Installing a local Composer package in your PHP project

Jan 22, 2022

If you've worked in a PHP project, chances are you've dealt with the Composer package manager. As a full-stack developer, I think it's one of the better ones that I use on a regular basis, consistently improving while remaining relatively simple.

One of the more difficult things to do with it though, is adding a local package for use in a larger PHP project. Whether you've downloaded a private source, or are developing a package locally, this method will work to get your package into Composer.

First, open up your PHP project's composer.json file. You're going to want to add a repositories array if one isn't already present. That array expects a list of package sources, and we're going to provide our local package's directory as one.

"repositories": [
"type": "path",
"url": "./packages/aschmelyun/my-package",
"options": {
"symlink": true

Passing in the "symlink": true option means that our package's source folder will be symlinked into the vendor directory of our PHP project.

You might be asking: Why don't we just add the source of our package right into the vendor directory?.

You're right, we could do that and it might work. But keeping everything contained in the Composer ecosystem ensures that our project dependencies run smoothly. It also opens up the door to use other features like multiple packages in the same source repo, or ensuring our local package meets dependency requirements.

Okay, after that's done, we just need to update our require list with our package:

"require": {
"aschmelyun/my-package": "@dev"

The @dev version string ensures that no matter what, the source code that we have in our package folder should be what gets added in and referenced in our PHP project.

The package name that we use in the above should match the name attribute in the composer.json of the PHP package, not just the folder path. For instance, here's what the composer.json might look like for the above test package:

"name": "aschmelyun/my-package",
"description": "Just a test package",
"require": {
"php": "^7.2 || ^8.0"
"autoload": {
"psr-4": {
"ASchmelyun\\MyPackage\\": "src/"
"minimum-stability": "dev",
"prefer-stable": false

The last two attributes in the above file aren't usually required, but could help if you run into any errors getting your local package to load into Composer.

Finally, all you have to do is update your Composer packages from the project root:

composer update


Now you can use your package in your PHP project just like you would if you installed it through composer require ....

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