Project template for VMLY&R Drupal 8 projects with composer.

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9.0.1 2021-05-18 19:51 UTC


VMLY&R's Drupal 9 KIT is a distribution which helps build and maintain Drupal 9 projects.

About KIT

Via a suite of Docksal commands, an installation profile, and a base theme, the distribution provides support for the following:

Common modules + composer.json

KIT uses composer for handling project dependencies. The distribution includes a selection of Modules and libraries by default. The list was determined using either the following criteria:

  • Best-practices – Drupal 9 Core is a much more viable product out-of-the-box than Drupal 7 was, but there are still certain modules and configuration that we need and should be using for every site, including support for multiple environments. Examples of these are Blazy for lazy-loading images, Advanced Aggregation for better style/script management, Configuration Sync + Config Split (instead of Features).
  • Standardization – being an open-source project, Drupal has a tendency of having multiple modules with similar solutions to similar problems. We've added items to the list by default to help standardize the tools to handle certain problems, an example being a field to include a view on an entity.

Composer project scaffolding

KIT enforces structure by adding it's own scaffolding, which runs after Drupal's default scaffolding on composer install and update. Drupal's scaffolding automatically wipes and re-copies the files which get copied outside of Drupal core and into public directories (like default.settings.php, htaccess, robots.txt, etc.). VMLY&R additionally creates the standard config folder structure, as well as removes and updates files that should be modified via patches (like .htaccess) or compiled (like drupal.settings.additional.php compiling into drupal.settings.php) instead of being checked-into the repository directly.

Docksal command suite

The project uses Docksal for local-environment development and project-building. The following is a list of Docksal commands that come included in the project:

  • init – Typically used when building or rebuilding the project and its dependencies. The command will start docksal, download dependencies, make sure that the project's relevant sites' directories and databases exits, build front-end artifacts, and import databases from another environment. The command takes an optional parameter builder, which is explained in detail below under the "Docksal + CI and build processes" section.
  • init-deps – Used when project dependencies need to be redownloaded and installed. Currently consists of Composer and NPM.
  • init-services – Used when project-based command and tool dependencies need to be redownloaded and installed. Currently consists of validating that nvm, npm, and node are available in the container.
  • k – A simple wrapper command to make it easier to run kit commands. For example, fin k gulp instead of fin kit/gulp.
  • pre-deploy – This is used in situations where there needs to be pre-deployment cleanup / modifications. Currently used to remove files from build artifact that don't need to be on an external environment.

Additional commands are included via the vmlyr-drupal/kit-docksal-commands package and installed under a "kit" sub directory in the docksal commands directory. See the file in that directory after composer is installed for more information on those commands.

Docksal + CI and build processes

Docksal and KIT's commands can be used for running build processes. The command init can toggle "CI mode" by running appending the ci command: fin init ci. This is best used when docksal is used to create the build files to be released. By default, the builder runs composer in --no-dev mode, and auto-removes build-related files amound other things.

Drupal site configuration

This composer project comes with 2 VMLY&R-created Drupal profiles:

  • Biplane – This profile has a lot of required site-configuration and relevant modules installed and setup by default. It's fairly bare-bones besides items related to best-practices and standardization, but it does take care of a lot of monotony that comes with installing a new Drupal instance. Some examples are:
    • Default environments (local, remote_dev, remote_stage, remote_prod) and their relevant config-splits and settings and modules.
    • Core files modified/removed by default, like .htaccess https overrides, default settings.php changes, using RobotsTXT module instead of the included core file, etc.
    • Lighthouse-related settings, like Image Optimization, Responsive Images + Focal Point, Advanced Aggregation, Blazy, etc.
    • Various settings and needed for go-live on new sites, like setting up Advanced Aggregation for production instances, default metatags for global and Node pages, XML Sitemap defaults, disabling anonymous user registration, etc.
  • Blackbird – This profile builds off of the Biplane profile, but is a little more opinionated. It includes helpful Paragraph components, Image Styles, Media implementations, among a slew of additional configuration. To get the full use of the additional components, make sure to run fin kit/theme and generate a new theme off of the "Blackbird" option of the same name.

