Common Problems

From time to time, things will go wrong. Here's a few things to try when you're confused.

The output shows only "Website Error"

This first and foremost means that your environment is set to "live mode" (see [environment-management]), which disallows detailed error messages for security reasons. You'll typically need to get your environment into "dev mode" to see more information.

If you can log-in to the CMS as an administrator, append ?isDev=1 to any URL to temporarily set your browsing session into "dev mode". If you can't log-in in the first place because of the error, please configure an SS_ENVIRONMENT_TYPE through [environment-management] (don't forget to remove it afterwards!).

On "live" environments, the ?isDev=1 solution is preferred, as it means that your other visitors don't see ugly (and potentially security sensitive) PHP errors as well.

mod_rewrite isn't working but it's installed (prior to SilverStripe 3.1.11)

Due to some changes to mod_dir in Apache 2.4 (precedence of handlers), index.php gets added to the URLs as soon as you navigate to the homepage of your site. To fix this place the following within the mod_rewrite section of your .htaccess file:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
    # Turn off index.php handling requests to the homepage fixes issue in apache >=2.4
    <IfModule mod_dir.c>
        DirectoryIndex disabled
# ------ # {#}

My templates don't update on page refresh

Putting ?flush=1 on the end of any SilverStripe URL will clear out all cached content; this is a pretty common solution to a lot of development problems. Here are some specifics situations:

  • You've created a new SS or PHP file
  • You've edited a nested template (one inserted with the <% include %> tag)
  • You've published a new copy of your site
  • You've upgraded your version of SilverStripe

A SQL query fails with "Column not found" or "Table not found"

Whenever you change the model definitions in PHP (e.g. when adding a property to the $db array, creating a new page type), SilverStripe will need to update the database. Visiting http://localhost/dev/build in your browser runs a script that will check the database schema and update it as necessary. Putting ?flush=1 on the end makes sure that nothing that's linked to the old database structure will be carried over. If things aren't saving, pages aren't loading, or other random things aren't working it's possible that the database hasn't been updated to handle the new code. Here are some specifics situations:

  • You've created a new page type / other data object type
  • You've change the type of one of your database fields
  • You've published a new copy of your site
  • You've upgraded your version of SilverStripe

My edited CMS content doesn't show on the website

If you've set up your site and it used to be working, but now it's suddenly totally broken, you may have forgotten to publish your draft content. Go to the CMS and use the "publish" button. You can visit admin/pages/publishall to publish every page on the site, if that's easier. Note that this will only work on smaller websites.

I can see unparsed PHP output in my browser

Please make sure all code inside *.php files is wrapped in classes. Due to the way ClassManifest includes all files with this extension, any procedural code will be executed on every call. The most common error here is putting a test.php/phpinfo.php file in the document root. See datamodel and controllers for ways how to structure your code.

Also, please check that you have PHP enabled on the webserver, and you're running PHP 5.1 or later. The web-based SilverStripe installer can help you with this.

I've got file permission problems during installation

The php installer needs to be able to write files during installation, which should be restricted again afterwards. It needs to create/have write-access to:

  • The main installation directory (for creating .htaccess file and assets directory)

  • The app/ folder (to create _config.php)

  • After the install, the assets directory is the only directory that needs write access.

  • Image thumbnails will not show in the CMS if permission is not given If you are running on a server instance where users other than the webserver user will need read / write access to files in the assets folder, then you should do one of the below:

  • Ensure that all server users that modify this file belong to the same group

  • Modify the permissions that SilverStripe uses to write to a more permissive setting (see below)

It may be necessary to manually set the original permissions, and owner user/group of your assets folder on initial deployment.

For more information on understanding and determining file permissions, please see wikipedia on unix permissions.

Modifying write permissions of files

By default all files and .htaccess are written with permission 0664. You could enable other users to access these files with the below config. Note: Please adjust the values below to those appropriate for your server configuration. You may require 0666 for combined files generated during requests where they are cleared or refreshed only during a flush.


Name: myassetperms
      public: 0666 # Replace with your desired permission for files
      public: 0777 # Replace with your desired permission for folders

Note: public key applies to all files whether they are protected or public; This is a flag internal to Flysystem, and file protection is applied by SilverStripe on top of these permissions.

I have whitespace before my HTML output, triggering quirks mode or preventing cookies from being set

SilverStripe only uses class declarations in PHP files, and doesn't output any content directly outside of these declarations. It's easy to accidentally add whitespace or any other characters before the <?php opening bracket at the start of the document, or after the ?> closing braket at the end of the document.

Since we're dealing with hundreds of included files, identifying these mistakes manually can be tiresome. The best way to detect whitespace is to look through your version control system for any uncommitted changes. If that doesn't work out, here's a little script to run checks in all relevant PHP files. Save it as check.php into your webroot, and run it as php check.php (or open it in your browser). After using the script (and fixing errors afterwards), please remember to remove it again.

// Check for whitespace around PHP brackets which show in output,
// and hence can break HTML rendering and HTTP operations.
$path = dirname(__FILE__);
$files = new RecursiveIteratorIterator(new RecursiveDirectoryIterator($path), RecursiveIteratorIterator::SELF_FIRST);
$matched = false;
foreach($files as $name => $file){
    if($file->getExtension() != 'php') continue;
    if(preg_match('/thirdparty|vendor/',$file->getPathname())) continue;
    $content = file_get_contents($file->getPathname());
    if(preg_match('/^[[:blank:]]+<\?' . 'php/', $content)) {
        echo sprintf("%s: Space before opening bracket\n", $file->getPathname());
        $matched = true;
    if(preg_match('/^\?' . '>\n?[[:blank:]]+/m', $content)) {
        echo sprintf("%s: Space after closing bracket\n", $file->getPathname());
        $matched = true;

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