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Nov 2018 Changes to .env & How to Update

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Nov 2018 Changes to .env & How to Update

In November 2018, several changes were made to the core Symfony recipes related to the .env file. These changes make working with environment variables easier and more consistent - especially when writing functional tests.

If your app was started before November 2018, your app does not require any changes to keep working. However, if/when you are ready to take advantage of these improvements, you will need to make a few small updates.

What Changed Exactly?

But first, what changed? On a high-level, not much. Here’s a summary of the most important changes:

  • A) The .env.dist file no longer exists. Its contents should be moved to your .env file (see the next point).
  • B) The .env file is now committed to your repository. It was previously ignored via the .gitignore file (the updated recipe does not ignore this file). Because this file is committed, it should contain non-sensitive, default values. Basically, the .env.dist file was moved to .env.
  • C) A .env.local file can now be created to override values in .env for your machine. This file is ignored in the new .gitignore.
  • D) When testing, your .env file is now read, making it consistent with all other environments. You can also create a .env.test file for test-environment overrides.
  • E) One further change to the recipe in January 2019 means that your .env files are always loaded, even if you set an APP_ENV=prod environment variable. The purpose is for the .env files to define default values that you can override if you want to with real environment values.

There are a few other improvements, but these are the most important. To take advantage of these, you will need to modify a few files in your existing app.

Updating My Application

If you created your application after November 15th 2018, you don’t need to make any changes! Otherwise, here is the list of changes you’ll need to make - these changes can be made to any Symfony 3.4 or higher app:

  1. Update your public/index.php file to add the code of the public/index.php file provided by Symfony. If you’ve customized this file, make sure to keep those changes (but add the rest of the changes made by Symfony).

  2. Update your bin/console file to add the code of the bin/console file provided by Symfony.

  3. Update .gitignore:

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    # .gitignore
    # ...
    
    ###> symfony/framework-bundle ###
    - /.env
    + /.env.local
    + /.env.local.php
    + /.env.*.local
    
    # ...
    
  4. Rename .env to .env.local and .env.dist to .env:

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    # Unix
    $ mv .env .env.local
    $ git mv .env.dist .env
    
    # Windows
    C:\> move .env .env.local
    C:\> git mv .env.dist .env
    

    You can also update the comment on the top of .env to reflect the new changes.

  5. If you’re using PHPUnit, you will also need to create a new .env.test file and update your phpunit.xml.dist file so it loads the tests/bootstrap.php file.

This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.