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A package manager for Moodle components

v0.5.0 2018-01-10 12:47 UTC


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Component Manager is a tool to assist with the packaging and management of Moodle-based learning environments.

Key concepts

For the sales pitch, see the presentation and slides.

  • Package repositories contain metadata about components. This metadata describes the components themselves and contains information about available versions of the plugin as well as sources to obtain them.
  • Component sources describe possible locations to obtain components in either source or distribution form, and are assembled based upon data provided by package repositories.
  • Package sources define strategies that can be used to obtain components from specific types of sources (e.g. version control systems, archive files downloaded from repositories).
  • Version control implementations allow us to download and checkout specific versions of components from a range of different sources.


Component Manager is released under the terms of the GPL v3. This is the same license as the core Moodle distribution.

FOSSA Status


  • PHP >= 5.6
  • Moodle >= 2.7


Component Manager can be installed in various different ways, each appropriate for different use cases.

Globally, via CGR (recommended)

CGR provides a safe alternative to globally requiring packages by sandboxing individual packages and their dependencies. This approach is recommended for most users.

  1. Globally require CGR with composer global require consolidation/cgr.
  2. Install Component Manager with cgr lukecarrier/moodle-componentmgr.

Globally, via Composer

In this configuration, Component Manager is accessible on the shell (via your preferred $SHELL or Command Prompt), and the same installation is used across all of your projects. This approach is not recommended for Component Manager, as globally requiring packages with dependencies is likely to lead to dependency problems.

  1. Install PHP for your platform.
  2. Install Composer as per their Getting Started guide. We assume that you can launch composer on your shell.
  3. Ensure Composer's global vendor/bin directory is on your PATH:
  • On Linux/Mac, it's probably $HOME/.composer/vendor/bin
  • On Windows, this is usually %APPDATA%\Roaming\Composer\vendor\bin
  1. Install Component Manager globally with composer global require lukecarrier/moodle-componentmgr

Locally, via Composer

In this configuration, Component Manager isn't accessible globally from the shell, so package operations can only be performed by manually adding the bin directory to your PATH or specifying the full path to the componentmgr executable.

$ composer require lukecarrier/moodle-componentmgr

Manually (ideal for development)

Component Manager can also be run in-place. This is recommended for performing development within Component Manager itself.

  1. Clone this repository somewhere on your disk.
  2. Ensure our bin directory is on your system PATH.
  3. Run composer install within the repository to obtain the dependencies.

install usage

In this mode, Component Manager is launched from the root directory of a Moodle site. It reads the project and project lock files from the present working directory, then deploys the specified components from the specified package repositories. This mode is designed for use in development environments.

Create a componentmgr.json file in the root of your Moodle project. This file, referred to as the project file or manifest, contains a summary of all of the plugins required for installation of your platform and associated versions.

In order for Component Manager to source your plugins, you'll need to explicitly specify which locations to treat as package repositories. These are declared in the "packageRepositories" section of your project file, indexed by an alias you'll use to refer to them from component entries later. At a minimum, they'll consist of a "type", but additional options might be required for other implementations.

To use the repository, you'll need the following stanza in your project file:

            "type": "Moodle"

Other package repositories are available, allowing deployment from corporate version control and distribution systems. At the moment:

  • "Filesystem" can be used to lookup components on the local disk.
  • "Git" lets you directly specify local and remote Git repository URIs.
  • "Github" allows Component Manager to query repositories, specified with the "repository" property of each component. To enable a greater API rate limit, consider setting the token field to a token generated with the public_repo scope here.
  • "Moodle" allows access to the repository, versioning plugins by either their plugin version (YYYYMMDDXX) or release name.
  • "Stash" allows access to individual projects within a Bitbucket Server (formerly Stash) deployment. Project names should match component names and components are versioned via Git references.

You're now ready to start declaring components. Components are declared in the "components" section of your project file, indexed by their frankenstyle component names. Each component object has three keys:

  • The "version" key specifies either a plugin version or release name, both consistent with Moodle's version.php files.
  • The "packageRepository" key specifies the package repository, declared in the "packageRepositories" section of the project file, which should be used used as the source of data for this component.
  • Finally, the "packageSource" key specifies which type of component source to obtain. At the moment, the following sources are available:
    • "Directory" sources components from the specified filesystem location.
    • "Git" sources components from the specified Git reference.
    • "Zip" sources components via zip archives from remote locations.

