Environment management

As website developers, we noticed that we had a few problems. You may have the same problems:

  • On our development laptops, we have a number of sites, but the database connection details are the same for each of them. Why should we have to go through the installation process and re-enter them each time?
  • Each of those sites needed to be in development mode when we were editing them on our laptops, but in production mode when we deploy them to our servers. Additionally, our production host's database connection details will likely be different than our local server.

SilverStripe comes with a solution to this: the _ss_environment.php file. You can put a single _ss_environment.php file in your "projects" folder on your development box, and it will be used by each of your development sites.

Setting up your development machine with _ss_environment.php

In this example, we assume that you are managing multiple projects as subfolders of ~/Sites/, and that you can visit these at http://localhost/. For example, you might have a project at ~/Sites/myproject/, and visit it at http://localhost/myproject/.

Create a new file, ~/Sites/_ss_environment.php. Put the following content in it, editing the values of the "SSDATABASE..." and "SS_DEFAULTADMIN..." defines as appropriate.

/* What kind of environment is this: development, test, or live (ie, production)? */
define('SS_ENVIRONMENT_TYPE', 'dev/test/live');

/* Database connection */
define('SS_DATABASE_SERVER', 'localhost');
define('SS_DATABASE_USERNAME', 'root');

/* Configure a default username and password to access the CMS on all sites in this environment. */
define('SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_USERNAME', 'username');
define('SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_PASSWORD', 'password');

Now, edit each of your site's configuration file, usually mysite/_config.php. Delete all mention of $databaseConfig and Director::set_dev_servers, and instead make sure that you file starts like this.


global $project;
$project = 'mysite';

global $database;
$database = '(databasename)';

// Use _ss_environment.php file for configuration

How it works

The mechanism by which the _ss_environment.php files work is quite simple. Here's how it works:

  • At the beginning of SilverStripe's execution, the _ss_environment.php file is searched for, and if it is found, it's included. SilverStripe looks in all the parent folders of framework up to the server root (using the REAL location of the dir - see PHP realpath()):
  • The _ss_environment.php file sets a number of "define()".
  • "conf/ConfigureFromEnv.php" is included from within your mysite/_config.php. This file has a number of regular configuration commands that use those defines as their arguments. If you are curious, open up framework/conf/ConfigureFromEnv.php and see for yourself!

An Example

This is my _ss_environment.php file. I have it placed in /var, as each of the sites are in a subfolder of /var.

// These four define set the database connection details.
define('SS_DATABASE_CLASS', 'MySQLPDODatabase');
define('SS_DATABASE_SERVER', 'localhost');
define('SS_DATABASE_USERNAME', 'root');
define('SS_DATABASE_PASSWORD', '<password>');

// This sets a prefix, which is prepended to the $database variable. This is
// helpful mainly on shared hosts, when every database has a prefix.
define('SS_DATABASE_PREFIX', 'simon_');

// These two lines are a bit complicated. If I'm connecting to the server from
// or MyIP and I'm using a browser with a + in the UserAgent, the site
// is put in dev mode, otherwise it is put in live mode. Most sites would only
// need to put the site in either dev or live mode, thus wont need the IP checks
if(isset($_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR']) && ($_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'] == '' || ($_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'] == '<MyIP>' 
&& strpos($_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'], '+') !== false))) 
    define('SS_ENVIRONMENT_TYPE', 'dev');
    define('SS_ENVIRONMENT_TYPE', 'live');

// These two defines sets a default login which, when used, will always log
// you in as an admin, even creating one if none exist.
define('SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_USERNAME', '<email>');
define('SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_PASSWORD', '<password>');

// This causes errors to be written to the BASE_PATH/silverstripe.log file.
// Path must be relative to BASE_PATH
define('SS_ERROR_LOG', 'silverstripe.log');

// This is used by sake to know which directory points to which URL
$_FILE_TO_URL_MAPPING['/var/www'] = '';

Available Constants

Name Description
TEMP_FOLDER Absolute file path to store temporary files such as cached templates or the class manifest. Needs to be writeable by the webserver user. Defaults to silverstripe-cache in the webroot, and falls back to sys_get_temp_dir(). See getTempFolder() in framework/core/TempPath.php.
SS_DATABASE_CLASS The database class to use, MySQLPDODatabase, MySQLDatabase, MSSQLDatabase, etc. defaults to MySQLDatabase.
SS_DATABASE_SERVER The database server to use, defaulting to localhost.
SS_DATABASE_USERNAME The database username (mandatory).
SS_DATABASE_PASSWORD The database password (mandatory).
SS_DATABASE_PORT The database port.
SS_DATABASE_SUFFIX A suffix to add to the database name.
SS_DATABASE_PREFIX A prefix to add to the database name.
SS_DATABASE_TIMEZONE Set the database timezone to something other than the system timezone.
SS_DATABASE_NAME Set the database name. Assumes the $database global variable in your config is missing or empty.
SS_DATABASE_CHOOSE_NAME Boolean/Int. If defined, then the system will choose a default database name for you if one isn't give in the $database variable. The database name will be "SS_" followed by the name of the folder into which you have installed SilverStripe. If this is enabled, it means that the phpinstaller will work out of the box without the installer needing to alter any files. This helps prevent accidental changes to the environment. If SS_DATABASE_CHOOSE_NAME is an integer greater than one, then an ancestor folder will be used for the database name. This is handy for a site that's hosted from /sites/examplesite/www or /buildbot/allmodules-2.3/build. If it's 2, the parent folder will be chosen; if it's 3 the grandparent, and so on.
SS_DEPRECATION_ENABLED Enable deprecation notices for this environment.
SS_ENVIRONMENT_TYPE The environment type: dev, test or live.
SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_USERNAME The username of the default admin. This is a user with administrative privileges.
SS_DEFAULT_ADMIN_PASSWORD The password of the default admin. This will not be stored in the database.
SS_USE_BASIC_AUTH Protect the site with basic auth (good for test sites).
When using CGI/FastCGI with Apache, you will have to add the RewriteRule .* - [E=HTTP_AUTHORIZATION:%{HTTP:Authorization}] rewrite rule to your .htaccess file
SS_SEND_ALL_EMAILS_TO If you define this constant, all emails will be redirected to this address.
SS_SEND_ALL_EMAILS_FROM If you define this constant, all emails will be sent from this address.
SS_ERROR_LOG Relative path to the log file.
SS_CONFIGSTATICMANIFEST Set to SS_ConfigStaticManifest_Reflection to use the Silverstripe 4 Reflection config manifest (speed improvement during dev/build and ?flush)

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