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    wp-env lets you easily set up a local WordPress environment for building and testing plugins and themes. It's simple to install and requires no configuration.

    Quick (tl;dr) instructions

    Ensure that Docker is running, then:

    $ cd /path/to/a/wordpress/plugin
    $ npm -g i @wordpress/env
    $ wp-env start

    The local environment will be available at http://localhost:8888 (Username: admin, Password: password).


    wp-env requires Docker to be installed. There are instructions available for installing Docker on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

    Node.js and npm are required. The latest LTS version of Node.js is used to develop wp-env and is recommended.


    Installation as a global package

    After confirming that the prerequisites are installed, you can install wp-env globally like so:

    $ npm -g i @wordpress/env

    You're now ready to use wp-env!

    Installation as a local package

    If your project already has a package.json, it's also possible to use wp-env as a local package. First install wp-env locally as a dev dependency:

    $ npm i @wordpress/env --save-dev

    At this point, you can use the local, project-level version of wp-env via npx, a utility automatically installed with npm.npx finds binaries like wp-env installed through node modules. As an example: npx wp-env start --update.

    If you don't wish to use npx, modify your package.json and add an extra command to npm scripts (

    "scripts": {
    	"wp-env": "wp-env"

    When installing wp-env in this way, all wp-env commands detailed in these docs must be prefixed with npm run, for example:

    # You must add another double dash to pass flags to the script (wp-env) rather than to npm itself
    $ npm run wp-env start -- --update

    instead of:

    $ wp-env start --update


    Starting the environment

    First, ensure that Docker is running. You can do this by clicking on the Docker icon in the system tray or menu bar.

    Then, change to a directory that contains a WordPress plugin or theme:

    $ cd ~/gutenberg

    Then, start the local environment:

    $ wp-env start

    Finally, navigate to http://localhost:8888 in your web browser to see WordPress running with the local WordPress plugin or theme running and activated. Default login credentials are username: admin password: password.

    Stopping the environment

    To stop the local environment:

    $ wp-env stop

    Troubleshooting common problems

    Many common problems can be fixed by running through the following troubleshooting steps in order:

    1. Check that wp-env is running

    First, check that wp-env is running. One way to do this is to have Docker print a table with the currently running containers:

    $ docker ps

    In this table, by default, you should see three entries: wordpress with port 8888, tests-wordpress with port 8889 and mariadb with port 3306.

    2. Check the port number

    By default wp-env uses port 8888, meaning that the local environment will be available at http://localhost:8888.

    You can configure the port that wp-env uses so that it doesn't clash with another server by specifying the WP_ENV_PORT environment variable when starting wp-env:

    $ WP_ENV_PORT=3333 wp-env start

    Running docker ps and inspecting the PORTS column allows you to determine which port wp-env is currently using.

    You may also specify the port numbers in your .wp-env.json file, but the environment variables take precedent.

    3. Restart wp-env with updates

    Restarting wp-env will restart the underlying Docker containers which can fix many issues.

    To restart wp-env, just run wp-env start again. It will automatically stop and start the container. If you also pass the --update argument, it will download updates and configure WordPress again.

    $ wp-env start --update

    4. Restart Docker

    Restarting Docker will restart the underlying Docker containers and volumes which can fix many issues.

    To restart Docker:

    1. Click on the Docker icon in the system tray or menu bar.
    2. Select Restart.

    Once restarted, start wp-env again:

    $ wp-env start

    5. Reset the database

    Resetting the database which the local environment uses can fix many issues, especially when they are related to the WordPress installation.

    To reset the database:

    ⚠️ WARNING: This will permanently delete any posts, pages, media, etc. in the local WordPress installation.

    $ wp-env clean all
    $ wp-env start

    6. Destroy everything and start again 🔥

    When all else fails, you can use wp-env destroy to forcibly remove all of the underlying Docker containers, volumes, and files. This will allow you to start from scratch.

    To do so:

    ⚠️ WARNING: This will permanently delete any posts, pages, media, etc. in the local WordPress installation.

    $ wp-env destroy
    # This new instance is a fresh start with no existing data:
    $ wp-env start

    7. Debug mode and inspecting the generated dockerfile.

    wp-env uses docker behind the scenes. Inspecting the generated docker-compose file can help to understand what's going on.

