Project template for Drupal 8 sites built with the Lightning distribution.

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9.2.0 2021-06-17 18:04 UTC


Acquia is ending support for the Lightning distribution in November 2021, simultaneously with Drupal 8. At that time, Lightning 3, 4, and 5 will cease receiving any security updates or bug fixes. It is possible to safely uninstall Lightning from your site; please see the official announcement, FAQ for site owners, and developer instructions for more information.

This is a Composer-based installer for the Lightning Drupal distribution. Welcome to the future!

Get Started

$ composer create-project acquia/lightning-project MY_PROJECT
$ cd MY_PROJECT && composer quick-start

This will create a functioning Lightning site, open a web browser, and log you into the site using Drupal's built-in Quick Start command. If you'd rather use your own database and web server, you can skip the second step above and install Lightning like you would any other Drupal site.

Normally, Composer will install all dependencies into a vendor directory that is next to docroot, not inside it. This may create problems in certain hosting environments, so if you need to, you can tell Composer to install dependencies into docroot/vendor instead:

$ composer create-project acquia/lightning-project MY_PROJECT --no-install
$ composer config vendor-dir docroot/vendor
$ composer install

Either way, remember to keep the composer.json and composer.lock files that exist above docroot -- they are controlling your dependencies.


drush make, drush pm-download, drush pm-update and their ilk are the old-school way of maintaining your code base. Forget them. You're in Composer land now!

Let this handy table be your guide:

Task Drush Composer
Installing a contrib project (latest version) drush pm-download PROJECT composer require drupal/PROJECT
Installing a contrib project (specific version) drush pm-download PROJECT-8.x-1.0-beta3 composer require drupal/PROJECT:1.0.0-beta3
Installing a javascript library (e.g. dropzone) drush pm-download dropzone composer require bower-asset/dropzone
Updating all contrib projects and Drupal core drush pm-update composer update
Updating a single contrib project drush pm-update PROJECT composer update drupal/PROJECT
Updating Drupal core drush pm-update drupal composer update drupal/core

The magic is that Composer, unlike Drush, is a dependency manager. If module foo version: 1.0.0 depends on baz version: 3.2.0, Composer will not let you update baz to 3.3.0 (or downgrade it to 3.1.0, for that matter). Drush has no concept of dependency management. If you've ever accidentally hosed a site because of dependency issues like this, you've probably already realized how valuable Composer can be.

But to be clear: it is still very helpful to use a site management tool like Drush or Drupal Console. Tasks such as database updates (drush updatedb) are still firmly in the province of such utilities. This installer will install a copy of Drush (local to the project) in the bin directory.

Specifying a version

you can specify a version from the command line with:

$ composer require drupal/<modulename>:<version>

For example:

$ composer require drupal/ctools:3.0.0-alpha26
$ composer require drupal/token:1.x-dev

In these examples, the composer version 3.0.0-alpha26 maps to the version 8.x-3.0-alpha26 and 1.x-dev maps to 8.x-1.x branch on

If you specify a branch, such as 1.x you must add -dev to the end of the version.

Composer is only responsible for maintaining the code base.

Source Control

If you peek at the .gitignore we provide, you'll see that certain directories, including all directories containing contributed projects, are excluded from source control. This might be a bit disconcerting if you're newly arrived from Planet Drush, but in a Composer-based project like this one, you SHOULD NOT commit your installed dependencies to source control.

When you set up the project, Composer will create a file called composer.lock, which is a list of which dependencies were installed, and in which versions. Commit composer.lock to source control! Then, when your colleagues want to spin up their own copies of the project, all they'll have to do is run composer install, which will install the correct versions of everything in composer.lock.

How do I update Drupal core?

It's counterintuitive, but don't add drupal/core to your project's composer.json! Lightning manages Drupal core for you, so adding a direct dependency on Drupal core is likely to cause problems for you in the future.

Lightning's minor versions correspond to Drupal core's. So, for example, acquia/lightning:~3.3.0 will require Drupal core 8.7.x. acquia/lightning:~3.2.0 requires Drupal core 8.6.x, and ~3.1.0 requires Drupal core 8.5.x. If you wanted to update Drupal core from (for instance) 8.6.x to 8.7.x, you would do this by changing your requirement for acquia/lightning, like so:

composer require --no-update acquia/lightning:~3.3.0
composer update

Compatibility table

acquia/lightning version Drupal core version Drush version
~5.0.0 9.0.x >=9.7
~4.1.0 8.8.x+ >=9.7
~4.0.0 8.7.x >=9.4
~3.4.0 8.8.x+ >=9.7
~3.3.0 8.7.x >=9.4
~3.2.0 8.6.x >=9.4
~3.1.0 8.5.x >=9.4