An example to install version 0.4.0 of the local_cpd plugin from the zipped distributions on would look like the following:

    "components": {
        "local_cpd": {
            "version": "0.4.0",
            "packageRepository": "moodle",
            "packageSource": "Zip"

Bringing this altogether gives us a componentmgr.json file that looks something like the following:

    "components": {
        "local_cpd": {
            "version": "0.4.0",
            "packageRepository": "moodle",
            "packageSource": "Zip"

    "packageRepositories": {
        "moodle": {
            "type": "Moodle"

We're now ready to install our plugins. First, we'll get Component Manager to fetch metadata about all of the available components from our configured package repositories. It'll cache this data to save traffic and time later:

$ componentmgr refresh

With this data now ready, we can fetch our plugins by switching to the directory containing our Moodle installation and issuing the install command:

$ cd ~/Sites/LukeCarrier-Moodle
$ componentmgr install

Now we can choose to perform the plugins' database upgrades via either the Moodle Notifications page under Site administration, or the handy CLI script:

$ php admin/cli/upgrade.php

package usage

In this mode, Component Manager can be launched from any arbitrary location, and it generates a package containing an entire Moodle site. The version of Moodle and related components to deploy is determined from a property in the project file. This mode is designed for use in CI and production environments.

To use Component Manager to package Moodle releases, you'll first need to determine an appropriate expression for your desired Moodle version. You're advised to use a branch here, as Component Manager will pin the exact Moodle version in the project lock file during installation.

You'll then need to choose an installation source:

  • "zip" is the recommended option. Component Manager will obtain the specified release archive from These releases will have passed Moodle HQ's testing process.
  • "git" should be used for more advanced configurations.

The support for the different version formats across the different installation sources is as follows:

Version format Behaviour Git Zip
2.7 Latest available release in branch
2.7+ Latest available release in branch with fixes
2.7.10 Specific release version
2.7.10+ Specific release version with fixes
2014051210 Specific release version
2014051210.05 Specific release version with fixes

Bringing this together, you should place the following stanza into your project file:

    "moodle": {
        "version": "2.7+",
        "source": "zip"

Packages can be generated in the following formats:

  • "Directory" simply copies the packaged files to the specified directory.
  • "WebDeploy" packages are generated using Microsoft's msdeploy utility and are well suited to deployment on Windows.
  • "ZipArchive" packages are suited to deployment everywhere.

For example, to generate a generic zip ball containing your Moodle site, you can run the following command:

$ componentmgr package --package-format=ZipArchive \
                       --package-destination=/tmp/ \

Component lifecycle

Component Manager allows components to run scripts at specific stages of the installation and packaging processes. These are:

  • build -- fired once all components have been installed to the site, intended for use to install client-side dependencies via package managers and perform any building/minification of assets.

To take advantage of this feature, create a componentmgr.comnponent.json in the top level of your repository with the following content:

    "scripts": {
        "build": "your command (e.g. npm install && npm run gulp)"

You can verify that your build steps function as expected without having to perform an installation or package operation with the run-script command:

$ cd local/componentmgrtest/
$ componentmgr run-script build


Milestones are prepared from GitHub issues and maintained using HuBoard.

To get a change into Component Manager:

  1. Fork a new branch off of develop if it's a feature for the next major release, or off master if it's a bug fix.
  2. Make your changes, and commit them. Try to be mindful of commit messages, and don't be afraid of spreading particularly large or complex changes across commits.
  3. Submit a pull request.


Component Manager is both unit and integration tested.

Integration tests

Integration tests are written in ServerSpec, with Test Kitchen configured to run them in a clean environment using the Docker driver.

To get started, install Kitchen and the necessary dependencies with Bundler:

$ bundle install

Then run the tests:

$ bundle exec kitchen test

Unit tests

Unit tests are written with PHPUnit. Ensure that Composer development dependencies are installed, then run the tests:

$ vendor/bin/phpunit

This will generate various coverage and pass/fail reports in the tmp directory.

Note that a portion of the tests for the platform support components will fail on platforms they're not designed for. To exclude them, use PHPUnit's --exclude-group switch on the following groups as appropriate:

  • platform-linux
  • platform-windows