    Start wp-env in debug mode

    wp-env start --debug

    wp-env will output its config which includes dockerComposeConfigPath.

    ℹ Config:
    	"dockerComposeConfigPath": "/Users/$USERNAME/.wp-env/5a619d332a92377cd89feb339c67b833/docker-compose.yml",

    Using included WordPress PHPUnit test files

    Out of the box wp-env includes the WordPress' PHPUnit test files corresponding to the version of WordPress installed. There is an environment variable, WP_TESTS_DIR, which points to the location of these files within each container. By including these files in the environment, we remove the need for you to use a package or install and mount them yourself. If you do not want to use these files, you should ignore the WP_TESTS_DIR environment variable and load them from the location of your choosing.

    Customizing the wp-tests-config.php file

    While we do provide a default wp-tests-config.php file within the environment, there may be cases where you want to use your own. WordPress provides a WP_TESTS_CONFIG_FILE_PATH constant that you can use to change the wp-config.php file used for testing. Set this to a desired path in your bootstrap.php file and the file you've chosen will be used instead of the one included in the environment.

    Using Xdebug

    Xdebug is installed in the wp-env environment, but it is turned off by default. To enable Xdebug, you can use the --xdebug flag with the wp-env start command. Here is a reference to how the flag works:

    # Sets the Xdebug mode to "debug" (for step debugging):
    wp-env start --xdebug
    # Sets the Xdebug mode to "off":
    wp-env start
    # Enables each of the Xdebug modes listed:
    wp-env start --xdebug=profile,trace,debug

    When you're running wp-env using npm run, like when working in the Gutenberg repo or when wp-env is a local project dependency, don't forget to add an extra double dash before the --xdebug command:

    npm run wp-env start -- --xdebug
    # Alternatively, use npx:
    npx wp-env start --xdebug

    If you forget about that, the --xdebug parameter will be passed to npm instead of the wp-env start command and it will be ignored.

    You can see a reference on each of the Xdebug modes and what they do in the Xdebug documentation.

    Since we are only installing Xdebug 3, Xdebug is only supported for PHP versions greater than or equal to 7.2 (the default). Xdebug won't be installed if phpVersion is set to a legacy version.

    Xdebug IDE support

    To connect to Xdebug from your IDE, you can use these IDE settings. This bit of JSON was tested for VS Code's launch.json format (which you can learn more about here) along with this PHP Debug extension. Its path mapping also points to a specific plugin -- you should update this to point to the source you are working with inside of the wp-env instance.

    You should only have to translate port and pathMappings to the format used by your own IDE.

      "name": "Listen for XDebug",
      "type": "php",
      "request": "launch",
      "port": 9003,
      "pathMappings": {
        "/var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/gutenberg": "${workspaceFolder}/"

    After you create a .vscode/launch.json file in your repository, you probably want to add it to your global gitignore file so that it stays private for you and is not committed to the repository.

    Once your IDEs Xdebug settings have been enabled, you should just have to launch the debugger, put a breakpoint on any line of PHP code, and then refresh your browser!

    Here is a summary:

    1. Start wp-env with xdebug enabled: wp-env start --xdebug
    2. Install a suitable Xdebug extension for your IDE if it does not include one already.
    3. Configure the IDE debugger to use port 9003 and the correct source files in wp-env.
    4. Launch the debugger and put a breakpoint on any line of PHP code.
    5. Refresh the URL wp-env is running at and the breakpoint should trigger.

    Command reference

    wp-env creates generated files in the wp-env home directory. By default, this is ~/.wp-env. The exception is Linux, where files are placed at ~/wp-env for compatibility with Snap Packages. The wp-env home directory contains a subdirectory for each project named /$md5_of_project_path. To change the wp-env home directory, set the WP_ENV_HOME environment variable. For example, running WP_ENV_HOME="something" wp-env start will download the project files to the directory ./something/$md5_of_project_path (relative to the current directory).

    wp-env start

    The start command installs and initializes the WordPress environment, which includes downloading any specified remote sources. By default, wp-env will not update or re-configure the environment except when the configuration file changes. Tell wp-env to update sources and apply the configuration options again with wp-env start --update. This will not overwrite any existing content.

