Complete Idiots Guide to using Composer with CakePHP

I recently wanted to use Miles Johnson’s Forum Plugin for CakePHP in a project, and when I came to install it, saw that he recommends (insists on, in fact) using Composer to do this, to take care of ensuring all the dependencies are installed. Never having used Composer before, I took a look at his post on using Composer with CakePHP, which probably counts as an idiots guide for most people, but still wasn’t basic enough for me. Therefore, I thought I would write a complete idiots guide!

The steps I had to go through to get it working were as follows:

  • Install Composer – I am on Windows, so just downloaded and ran the Windows installer, which seemed to work fine
  • Ensure that the openssl extension is enabled in php.ini, i.e. uncomment this line: extension=php_openssl.dll
  • Create a composer.json file in your app directory and add the dependencies, e.g. for the Forum plugin:
       "config": {
          "vendor-dir": "Vendor"
       "require": {
          "mjohnson/forum": "5.*"
  • Run composer install in the app directory. This should install all of the dependencies (in the Vendor or Plugin directories of your app, as appropriate) and create an autoload.php file in the Vendor directory
  • Add the following at the start of your Config/core.php file to make use of Composer’s autoloading capabilities:
    require_once dirname(__DIR__) . '/Vendor/autoload.php';

That should deal with all of the dependencies, in this case for the Forum Plugin. It is still necessary to load the Plugins in the Config/bootstrap.php file. For the Forum Plugin, this is does as follows:

CakePlugin::load('Utility', array('bootstrap' => true, 'routes' => true));
CakePlugin::load('Admin', array('bootstrap' => true, 'routes' => true));
CakePlugin::load('Forum', array('bootstrap' => true, 'routes' => true));