Multi-environment configuration and development

Multi-environment configuration is pre-configured as part of the distribution via the default settings.php file and the Biplane and Blackbird profiles.

Environments + Settings.php file

The each site's default settings.php file includes the /sites/environment.settings.php, which has configuration to toggle the status of relevant configuration based on the current site's environment. Remote environments, such as those hosted by Acquia, Pantheon, or, have $_ENV or $_SERVER variables which tell the site that it is a certain environment and to enable certain configuration or settings. When working on the site locally, all configuration splits should say either "inactive". The "local" config_split status is only enabled by the fin command conf on export/import. This makes sure that configuration can be exported regularly without a certain environment taking accidental precedence.

Development and docksal settings files are automatically included via the environment.settings.php file, if they exist. These files are ignored by git and helpful for development overrides such as disabling cache or allowing verbose error reporting. The KitScriptHandler script, which is ran by composer, automatically copies a settings.local.php and settings.docksal.php into each sites directories to better assist local development.

Environments + the VMLY&R Profiles Biplane and Blackbird

The VMLY&R profiles include config-split options by default, and have additional tasks during install to establish the default configuration and each split's configuration, as well as import as the local environment before the installation is complete.

The four included default configurations include:

  • Local (local) – Local development configuration overrides, such as disabling page cache and advanced aggregation, and enabling development modules.
  • Development (remote_dev) - Mainly enabling Shield authentication and Stage File Proxy.
  • Stage (remote_stage) – Mainly enabling Shield authentication and Stage File Proxy.
  • Production (remote_prod) – Enables Syslog and form Captcha.

Multi-site support

Multi-site support is baked into the project via our supplied Docksal tools. When another site needs to be added, it's as simple as creating a the new drush alias file and running composer install. The command will build out the site folder structure, copy the default settings.php file into the site directory and is then ready for installation. The kit/sync and kit/conf tools both support syncing and exporting/importing any site in a multi-site Drupal instance.

Standardized theme management and structure

KIT automatically includes a base theme (Bazo) and two scaffolding themes which use Bazo as a base theme.

Bazo base theme

The Bazo base theme is meant to help assist its child-themes. It includes standard templates but moves most of the classes into its preprocesses to allow them to be more-easily removed later by the child preprocess. The two more-important factors of the subtheme are:

  • Automatic Drupal library attachment – Bazo automatically attaches child-theme libraries to their related entities as long as they follow a naming convention:

    • theme-name/entity-id
    • theme-name/entity-id--view-mode
    • theme-name/entity-id--view-mode--bundle

    This not only helps your project stay organized, but it allows front-end developers to attach their libraries to components without needing to touch PHP.

    Note: notice the entity-id--view-mode--bundle is different than Drupal's default theme-name convention of entity-id--bundle--view-mode. This was done purposely, because typically all bundles of a certain view-mode will share a library versus all view-modes sharing a library of a certain bundle. This allows a universal library to be included for view-modes and then more-specific implementations that are bundle-specific also be included .

  • Automatic attribute-variable conversion – Baso automatically converts specified arrays to attribute variables in a "postprocess" function that are listed in the preprocess's $variables['#attribute_variables'] array. IE:

    • $variables['#attribute_variables'][] = 'figcaption_attributes';
    • $variables['#attribute_variables'][] = 'wrapper_attributes';
    • $variables['#attribute_variables'][] = 'figcaption_attributes';
    • $variables['#attribute_variables'][] = 'image_attributes';

Scaffolded child-themes via a Docksal command

VMLY&R has a couple scaffolding themes included to build from, but they're not included in the project directly. Instead they can be generated via the fin kit/theme command.


Getting a running site takes only a few steps for a project.

