The ultimate Magento development environment

Time is money and therefore every developer should strive for an optimal setup in which he can operate the fastest. Since I began with Magento in 2008 a lot has changed tool-wise and I am constantly improving to find the optimum Magento local development setup.

Chris / / last updated on

The perfect Tools

Now let's have a look at which software pieces do you need for fast and qualitative development of Magento Extensions:

  • PhpStorm: since many years now the state-of-the-art IDE for PHP, this software is worth every penny and is continually updated every few months
  • Magicento: the plugin that makes PhpStorm incredibly useful for Magento by providing auto-completion, automatically generating module structure and many more features.
  • PHP Inspections (EA Extended): also a plugin for PhpStorm that massively supports you in writing correct, clean and effective code. I basically use this in conjunction with the code sniffer and the mess detector (see below)
  • PhpCodesniffer in combination with Magento ECG Coding Standards
  • Php Mess Detector: easily find duplicate code contents before someone other will find it
  • Xdebug with code coverage: run directly in PhpStorm you will get visual feedback about your code coverage
  • While in the good old days you had the Magento installation completely directly on your local PC, then switched to a Vagrant box with Magento and now we arrived at the beautiful container techniques like Docker. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful Docker is in my daily routine, especially when switching between different clients or extension developments, Magento versions, etc.
  • modman: this tools was created by one of the Magento gurus to help maintaining magento modules in different installations – very helpful for testing in different PHP/Magento/.. versions
  • n98-magerun: every Magento developer always has to do some repeating stuff like cache-flush, resetting admin password, install specific version with sample data, etc.; this tool is absolutely unbeatable in these things.
  • ngrok is a ideal tool if you have to access your local environment from the outside (like e.g. give test links to your clients, access APIs from third-party-services and so on)
  • a MacBook Pro ;-)

Magento 1 Docker Setup

As mentioned above Docker is a massive help in easily setting up a local Magento development environment and also switching between different PHP or Magento versions. Below you will find my perfect docker-compose.yml that I use for each Magento project.

The setup has the following features:

  • The Magento Docker image is based on FrankenPHP which is based on the Caddy Webserver bundled together with PHP and boy it is lightening fast - I have never seen a faster development environment!
  • It uses Mailpit to test local email delivery. Mailpit is also perfect in analyzing the email compatibility for different email clients (and there are many!)

Now let's have a look at the Docker Compose file:

version: "3.4"

    build: ./frankenphp
      - "80:80"
      - "443:443"
      - "mysql:mysql"
      - "cache:cache"
      - "mailhog:mailhog"
      - ../htdocs/:${WEBSERVER_DOCROOT}/htdocs
      - ../src/:${WEBSERVER_DOCROOT}/src:delegated
      - ../vendor/:${WEBSERVER_DOCROOT}/vendor
      - ./magento/local.xml:${WEBSERVER_DOCROOT}/htdocs/app/etc/local.xml:ro

    image: mariadb:10.6
     - "3306"
      - /var/lib/mysql

    image: redis:latest

    image: axllent/mailpit
      - "1025:1025"
      - "8025:8025"

ddev Environments with Magento

At the moment I am exploring ddev for all of my development environments as it offers a very, very easy and quick setup - also across different operating systems. This saves yourself a lot of time dealing with Docker containers and comes with a lot of pre-build images out of the box.

If you have a Magento or OpenMage project all you have to do is ddev config followed by a ddev start to launch a fully working local development environment including Xdebug, Mailpit and many more features within minutes!

Using ddev and Magerun

Next to ddev another indispensible tool is Magerun. As Magento 1 / OpenMage lacks a CLI tool this saves you a lot of clicking in the Magento backend and offers useful commands for e.g. for use cases like

  • resetting passwords,
  • generating PHPStorm IDE helper files,
  • activating maintenance mode
  • and many, many more.

In addition you can also easily add your own Magerun commands or use some of the community-provided ones.

In order to be able to call Magerun directly from your ddev host, we will create a custom ddev command for it.

Therefore all we have to do is create the file .ddev/commands/web/magerun in our Magento project folder with the following content:


## Description: Execute n98-magerun
## Usage: magerun
## Example: "ddev magerun"

php -d error_reporting="E_ALL ^E_DEPRECATED" /usr/local/bin/n98-magerun.phar "$@"

Then in order to make the Magerun phar file available in the Docker container, we have to create the file .ddev/web-build/Dockerfile with this content:

    curl -sS -o n98-magerun.phar https://files.magerun.net/n98-magerun.phar &&  \
    curl -sS -o n98-magerun.phar.sha256 https://files.magerun.net/sha256.php?file=n98-magerun.phar && \
    shasum -a 256 -c n98-magerun.phar.sha256 && \
    chmod +x n98-magerun.phar && \
    mv n98-magerun.phar /usr/local/bin/n98-magerun.phar

And that's it! Then you can call all Magerun commands directly from the host simply by typing ddev magerun.

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