PATH settings for Laravel

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For Laravel development, we often find ourselves typing commands like ./vendor/bin/pest to run project-specific commands.

We don't need to!

To help here, we can update our Mac (or Linux) $PATH variable.

What's $PATH?

The $PATH variable sets the directories your system looks for when finding commands to run.

For example, we can type which <cmd> to find the path to any given command:

$ which git
/usr/local/bin/git

My system knew to find git in /usr/local/bin because /usr/local/bin is one directory set in my $PATH!

You can echo out your path right now:

# Output the whole path
echo $PATH
 
# For human-readability, split out each
# directory into a new line:
echo "$PATH" | tr ':' '\n'

Relative Directories in PATH

We can edit our $PATH variable to add in whatever directories we want!

One extremely handy trick is to set relative directories in your $PATH variable.

Two examples are adding ./vendor/bin and ./node_modules/.bin:

# In your ~/.zshrc, ~/.bashrc or, ~/.bash_profile or similar
# Each directory is separated by a colon
PATH=./vendor/bin:./node_modules/.bin:$PATH

Here we prepended our two new paths to the existing $PATH variable. Now, no matter what Laravel application we're cded into, we can run pest and know we're running ./vendor/bin/pest, phpunit to run ./vendor/bin/phpunit (and the same for any given Node command in ./node_modules/.bin).

We can also set the current directory . in our $PATH (if it's not already set - it may be):

# In your ~/.zshrc, ~/.bashrc or, ~/.bash_profile or similar
# Each directory is separated by a colon
# Here we also set the current directory in our PATH
PATH=.:./vendor/bin:./node_modules/.bin:$PATH

This way we can type artisan instead of ./artisan or php artisan.

These are the settings I have in place in Chipper CI so users can run pest or phpunit without having to worry about where the command exists in their CI environments.

Notes

Order also matters in $PATH. When a command is being searched for, the earlier directories are searched first. The system will use the first command found - this means you can over-ride a system command by placing it in a directory earlier in $PATH. That's why we prepend ./vendor/bin and ./node_modules/.bin into $PATH instead of append it.

You can find all locations of a command like this:

$ which -a git
 
git is /usr/local/bin/git
git is /usr/bin/git
git is /usr/local/bin/git
git is /usr/bin/git

Lastly, in all cases here, the commands should have executable permissions to work like this. This is something to keep in mind when creating your own commands, such as a custom bash script.

Chris Fidao photo

Teaching coding and servers at CloudCasts and Servers for Hackers. Co-founder of Chipper CI.

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