A composer plugin to install packages as local symbolic links

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1.0.3 2015-10-26 23:48 UTC

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Last update: 2024-02-21 08:03:06 UTC


This Composer plugin allows you to install packages as local symbolic links, with the option to fallback to other install options. This allows you to locally develop a package and its dependencies in parallel.

This has been discussed as a possible improvement to Composer, but movement has been slow. See Composer issues #1299, and #4011 for example discussions.

This is a fork of piwi/composer-symlinker with some enhancements. Specifically:

  • Allow for relative paths (helpful if you develop in a virtual machine, but edit code on your host machine)
  • Fall back to other install options, if a package can't be found locally.
  • Allow for other installers to give the correct install path. (Useful when using packages that install to non-vendor locations)


First, add the plugin as a dependency in your composer.json:

"socialengine/composer-symlinker": "~1.0"

Next, define local paths to your packages in an extra section of your composer.json. You have two options on how to declare the paths:

  • local-dirs: list out directories to look in for packages. When scanning, these paths will be combined with vendor/package.
  • local-packages: a key-value object, where the key is the package name, and the value is a path to that package. The paths can be relative to the composer.json.

If you want to restrict which vendors to scan for locally, you can add a local-vendors list.

If a package is not found locally, the plugin will fall back to other install methods (like packagist/git).

Example Extra Section

"extra": {
    "local-dirs": [
    "local-vendors": [
    "local-packages": {
        "vendor/package1": "/my/absolute/path/to/vendor/package1",
        "vendor/package2": "../relative/path/to/vendor/package2"

Example Setup

Let's say we want to work on a project named MyProject base on three dependencies: MyPackage1 and MyPackage2 which are some of our packages, and a third-party ExternalPackage which is not.

Further, MyPackage1 is located at /opt/php/MyVendor/MyPackage1 and MyPackage2 can be found at ../my-package-2.

We can configure our composer.json like so:

"require": {
    "MyVendor/MyPackage1": "3.6.1",
    "MyVendor/MyPackage2": "0.10",
    "OtherVendor/ExternalPackage": "2.4.6"
"require-dev": {
    "socialengine/composer-symlinker": "~1.0"
"extra": {
    "local-dirs": "/opt/php/",
    "local-packages": {
        "MyVendor/MyPackage2": "../my-package-2"

So, when developing on our local box, composer install will install our packages as symlinks to their respective paths. If use the same composer.json on a box where the paths aren't valid, the packages will be installed normally.

Windows users warning

The plugin uses the internal symlink() PHP function. See Windows restrictions on the manual.


This is released under the MIT License.