  1. Install Docksal if it's not already installed.

  2. Install the project.

    1. Use composer to create the new project. Note: try not to use hyphenated project names if possible, docksal currently has weird issues with projects with hyphens.
      fin run-cli "composer create-project --no-install vmlyr-drupal/kit [FOLDER_NAME_HERE]"
    2. Change into the directory.
    3. If this directory was not already a git project, initialize the new repository
      git init
    4. If this project has a remote repository, add the remote origin
      git remote add origin [REMOTE_REPOSITORY_URL_HERE]
  3. Run fin start in the project to create the Docksal project.

  4. Open each site's Drush alias file (/drush/sites/ to update the local URI as well as any relevant server information if it's already known. (note: Your local should have been listed by Docksal at the end of running fin start)

  5. If running a multisite install, open /sites/sites.php folder to make sure domains are mapped to the correct site.

    Docksal's domain name is the project folder name in alphanumeric appended with .docksal. (I.E. drupal-8-kit becomes drupal8kit.docksal)

    $sites['domainname.docksal'] = 'www';
    $sites['www.domainname.docksal'] = 'www';

    External domains are mapped here as well.

    $sites[''] = 'www';
    $sites[''] = 'www';
    $sites[''] = 'www';
    $sites[''] = 'www';

    Docksal supports subdomains, and Drupal supports mapping subdomains on a multi-site install.

    $sites['subdomain.domainname.docksal'] = 'subdomain';

    External subdomains are mapped here as well.

    $sites[''] = 'subdomain';
    $sites[''] = 'subdomain';
    $sites[''] = 'subdomain';
    $sites[''] = 'subdomain';
  6. Run fin init

  7. Open a browser and go to the site; it should have been redirected to the site install page.

  8. Walk through the install process. (note: the site should automatically start installing after a profile is selected; if it doesn't, and it asks for database settings, reload the /core/install.php URL without any GET parameters)

  9. Fill out the site configuration. If using either of the VMLY&R Profiles and the environment URLs are unknown, make a best guess at what they could be (we suggest following the //ENV-WWW.SITE_PROD.DOMAIN structure). The domains are used for indicating current environment and using other environment's assets via Stage File Proxy. Setting these up now helps not needing to set these in multiple places later on during development.

  10. If you selected either of the VMLY&R profiles, upon saving configuration, the site should export all relevant configuration into the site's sync directory and import as the local environment.

  11. Installation is complete once redirected to the homepage of the site.

  12. To start building your own theme, run fin kit/theme to generate a new theme + theme source setup based on our example scaffold themes. If the Blackbird profile was installed, we suggest scaffolding from the Blackbird theme option of the same name. If you're not using Blackbird and want a more simple starting point for you theme we suggest scaffolding from Biplane scaffold theme.

Post-installation and provider-related configuration

Based on the hosting provider, some configuration needs to be created or updated. Similarly, some configuration will also be unneeded and can be removed.


@TODO Jenkins setup walk-through.

Bitbucket pipelines

To enable bitbucket pipeline builds, rename bitbucket-pipelines-example.yml to bitbucket-pipelines.yml. Note: Bitbucket Pipelines needs to be enabled in bitbucket to work.


There is a small amount of configuration to get pipelines talking to your external repository after copying the pipelines file into the repository. In your Bitbucket account:

  • go to Settings > Pipelines > Settings and toggle "Enable Pipelines"
  • go to Settings > Pipelines > Repository Variables and add a variable named DESTINATION_REPOSITORY with the url to your hosting providers repository (example: ssh:// for Pantheon).
  • go to Settings > Pipelines > Deployments and configure/create the Deployment environments you want to connect to.
    • Rename the environment, make sure it matches the deployment key:value inside your pipelines file (example: deployment: Development)
    • Add a variable here named DESTINATION_REPOSITORY_BRANCH and put the value as the branch you want to push into on your hosting providers repository (example: master).
  • go to Settings > Pipelines > SSH Keys. These keys are what are used to connect to your hosting provider repository.
    • Generate a key pair. Note: Acquia requires a stronger key-pair than the default that Bitbucket generates. Instead of clicking the generate button that Bitbucket provides, you will need to create the keypair manually by running ssh-keygen -b 4096 in your local terminal (consider naming it something descriptive) and then adding its private and public keys to Bitbucket.
    • Take the public key and add it to a user on the hosting provider repository. It's best to use either a deployment key if the provider supports it, or create a service account solely for connecting the provider to pipelines (example: a user on the provider with that is solely for holding the connection to pipelines).
    • Take the host address of the hosting provider's repository and place it in the "Host addresses" field in the Known Hosts area, then fetch the fingerprint to make sure the connection is validated. You should now be able to push up your change and watch the pipelines kick off.

Note: sometimes it takes some playing-around-with to make sure that pipelines can connect to the hosting-provider repository, such as recreating the key pairs.

Default pipelines provided

Branch: Master

This pipeline watches the master branch, and when code is merged into it, automatically builds and deploys the code to the relevant "Development" environment repository.

This pipeline uses the default "Build package" and "Deploy package" pipeline steps. The "Deploy package" step defaults to run the "Development" deployment.

In scenarios where there should be a development branch building to the Development environment, and the master branch building to Stage or Production environments, the deployment would be changed to the relevant environment name, and a new branch-based pipeline would be created to push to Development.

Custom: Feature

This pipeline takes any branch and allows to build to a custom "feature" branch on the hosting provider repository. This allows for easily creating "Feature" environments on the hosting provider.

This pipeline uses the default "Build package" and "Deploy package" pipeline steps. "The Deploy package" step defaults to run a "Feature" deployment, which will need to be created under the Settings > Pipelines > Deployments tab on Bitbucket Pipelines.

To run this pipeline:

  • go to the "Branches" section of your Bitbucket account
  • click the "..." to the very right of the branch that you want to build
  • select "Run pipeline for a branch"
  • select the "custom: feature" pipeline
  • fill out what you want the feature branch on the hosting provider repo to be called in the "DESTINATION_REPOSITORY_BRANCH" field (ex: feature/header-redesign)
  • click "Run"

This pipeline automatically runs on pull-requests. It does a full build and then lints the code; it fails if any issues arise.

This pipeline uses the default "Build package" and "Test package" pipeline steps. It does not deploy code.

Files included in KIT

The following are grouped to give context for which files/directories can be modified or removed.

Provider-specific files: Acquia
  • /hooks/common
  • /hooks/dev
  • /hooks/prod
  • /hooks/samples
  • /hooks/test
Provider-specific files: AWS
  • /.ebextensions
Provider-specific files: Pantheon
  • /pantheon.yml
  • /scripts/pantheon/*
Provider-specific files: Platform
Universal files
  • /docroot/web.config (we don't typically use ASP.NET; kept for reference if needed in the project)
  • /env.example (we don't suggest env files; kept for reference if needed in the project)
  • /package.json (was used by packagist to create project and no longer needed)
  • /travis.yml (we don't typically use travis; kept for reference if needed in the project)

Provider-specific modifications

Modifications to make to the project based on which hosting provider is chosen.