    wp-env start
    Starts WordPress for development on port 8888 (override with WP_ENV_PORT) and
    tests on port 8889 (override with WP_ENV_TESTS_PORT). The current working
    directory must be a WordPress installation, a plugin, a theme, or contain a
    .wp-env.json file. After first install, use the '--update' flag to download
    updates to mapped sources and to re-apply WordPress configuration options.
      --help     Show help                                                 [boolean]
      --version  Show version number                                       [boolean]
      --debug    Enable debug output.                     [boolean] [default: false]
      --update   Download source updates and apply WordPress configuration.
                                                          [boolean] [default: false]
      --xdebug   Enables Xdebug. If not passed, Xdebug is turned off. If no modes
                 are set, uses "debug". You may set multiple Xdebug modes by passing
                 them in a comma-separated list: `--xdebug=develop,coverage`. See
        for information about
                 Xdebug modes.                                              [string]

    wp-env stop

    wp-env stop
    Stops running WordPress for development and tests and frees the ports.

    wp-env clean [environment]

    wp-env clean [environment]
    Cleans the WordPress databases.
      environment  Which environments' databases to clean.
                [string] [choices: "all", "development", "tests"] [default: "tests"]

    wp-env run [container] [command]

    The run command can be used to open shell sessions or invoke WP-CLI commands.

    In some cases, `wp-env` may consume options that you are attempting to pass to the container. This happens with options that `wp-env` has already declared, such as `--debug`, `--help`, and `--version`. When this happens, you should fall back to using quotation marks; `wp-env` considers everything inside the quotation marks to be command argument.

    For example, to ask WP-CLI for its help text:

    wp-env run cli "wp --help"

    Without the quotation marks, wp-env will print its own help text instead of passing it to the container. If you experience any problems where the command is not being passed correctly, fall back to using quotation marks.

    wp-env run <container> [command..]
    Runs an arbitrary command in one of the underlying Docker containers. The
    "container" param should reference one of the underlying Docker services like
    "development", "tests", or "cli". To run a wp-cli command, use the "cli" or
    "tests-cli" service. You can also use this command to open shell sessions like
    bash and the WordPress shell in the WordPress instance. For example, `wp-env run
    cli bash` will open bash in the development WordPress instance.
      container  The container to run the command on.            [string] [required]
      command    The command to run.                           [array] [default: []]
      --help     Show help                                                 [boolean]
      --version  Show version number                                       [boolean]
      --debug    Enable debug output.                     [boolean] [default: false]

    For example:

    Displaying the users on the development instance:

    wp-env run cli wp user list
    ⠏ Running `wp user list` in 'cli'.
    ID      user_login      display_name    user_email      user_registered roles
    1       admin   admin   2020-03-05 10:45:14     administrator
    ✔ Ran `wp user list` in 'cli'. (in 2s 374ms)

    Creating a post on the tests instance:

    wp-env run tests-cli "wp post create --post_type=page --post_title='Ready'"
    ℹ Starting 'wp post create --post_type=page --post_title='Ready'' on the tests-cli container.
    Success: Created post 5.
    ✔ Ran `wp post create --post_type=page --post_title='Ready'` in 'tests-cli'. (in 3s 293ms)

    Opening the WordPress shell on the tests instance and running PHP commands:

    wp-env run tests-cli wp shell
    ℹ Starting 'wp shell' on the tests-cli container. Exit the WordPress shell with ctrl-c.
    Starting 31911d623e75f345e9ed328b9f48cff6_mysql_1 ... done
    Starting 31911d623e75f345e9ed328b9f48cff6_tests-wordpress_1 ... done
    wp> echo( 'hello world!' );
    hello world!
    wp> ^C
    ✔ Ran `wp shell` in 'tests-cli'. (in 16s 400ms)

    Installing a plugin or theme on the development instance

    wp-env run cli wp plugin install custom-post-type-ui
    Creating 500cd328b649d63e882d5c4695871d04_cli_run ... done
    Installing Custom Post Type UI (1.9.2)
    Downloading installation package from
    The authenticity of could not be verified as no signature was found.
    Unpacking the package...
    Installing the plugin...
    Plugin installed successfully.
    Success: Installed 1 of 1 plugins.
    ✔ Ran `plugin install custom-post-type-ui` in 'cli'. (in 6s 483ms)

