Setting up Composer and PHPCodesniffer on Atom Editor on macOS

Here is a guide on how to get PHPCodesniffer going on Atom text editor using the WordPress code standards, this will be done via adding PHPCodesniffer via Composer, you can also add PHPCodesniffer via Pear or Homebrew, I used to have it running via Pear but have found it to be not as reliable.

Install Composer

Open your Terminal application, you can pretty much run this from any location that you have permissions to read and write, your home or project directory will be ideal…

php -r "copy('', 'composer-setup.php');"
php -r "if (hash_file('SHA384', 'composer-setup.php') === '669656bab3166a7aff8a7506b8cb2d1c292f042046c5a994c43155c0be6190fa0355160742ab2e1c88d40d5be660b410') { echo 'Installer verified'; } else { echo 'Installer corrupt'; unlink('composer-setup.php'); } echo PHP_EOL;"
php composer-setup.php
php -r "unlink('composer-setup.php');"

When installing Composer be sure to check the original install instructions as the SHA file will change with each version release – the one I have used is for version 1.5.1

Making Composer Global

The above install will make Composer local to the directory, it is best to make it globally available, to make Composer available from anywhere on your filing system move Composer, to a known directory that is in your path, so from the directory you installed it move it into /usr/local/bin

mv composer.phar /usr/local/bin/composer

Installing PHPCodesniffer with Composer

Once Composer is installed globally, time to install PHPCodesniffer, run on the command line…

composer global require "squizlabs/php_codesniffer=*"

Output should be similar to…

./composer.json has been created
 Loading composer repositories with package information
 Updating dependencies (including require-dev)

- Installing squizlabs/php_codesniffer (2.7.0)
 Downloading: 100%

Writing lock file
 Generating autoload files

Check your Composer Global Packages

To check your package run…

composer global show

You should get output similar to…

squizlabs/php_codesniffer 3.0.2 PHP_CodeSniffer tokenizes PHP

Adding PHPCodesniffer to your shell path

Add the home invisible Composer directory  path to your shell path, which will be in your .bash_profile or .bashrc file


You can add it with the below… copy and past in Terminal

cat << EOF >> ~/.bash_profile
# Add PHPCS (phpcs)
export PATH="$PATH:~/.composer/vendor/bin"

Either relaunch your Terminal,  or run the source command on your config file for the new path to be registered.


Check PHPCodesniffer now running

The PHPCodesniffer operates on the command line as phpcs, run…

phpcs -i

You will now see a list of PHP code standard configs – now to add the WordPress one.


Add WordPress Code Standards

Next up is to clone the git repo of the WP Code standards which we will add to the phpcs app, I just am going to create a directory in my home account called codestandards and clone it into a directory called wpcs (short for WordPress Code Standards).

cd ~/codestandards
git clone [email protected]:WordPress-Coding-Standards/WordPress-Coding-Standards.git wpcs


Add WP Standards (wpcs) to the existing PHPCodesniffer – phpcs

On the command line run…

phpcs --config-set installed_paths /Users/{yourname}/codestandards/wpcs

Now check what standards PHPCS can use…

phpcs -i

Output should now include the 4 WordPress code standrds…

The installed coding standards are MySource, PEAR, PHPCS, PSR1, PSR2, Squiz, Zend, WordPress, WordPress-Core, WordPress-Docs, WordPress-Extra and WordPress-VIP

You can use phpcs via the command line in the format below, the command phpcs followed by the coding standard followed by the target file

phpcs --standard=WordPress testfile.php

But much better to set up in a code editor like Atom.

Install the Atom Editor PHPCS Linter Package

Install the linter-phpcs package, in Atom > Settings find phpcs… and install



And in the settings of the package add in the path to the phpcs binary, which is the same as the path entered in your shell path earlier and preferred WordPress code standard, I put in WordPress-Core in this example.

For the path input here I have used an absolute path, I had issues with the relative one.


With the package enabled you now can see the  all PHPCS errors and warnings.




That’s it, just disable the linter package to turn off the errors when you are done.

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