A single-class utility to check the running context in WordPress sites.

1.5.0 2023-01-09 06:27 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2024-04-05 13:16:16 UTC


A single-class utility to check the current request context in WordPress sites.

PHP Quality Assurance

How to use

This is a Composer package, not a plugin, so first it needs to be installed via Composer.

After that, assuming Composer autoload file is loaded, very early in the load process it is possible to instantiate the WpContext like this:

$context = Inpsyde\WpContext::determine();

The library does not implement singleton pattern, nor caches the retrieval of the current context, so it might be a good idea to save the created instance somewhere globally accessible in your plugin/theme/package/application.

Having an instance of WpContext, it is possible to check the current context via its is method, or context-specific methods.

For example:

use Inpsyde\WpContext;

$context = WpContext::determine();
if ($context->is(WpContext::AJAX, WpContext::CRON)) {
    // stuff for requests that are either AJAX or WP cron
} elseif ($context->isBackoffice()) {
    // stuff for "backoffice" requests (WP admin)

The method WpContext::is() is convenient to check multiple contexts, context-specific methods are probably better to check a single context.

The full list of contexts that can be checked is:

  • ->is(WpContext::CORE) / ->isCore()
  • ->is(WpContext::FRONTOFFICE) / ->isFrontoffice()
  • ->is(WpContext::BACKOFFICE) / ->isBackoffice()
  • ->is(WpContext::AJAX) / ->isAjax()
  • ->is(WpContext::LOGIN) / ->isLogin()
  • ->is(WpContext::REST) / ->isRest()
  • ->is(WpContext::CRON) / ->isCron()
  • ->is(WpContext::CLI) / ->isWpCli()
  • ->is(WpContext::XML_RPC) / ->isXmlRpc()
  • ->is(WpContext::INSTALLING) / ->isInstalling()
  • ->is(WpContext::WP_ACTIVATE) / ->isWpActivate()

About "core" and "installing" contexts

WpContext::isCore() checks for the constants ABSPATH being defined, which means that it will normally be true when all the check for other contexts is also true, but WpContext::isInstalling() is an exception to that (more on this below). Another possible exception is WP CLI commands that run before WordPress is loaded.

WpContext::isInstalling() is true when the constant WP_INSTALLING is defined and true, that is when WordPress is installing or upgrading.

In this phase, WpContext returns false for all the other contexts (except for WpContext::isWpCli(), which will be true if the installation/update is happening via WP CLI).

For example, if a cron request is started, and WordPress for any reason sets the WP_INSTALLING constant during that request, WpContext::isCron() will be false, just like WpContext::isCore().

The reason for this is that WordPress is likely not behaving as expected during installation.

For example a code like the following:

if (Inpsyde\WpContext::determine()->isCore()) {
    return get_option('some_option');

which might look very fine, could break if WP_INSTALLING is true, considering in that case the options table might not be there at all. Thanks to the fact that WpContext::isCore() returns false when WP_INSTALLING is true the get_option call above is not executed during installation (when it is not safe to call).

About "installing" and "activate" contexts

The previous section states:

WpContext::isInstalling() is true when the constant WP_INSTALLING is defined and true

but there's an exception to that.

When visiting /wp-activate.php the constant WP_INSTALLING is defined and true, however the issues that usually apply in that case (WP not fully reliable) don't apply there. In fact, when in /wp-activate.php, no "installations" happens, and WP is fully loaded.

This is why /wp-activate.php is a sort of "special case" and WP Context can determine that case via WpContext::isWpActivate(). When that returns true, WpContext::isInstalling() will return false, and WpContext::isCore() will return true, even if WP_INSTALLING is defined and true.

Please note that /wp-activate.php is only available for multisite installations and WpContext::isWpActivate() will always return false in single-site installations.

Ok, but why?

WordPress has core functions and constants to determine the context of current request, so why an additional package?

There are multiple reasons:

  • Not all contexts have a way to be determined. For example how do you determine when in a "front-office" context? And what about login screen?
  • Some contexts have a dedicated constant/function, but only available late in the request flow. For example, REST requests can be checked via the REST_REQUEST constant, but that is only defined pretty late. WpContext::isRest() instead, can be used very early.
  • Unit tests. Any logic that depends on PHP constants makes unit-testing hard, because it forces running tests in separate processes to be able to test different values for the same constant. On top of that, when running tests without WordPress being loaded it might be needed to "mock" a few WordPress functions, constants, global variables, etc. As documented below this package make tests very easy.

Testing code that uses WpContext

Considering that WpContext uses constants and functions to determine current WordPress context it could be hard to unit-test code that make use of it, especially when WordPress is not loaded at all.

In tests, it is possible to obtain an instance of WpContext by calling WpContext::new instead of WpContext::determine() and then use WpContext::force() method to set it to the wanted context

use Inpsyde\WpContext;

$context = WpContext::new()->force(WpContext::AJAX);


When "forcing" a content different from INSTALLING or CLI, the context CORE is also set to true, not being possible to have, for example, an WordPress AJAX request outside of WordPress core.

The only context, besides CORE, that can be associated with other contexts is CLI. However, force method only accepts a single context, so by using it is not possible to "simulate" a request that is, for example, both CLI and CRON.

For this scope, WpContext has a withCli method, that unlike force does not override current context, but only "appends" CLI context.

For example:

use Inpsyde\WpContext;

$context = WpContext::new()->force(WpContext::CRON)->withCli();


Note that $context->force(WpContext::CLI) can still be used to "simulate" requests that are only WP CLI, not even CORE.


This repository is a free software, and is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 or (at your option) any later version. See LICENSE for complete license.


All feedback / bug reports / pull requests are welcome.

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