Using Composer to Autoload ZF Modules

One aspect of Zend Framework 3, we paid particular focus on was leveraging the Composer ecosystem. We now provide a number of Composer plugins for handling things such as initial project installation, registering installed modules with the application, and more. It's the "more" I particularly want to talk about.

Registering modules on install

With ZF2, we were able to realize the ability to install third-party modules into existing applications, enabling a module ecosystem. The standard mantra for install has been:

  1. Install module: composer require some/module
  2. Register module with application: edit config/(application|modules).config.php and add Some\Module to the list of modules.

This second item has been problematic:

  • Easy to forget
  • Easy to introduce a typo

For the v3 release, we wanted to solve this if we could. We were able to do so via a Composer plugin, zend-component-installer.

Module authors may add some metadata to their package now, like the following:

"extra": {
  "zf": {
    "module": "Some\\Module"

and, if the plugin is present in the user's application, on installation, it will register the package as a module with the application! (Moreover, if you later remove the package, it will remove it!)

We also added rules to allow specifying a package as a component; in this case, the module is added to the top of the module list, to ensure that userland modules can override its settings.

This ability to make a common task turn-key via Composer makes me happy.

Autoloading your own modules via Composer

Recently, while working on Apigility, a collaborator made a suggestion: "We recommend using Composer for autoloading, and yet Apigility creates modules that use the default module autoloading capabilities; couldn't we create a utility for enabling Composer autoloading of a generated module?"

This turned out to be really easy to accomplish, and we ended up creating a new package, zfcampus/zf-composer-autoloading, to make it re-usable.

Let's say you've created a new module in your ZF or Apigility application, named Blog. Chances are, you put a Module.php file at the module's root, and it either contains a Blog\Module class, or requires a classfile from your source tree that will. Let's setup autoloading:

$ composer require --dev zfcampus/zf-composer-autoloading
$ ./vendor/bin/autoload-module-via-composer Blog


The package ships with only a vendor binary, and that does the following:

  • Adds an entry in your composer.json to autoload the module.
  • Regenerates the Composer autoloading rules.

It will autodetect the module type (PSR-0 or PSR-4) based on the detected directory structure, but also allows you to specify the type via a CLI flag. You can also tell it where your Composer binary is, if it's not on your path.

Once you're done, if you defined a getAutoloaderConfig() method in your module, you can now remove it, as it's redundant!

This tool will work with existing ZF2 and Apigility installs, of any version.

Composer all the things!