Provider-specific modifications: Acquia
  1. Remove unnecessary files and directories for Acquia:
  2. Settings.php modifications
    1. Open /docroot/sites/www/settings.php and find the "Include server-specific configuration." section.
    2. Uncomment the Acquia portion.
    3. Remove uneeded server-specific configuration from other providers.
Provider-specific modifications: AWS
  1. Remove unnecessary files and directories for
  2. Settings.php modifications
    1. Open /docroot/sites/www/settings.php and find the "Include server-specific configuration." section.
    2. Uncomment the AWS portion.
    3. Modify appropriately.
    4. Remove uneeded server-specific configuration from other providers.
Provider-specific modifications: Pantheon
  1. Remove unnecessary files and directories for Pantheon:
  2. Rename /docroot to /web.
  3. Create symlink from installed sites directory to sites/default/files
    1. cd to /sites/www (or other site directory if multisite).
    2. run rm -rf files to remove current files directory.
    3. run ln -s ../default/files files to create symlink to default files directory (which is then symlinked to /files on Pantheon's end). Make sure that a /default/files directory exists locally so files have a place to go.
    4. run git add files and commit symlink to repo.
  4. Place post-deploy script in the correct place for pantheon to read it (inside the web directory).
    1. Create /web/private/scripts directory.
    2. Move /scripts/pantheon/post_deploy.php file into /web/private/scripts.
    3. Remove empty /scripts/pantheon folder.
  5. Settings.php modifications
    1. Copy over the settings.pantheon.php file from your initial pantheon install into your www (or relevant sites directory).
    2. Open /web/sites/www/settings.php and find the "Include server-specific configuration." section.
    3. Uncomment the Pantheon portion.
    4. Remove uneeded server-specific configuration from other providers.
Provider-specific modifications:
  1. Remove unnecessary files and directories for
  2. Settings.php modifications
    1. Copy over the settings.platformsh.php file from your initial install into your www (or relevant sites directory).
    2. Open /docroot/sites/www/settings.php and find the "Include server-specific configuration." section.
    3. Uncomment the portion.
    4. Remove uneeded server-specific configuration from other providers.

@TODO Some files and configuration are missing for, which still needed to be included in KIT.

Renaming docroot to web

Some providers require a different docroot directory.

  1. Rename docroot directory to web.
  2. Update docroot references to web in the following files:
    • /.docksal/docksal.env
    • /.gitignore
    • /composer.json (will need to run composer install afterward to regenerate autoload.php file)
    • /drush/* files (/drush/sites/, etc.)
    • /patches/htaccess.patch
    • /source/gulpfile.js
    • /source/eslintrc.js

Notes and suggestions

Environment aliases (for pre-go-live)

We've found that adding an environment prefix to the production url is a low-effort/high-reward action. This allows for environment URLs that are easier to remember and access, both for those working on the site and for clients.

Theme Development

When creating a new theme using the fin kit/theme command you'll have two directory structures created for you:

  1. docroot/themes/custom/yourtheme - This is meant to only contain the files Drupal needs to render the site - e.g. css, javascript, images, template files. It does not contain any source files used to generate those files (e.g. sass files). It's important to note that some files under this directory are generated (see next point) and some (e.g. template files) should be edited directly.

  2. source/themes/custom/yourtheme - Contains all of the source files used to generate the files in docroot/themes/custom/yourtheme.

Gulp is used to process the files in source and writes the corresponding output to the matching theme directory under docroot. The default gulp file (source/gulpfile.js) is set up with a set of basic tasks needed by most themes. It is also set up to run those tasks in all of the directories under source/themes/custom. This allows the developer to have multiple themes (e.g. a base theme and child themes) under development and use a single command to build them all.

The following functionality is provided by the default gulp file:

  • Sass - Processes all of the scss files under styles in each theme directory and generates source maps. The output is places in docroot/themes/custom/yourtheme/css.
  • Javascript - Copies and generates source maps for all js files under scripts in each theme directory. The output is placed in docroot/custom/yourtheme/js.
  • Images - Minifies all images under images and places the output in docroot/custom/yourtheme/images.
  • Fonts - Copies all the files under fonts to docroot/custom/yourtheme/fonts.
  • Icons - Compiles all the svg files under icons and writes the out put to the docroot/custom/yourtheme/styles/vendor and docroot/custom/yourtheme/fonts/icons directories.
  • Testing - Linting of sass and javascript files as configured in source/.sass-lint.yml and source/.eslintrc.

Tasks provided by the default gulp file are:

  • default - Builds the Sass, Javascript, Images, Fonts, and Icons as described above.
  • test - Runs the sass and javascript linters.
  • watch - Builds everything included in the default task as file change in the source directory structure.