    NOTE: Depending on your host OS, you may experience errors when trying to install plugins or themes (e.g. Warning: Could not create directory.). This is typically because the user ID used within the container does not have write access to the mounted directories created by wp-env. To resolve this, run the docker-compose command directly from the directory created by wp-env and add -u $(id -u) and -e HOME=/tmp the run command as options:

    $ cd ~/wp-env/500cd328b649d63e882d5c4695871d04
    $ docker-compose run --rm -u $(id -u) -e HOME=/tmp cli [plugin|theme] install <plugin|theme>

    wp-env destroy

    wp-env destroy
    Destroy the WordPress environment. Deletes docker containers, volumes, and
    networks associated with the WordPress environment and removes local files.

    wp-env logs [environment]

    wp-env logs
    displays PHP and Docker logs for given WordPress environment.
      environment  Which environment to display the logs from.
          [string] [choices: "development", "tests", "all"] [default: "development"]
      --help     Show help                                                 [boolean]
      --version  Show version number                                       [boolean]
      --debug    Enable debug output.                     [boolean] [default: false]
      --watch    Watch for logs as they happen.            [boolean] [default: true]

    wp-env install-path

    Outputs the absolute path to the WordPress environment files.


    $ wp-env install-path


    You can customize the WordPress installation, plugins and themes that the development environment will use by specifying a .wp-env.json file in the directory that you run wp-env from.

    .wp-env.json supports six fields for options applicable to both the tests and development instances.

    Field Type Default Description
    "core" string|null null The WordPress installation to use. If null is specified, wp-env will use the latest production release of WordPress.
    "phpVersion" string|null null The PHP version to use. If null is specified, wp-env will use the default version used with production release of WordPress.
    "plugins" string[] [] A list of plugins to install and activate in the environment.
    "themes" string[] [] A list of themes to install in the environment.
    "port" integer 8888 (8889 for the tests instance) The primary port number to use for the installation. You'll access the instance through the port: 'http://localhost:8888'.
    "config" Object See below. Mapping of wp-config.php constants to their desired values.
    "mappings" Object "{}" Mapping of WordPress directories to local directories to be mounted in the WordPress instance.

    Note: the port number environment variables (WP_ENV_PORT and WP_ENV_TESTS_PORT) take precedent over the .wp-env.json values.

    Several types of strings can be passed into the core, plugins, themes, and mappings fields.

    Type Format Example(s)
    Relative path .<path>|~<path> "./a/directory", "../a/directory", "~/a/directory"
    Absolute path /<path>|<letter>:\<path> "/a/directory", "C:\\a\\directory"
    GitHub repository <owner>/<repo>[#<ref>] "WordPress/WordPress", "WordPress/gutenberg#trunk", if no branch is provided wp-env will fall back to the repos default branch
    SSH repository ssh://user@host/<owner>/<repo>.git[#<ref>] "ssh://"
    ZIP File http[s]://<host>/<path>.zip ""

    Remote sources will be downloaded into a temporary directory located in ~/.wp-env.

    Additionally, the key env is available to override any of the above options on an individual-environment basis. For example, take the following .wp-env.json file:

      "plugins": ["."],
      "config": {
        "KEY_1": true,
        "KEY_2": false
      "env": {
        "development": {
          "themes": ["./one-theme"]
        "tests": {
          "config": {
            "KEY_1": false
          "port": 3000

    On the development instance, cwd will be mapped as a plugin, one-theme will be mapped as a theme, KEY_1 will be set to true, and KEY_2 will be set to false. Also note that the default port, 8888, will be used as well.

    On the tests instance, cwd is still mapped as a plugin, but no theme is mapped. Additionally, while KEY_2 is still set to false, KEY_1 is overridden and set to false. 3000 overrides the default port as well.

    This gives you a lot of power to change the options applicable to each environment.


