An object oriented interface to shell commands

1.7.0 2023-04-19 08:25 UTC



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php-shellcommand provides a simple object oriented interface to execute shell commands.



Your php version must be 5.4 or later.

Installing with composer

This package can be installed easily using composer.

composer require mikehaertl/php-shellcommand


  • Catches stdOut, stdErr and exitCode
  • Handle argument escaping
  • Pass environment vars and other options to proc_open()
  • Pipe resources like files or streams into the command
  • Timeout for execution


Basic Example

use mikehaertl\shellcommand\Command;

// Basic example
$command = new Command('/usr/local/bin/mycommand -a -b');
if ($command->execute()) {
    echo $command->getOutput();
} else {
    echo $command->getError();
    $exitCode = $command->getExitCode();

Advanced Features

Add Arguments

$command = new Command('/bin/somecommand');
// Add arguments with correct escaping:
// results in --name='d'\''Artagnan'
$command->addArg('--name=', "d'Artagnan");

// Add argument with several values
// results in --keys key1 key2
$command->addArg('--keys', ['key1','key2']);

Pipe Input Into Command

From string:

$command = new ('jq'); // jq is a pretty printer
$command->setStdIn('{"foo": 0}');
if (!$command->execute()) {
    echo $command->getError();
} else {
    echo $command->getOutput();
// Output:
// {
//   "foo": 0
// }

From file:

$fh = fopen('test.json', 'r');
// error checks left out...
$command = new Command('jq');
if (!$command->execute()) {
    echo $command->getError();
} else {
    echo $command->getOutput();

From URL:

$fh = fopen('https://api.open-meteo.com/v1/forecast?latitude=52.52&longitude=13.41&hourly=temperature_2m,relativehumidity_2m,windspeed_10m', 'r');
// error checks left out...
$command = new Command('jq');
if (!$command->execute()) {
    echo $command->getError();
} else {
    echo $command->getOutput();

Set Command Instance Options

// Create command with options array
$command = new Command([
    'command' => '/usr/local/bin/mycommand',

    // Will be passed as environment variables to the command
    'procEnv' => [
        'DEMOVAR' => 'demovalue'

    // Will be passed as options to proc_open()
    'procOptions' => [
        'bypass_shell' => true,



  • $escapeArgs: Whether to escape any argument passed through addArg(). Default is true.
  • $escapeCommand: Whether to escape the command passed to setCommand() or the constructor. This is only useful if $escapeArgs is false. Default is false.
  • $useExec: Whether to use exec() instead of proc_open(). This is a workaround for OS which have problems with proc_open(). Default is false.
  • $captureStdErr: Whether to capture stderr when useExec is set. This will try to redirect the otherwhise unavailable stderr to stdout, so that both have the same content on error. Default is true.
  • $procCwd: The initial working dir passed to proc_open(). Default is null for current PHP working dir.
  • $procEnv: An array with environment variables to pass to proc_open(). Default is null for none.
  • $procOptions: An array of other_options for proc_open(). Default is null for none.
  • $nonBlockingMode: Whether to set the stdin/stdout/stderr streams to non-blocking mode when proc_open() is used. This allows to have huge inputs/outputs without making the process hang. The default is null which will enable the feature on Non-Windows systems. Set it to true or false to manually enable/disable it. Note that it doesn't work on Windows.
  • $timeout: The time in seconds after which the command should be terminated. This only works in non-blocking mode. Default is null which means the process is never terminated.
  • $locale: The locale to (temporarily) set with setlocale() before running the command. This can be set to e.g. en_US.UTF-8 if you have issues with UTF-8 encoded arguments.

You can configure all these properties via an array that you pass in the constructor. You can also pass command, execCommand and args as options. This will call the respective setter (setCommand(), setExecCommand(), etc.).


  • __construct($options = null)
    • $options: either a command string or an options array (see setOptions())
  • __toString(): The result from getExecCommand()
  • setOptions($options): Set command options
    • $options: array of name => value options that should be applied to the object. You can also pass options that use a setter, e.g. you can pass a command option which will be passed to setCommand().
  • setCommand($command): Set command
    • $command: The command or full command string to execute, like gzip or gzip -d. You can still call addArg() to add more arguments to the command. If $escapeCommand was set to true, the command gets escaped through escapeshellcmd().
  • getCommand(): The command that was set through setCommand() or passed to the constructor.
  • getExecCommand(): The full command string to execute.
  • setArgs($args): Set argument as string
    • $args: The command arguments as string. Note, that these will not get escaped. This will overwrite the args added with addArgs().
  • getArgs(): The command arguments that where set through setArgs() or addArg(), as string
  • addArg($key, $value=null, $escape=null): Add argument with correct escaping
    • $key: The argument key to add e.g. --feature or --name=. If the key does not end with and =, the (optional) $value will be separated by a space. The key will get escaped if $escapeArgs is true.
    • $value: The optional argument value which will get escaped if $escapeArgs is true. An array can be passed to add more than one value for a key, e.g. addArg('--exclude', ['val1','val2']) which will create the option "--exclude 'val1' 'val2'".
    • $escape: If set, this overrides the $escapeArgs setting and enforces escaping/no escaping
  • setStdIn(): String or resource to supply to command via standard input. This enables the same functionality as piping on the command line. It can also be a resource like a file handle or a stream in which case its content will be piped into the command like an input redirection.
  • getOutput(): The command output as string. Empty if none.
  • getError(): The error message, either stderr or internal message. Empty if no error.
  • getStdErr(): The stderr output. Empty if none.
  • getExitCode(): The exit code or null if command was not executed.
  • getExecuted(): Whether the command was successfully executed.
  • getIsWindows(): Whether we are on a Windows Owe are on a Windows OS
  • execute(): Executes the command and returns true on success, false otherwhise.

Note: getError(), getStdErr() and getOutput() return the trimmed output. You can pass false to these methods if you need any possible line breaks at the end.