# Development Environment

# Installing Composer

There's a big chance that you already have Composer installed. However, if you haven't installed Composer already, the quickest way to get up and running is by copying the script provided on the download page of Composer (opens new window). By copying and pasting the provided script in your command line, the composer.phar installer will be downloaded, run, and removed again. You can verify a successful installation by running composer --version. To update Composer to the latest version, run composer self-update.

# Package Skeleton

To start with developing a package, first, create an empty directory. It is not necessary to nest packages in an existing Laravel project. I would highly recommend organizing your packages separate from your (Laravel) projects for the sake of clarity.

For example, I store all packages in ~/packages/ and my Laravel apps live in ~/websites/.

# Composer.json

Let's start by creating a composer.json file in the root of your package directory, having a minimal configuration (as shown below). Replace all details from the example with your own.

It is best to be consistent with naming your packages. The standard convention is to use your GitHub / Gitlab / Bitbucket / etc.` username followed by a forward-slash ("/") and then a kebab cased version of your package name.

An example composer.json is highlighted below.

  "name": "johndoe/blogpackage",
  "description": "A demo package",
  "type": "library",
  "license": "MIT",
  "authors": [
      "name": "John Doe",
      "email": "john@doe.com"
  "require": {}

Alternatively, you can create your composer.json file by running composer init in your empty package directory.

If you're planning to publish the package, it is important to choose an appropriate package type (in our case, a "library") and license (e.g., "MIT"). Learn more about open source licenses at ChooseALicense.com (opens new window).

# Namespacing

Since we want to use the (conventional) src/ directory to store our code, we need to tell Composer to map the package's namespace to that specific directory when creating the autoloader (vendor/autoload.php).

We can register our namespace under the "psr-4" autoload key in the composer.json file as follows (replace the namespace with your own):


  "require": {},

  "autoload": {
    "psr-4": {
      "JohnDoe\\BlogPackage\\": "src"

# PSR-4 Autoloading

Now, you might wonder why we needed a "psr-4" key. PSR stands for PHP Standards Recommendations devised by the PHP Framework Interoperability Group (opens new window) (PHP-FIG). This group of 20 members, representing a cross-section of the PHP community, proposed a series of PSR's (opens new window).

In the list, PSR-4 represents a recommendation regarding autoloading classes from file paths, replacing the until then prevailing PSR-0 autoloading standard (opens new window).

The significant difference between PSR-0 and PSR-4 is that PSR-4 allows to map a base directory to a particular namespace and therefore permits shorter namespaces. I think this comment (opens new window) on StackOverflow has a clear description of how PSR-0 and PSR-4 work.


"autoload": {
    "psr-0": {
        "Book\\": "src/",
        "Vehicle\\": "src/"
  • Looking for Book\History\UnitedStates in src/Book/History/UnitedStates.php

  • Looking for Vehicle\Air\Wings\Airplane in src/Vehicle/Air/Wings/Airplane.php


"autoload": {
    "psr-4": {
        "Book\\": "src/",
        "Vehicle\\": "src/"
  • Looking for Book\History\UnitedStates in src/History/UnitedStates.php

  • Looking for Vehicle\Air\Wings\Airplane in src/Air/Wings/Airplane.php

# Importing the Package Locally

To help with development, you can require a local package in a local Laravel project.

If you have a local Laravel project, you can require your package locally by defining a custom so-called "repository" in the composer.json file of your Laravel application.

Add the following "repositories" key below the "scripts" section in composer.json file of your Laravel app (replace the "url" with the directory where your package lives):

  "scripts": { ... },

  "repositories": [
      "type": "path",
      "url": "../../packages/blogpackage"

You can now require your local package in the Laravel application using your chosen namespace of the package. Following our example, this would be:

composer require johndoe/blogpackage

Important: you will need to perform a composer update in your Laravel application whenever you make changes to the composer.json file of your package or any providers it registers.

# Orchestra Testbench

We now have a composer.json file and an empty src/ directory. However, we don't have access to any Laravel specific functionality provided by the Illuminate components.

To use these components in our package, we'll require the Orchestra Testbench (opens new window). Note that each version of the Laravel framework has a corresponding version of Orchestra Testbench. In this section, I'll assume we're developing a package for Laravel 8.0, which is the latest version at the moment of writing this section.

composer require --dev "orchestra/testbench=^6.0"

The full compatibility table of the Orchestra Testbench is shown below, taken from the original documentation (opens new window).

Laravel Testbench
8.x 6.x
7.x 5.x
6.x 4.x
5.8.x 3.8.x
5.7.x 3.7.x
5.6.x 3.6.x
5.5.x 3.5.x
5.4.x 3.4.x
5.3.x 3.3.x
5.2.x 3.2.x
5.1.x 3.1.x
5.0.x 3.0.x

With Orchestra Testbench installed, you'll find a vendor/orchestra/testbench-core directory, containing a laravel and src directory. The laravel directory resembles the structure of an actual Laravel application, and the src directory provides the Laravel helpers that involve interaction with the project's directory structure (for example, related to file manipulation).

Before each test, TestBench creates a testing environment including a fully booted (test) application. If we use the Orchestra TestBench's basic TestCase for our tests, the methods as provided by the CreatesApplication trait in the Orchestra\Testbench\Concerns namespace will be responsible for creating this test application. If we look at one of these methods, getBasePath(), we'll see it directly points to the laravel folder that comes with Orchestra Testbench.

// 'vendor/orchestra/testbench-core/src/Concerns/CreatesApplication.php'
 * Get base path.
 * @return string
protected function getBasePath()
    return \realpath(__DIR__.'/../../laravel');