    Any fields here will take precedence over .wp-env.json. This file is useful when ignored from version control, to persist local development overrides. Note that options like plugins and themes are not merged. As a result, if you set plugins in your override file, this will override all of the plugins listed in the base-level config. The only keys which are merged are config and mappings. This means that you can set your own wp-config values without losing any of the default values.

    Default wp-config values.

    On the development instance, these wp-config values are defined by default:

    WP_DEBUG: true,
    SCRIPT_DEBUG: true,
    WP_PHP_BINARY: 'php',
    WP_TESTS_TITLE: 'Test Blog',
    WP_TESTS_DOMAIN: 'localhost',
    WP_SITEURL: 'http://localhost',
    WP_HOME: 'http://localhost',

    On the test instance, all of the above are still defined, but WP_DEBUG and SCRIPT_DEBUG are set to false.

    These can be overridden by setting a value within the config configuration. Setting it to null will prevent the constant being defined entirely.

    Additionally, the values referencing a URL include the specified port for the given environment. So if you set testsPort: 3000, port: 2000, WP_HOME (for example) will be http://localhost:3000 on the tests instance and http://localhost:2000 on the development instance.


    Latest stable WordPress + current directory as a plugin

    This is useful for plugin development.

      "core": null,
      "plugins": ["."]

    Latest development WordPress + current directory as a plugin

    This is useful for plugin development when upstream Core changes need to be tested. This can also be set via the environment variable WP_ENV_CORE.

      "core": "WordPress/WordPress#master",
      "plugins": ["."]

    Local wordpress-develop + current directory as a plugin

    This is useful for working on plugins and WordPress Core at the same time.

    If you are running a build of wordpress-develop, point core to the build directory.

      "core": "../wordpress-develop/build",
      "plugins": ["."]

    If you are running wordpress-develop in a dev mode (e.g. the watch command dev or the dev build build:dev), then point core to the src directory.

      "core": "../wordpress-develop/src",
      "plugins": ["."]

    A complete testing environment

    This is useful for integration testing: that is, testing how old versions of WordPress and different combinations of plugins and themes impact each other.

      "core": "WordPress/WordPress#5.2.0",
      "plugins": ["WordPress/wp-lazy-loading", "WordPress/classic-editor"],
      "themes": ["WordPress/theme-experiments"]

    Add mu-plugins and other mapped directories

    You can add mu-plugins via the mapping config. The mapping config also allows you to mount a directory to any location in the wordpress install, so you could even mount a subdirectory. Note here that theme-1, will not be activated.

      "plugins": ["."],
      "mappings": {
        "wp-content/mu-plugins": "./path/to/local/mu-plugins",
        "wp-content/themes": "./path/to/local/themes",
        "wp-content/themes/specific-theme": "./path/to/local/theme-1"

    Avoid activating plugins or themes on the instance

    Since all plugins in the plugins key are activated by default, you should use the mappings key to avoid this behavior. This might be helpful if you have a test plugin that should not be activated all the time.

      "plugins": ["."],
      "mappings": {
        "wp-content/plugins/my-test-plugin": "./path/to/test/plugin"

    Map a plugin only in the tests environment

    If you need a plugin active in one environment but not the other, you can use env.<envName> to set options specific to one environment. Here, we activate cwd and a test plugin on the tests instance. This plugin is not activated on any other instances.

      "plugins": ["."],
      "env": {
        "tests": {
          "plugins": [".", "path/to/test/plugin"]

    Custom Port Numbers

    You can tell wp-env to use a custom port number so that your instance does not conflict with other wp-env instances.

      "plugins": ["."],
      "port": 4013,
      "env": {
        "tests": {
          "port": 4012

    Specific PHP Version

    You can tell wp-env to use a specific PHP version for compatibility and testing. This can also be set via the environment variable WP_ENV_PHP_VERSION.

      "phpVersion": "7.2",
      "plugins": ["."]

    Contributing to this package

    This is an individual package that's part of the Gutenberg project. The project is organized as a monorepo. It's made up of multiple self-contained software packages, each with a specific purpose. The packages in this monorepo are published to npm and used by WordPress as well as other software projects.

    To find out more about contributing to this package or Gutenberg as a whole, please read the project's main contributor guide.

    Code is Poetry.


    npm i @wordpress/env

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