vscode,
  • The PHP composer package manager installed,
  • A few static analysis tool like php-cs-fixer, phpcs, phpcbf, sonarlint and Rector installed
  • A devcontainer ready-to-use environment.

Just follow the guide...

The aim of this article is to create a development environment (aka devcontainer)

Please refers to my other articles about Docker to see how to Dockerize the application and be able to run the application using Apache and a database service like PostgreSQL.

You have nothing and wish to create a fully new project​

1. Install the php_devcontainer skeleton​

For this blog article, I'll create a temporary folder in /tmp/devcontainer_php. Don't hesitate to update the path to something like ~/my_project to match your need.

mkdir /tmp/devcontainer_php && cd $_
curl -LOJ --silent
tar -xzvf php_devcontainer-main.tar.gz --strip-components 1 && rm -f php_devcontainer-main.tar.gz
Download a specific version

If you don't want to download the latest version but a given one, specify the tags like: curl -LOJ --silent

You've thus download code from my repo in your folder.

2. Open VSCode​

Start VSCode on your machine:

cd /tmp/devcontainer_php
code .

3. Switch to the Dev Container​

VSCode will automatically suggest opening a Dev Container. Click on the Reopen in Container button.

VSCode automatically suggest opening a Dev Container.

If you don't have this popup, just press CTRL+SHIFT+P to open the Command Palette and search for Dev Containers: Rebuild and Reopen in Dev Container and click on it.

VSCode will now take a while to build the Docker image then start a Docker container before you can work. It can take a few minutes depending on the speed of your machine.

You are ready to use tools​

For instance, press CTRL+ΓΉ to open the Terminal pane and type there /usr/local/bin/php-cs-fixer.phar fix --config /var/www/html/.config/.php-cs-fixer.php index.php to run PHP-CS-Fixer.


You can also run /usr/local/bin/phpcbf.phar --standard=/var/www/html/.config/phpcs.xml /var/www/html/index.php for reformating your code using PHP_CodeSniffer.

You can run Rector too by running vendor/bin/rector process index.php --config .config/rector.php.

As you can see, in just three actions you've downloaded and installed a functional PHP environment using Docker and VSCode.

You already have an existing project​

In a real-life use case, you already have a PHP project.

Start a terminal and open the folder where you've your codebase.

For this blog post, I'll download a very old learning Laravel codebase I've done years ago:

cd /tmp
git clone

So, my project will be in folder /tmp/laravel_todos.

In my project folder, now, I'll run:

cd /tmp/laravel_todos
curl -LOJ --silent
tar -xzvf php_devcontainer-1.0.0.tar.gz --strip-components 1 && rm -f php_devcontainer-1.0.0.tar.gz

This will download the PHP devcontainer files in my project.

I will run code . to open VSCode and like before, VSCode will suggests opening the folder in a Dev Container. Let's do this.

And voilΓ , I've Dockerized my PHP coding environment. In my case, I've made Laravel Todos in 2018, using PHP 7.1.3 and Laravel 5.x; an eternity then.

And like in the previous chapter, I can run the commands below to fix coding style issues and fixes all files in my repo:

/usr/local/bin/php-cs-fixer.phar fix --config /var/www/html/.config/.php-cs-fixer.php .
/usr/local/bin/phpcbf.phar --standard=/var/www/html/.config/phpcs.xml .

And I will be able to run Rector to refactor my entire codebase:

composer require rector/rector --dev
vendor/bin/rector process . --config .config/rector.php

but in my case, I can't right now because my Laravel Todos is an old one and I need first to make some changes to my composer.json file (upgrading PHP and Laravel versions first).