IntelliJ IDEA 2023.1 Help


IntelliJ IDEA provides code style check through integration with the PHP_CodeSniffer tool, which validates your code for consistency with a coding standard of your choice. You can appoint one of the predefined coding standards or use your own previously defined coding standard with the root directory outside the default PHP_CodeSniffer’s Standards directory. Moreover, you can share your custom coding style with your team.

To use PHP_CodeSniffer from IntelliJ IDEA instead of command line, you need to register it in IntelliJ IDEA and configure it as a IntelliJ IDEA code inspection. Once installed and enabled in IntelliJ IDEA, the tool is available in any opened PHP file, and no additional steps are required to launch it. The on-the-fly code check is activated upon every update in the file thus making it easy to get rid of discovered problems.

Errors and warnings reported by PHP_CodeSniffer on-the-fly are highlighted in the editor. When the tool is run in the batch mode, the errors and warnings are displayed in the Problems tool window. Each message has the phpcs prefix to distinguish it from IntelliJ IDEA internal inspections.

IntelliJ IDEA also integrates with the PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer tool, which lets you fix many of the detected issues.

Install the PHP plugin

This functionality relies on the PHP plugin, which you need to install and enable.

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+S to open the IDE settings and select Plugins.

  2. Open the Marketplace tab, find the PHP plugin, and click Install (restart the IDE if prompted).


Prior to integrating PHP_CodeSniffer in IntelliJ IDEA, make sure the following prerequisites are met:

  • You are working with PHP_CodeSniffer version 1.5.0 and later.

  • The directory containing the PHP engine executable must be added to the system path. This allows code quality tool scripts execute calls to the system-wide PHP engine.

  • For Docker Compose-based remote interpreters, make sure to use docker-compose exec mode to avoid spawning additional containers.

    1. In the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), go to Languages & Frameworks | PHP.

    2. On the PHP page that opens, click the Browse button next to the CLI Interpreter list.

    3. In the CLI Interpreters dialog that opens, set the Lifecycle mode for the selected interpreter to Connect to existing container ('docker-compose exec') .

      docker-compose exec for PHP interpreter

Install and configure PHP_CodeSniffer

Install PHP_CodeSniffer with Composer

When you install PHP_CodeSniffer with Composer, IntelliJ IDEA automatically downloads the necessary scripts, registers them in the IDE, and, optionally, enables and configures the corresponding code inspection.

  1. Inside composer.json, add the squizlabs/php_codesniffer dependency record to the require or require-dev section. Press Ctrl+Space to get code completion for the package name and version.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click the Install shortcut link on top of the editor panel.

    • If the Non-installed Composer packages inspection is enabled, IntelliJ IDEA will highlight the declared dependencies that are not currently installed. Press Alt+Enter and select whether you want to install a specific dependency or all dependencies at once.

Click the Settings button next to the package record in the composer.json editor gutter to jump to the corresponding Settings page and configure PHP_CodeSniffer manually.

Gutter icon for php_codesniffer settings in composer.json

Reset PHP_CodeSniffer configuration

After PHP_CodeSniffer is initially configured, further modifications in composer.json will not affect the inspection configuration. To apply newer changes, reset the PHP_CodeSniffer configuration.

  1. In the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), navigate to Languages & Frameworks | PHP | Quality Tools.

  2. On the Quality Tools page that opens, expand the PHP_CodeSniffer area and click the Browse button next to the Configuration list.

  3. In the PHP_CodeSniffer dialog that opens, empty the PHP_CodeSniffer path field.

    Empty PHP_CodeSniffer path field
  4. Update the project Composer dependencies by clicking Update on top of the composer.json editor panel. See Update dependencies for details.

IntelliJ IDEA will perform the PHP_CodeSniffer configuration anew and thus apply the changes in composer.json.

Configure PHP_CodeSniffer in IntelliJ IDEA

When you install PHP_CodeSniffer with Composer, IntelliJ IDEA automatically detects PHP_CodeSniffer's and PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer's executable files in the vendor/bin folder and sets the PHP interpreter configured in the system path to run them.

In Settings (Ctrl+Alt+S) | Languages & Frameworks | PHP | Quality Tools | PHP_CodeSniffer, you can change the default PHP interpreter, set the path to a manually downloaded and installed PHP_CodeSniffer executable file, or add some options to be passed to PHP_CodeSniffer when running it in IntelliJ IDEA.

PHP_CodeSniffer settings

Enable PHP_CodeSniffer as an IntelliJ IDEA inspection

There are two ways to set up PHP_CodeSniffer as a IntelliJ IDEA inspection: automatically during PHP_CodeSniffer installation with Composer, or manually in IntelliJ IDEA's inspections settings.

Enable the PHP_CodeSniffer inspection with Composer

You can include the information on the default and custom PHP_CodeSniffer rulesets inside the scripts section of composer.json. When you install or update project dependencies, the specified rulesets will be detected and the PHP_CodeSniffer validation inspection will be enabled automatically.

If no ruleset is specified in the scripts section of composer.json, IntelliJ IDEA will additionally check the project root to locate the ruleset with the phpcs.xml default name. If the file is present, it will be automatically selected as the inspection's Custom ruleset.

  • In the scripts section of composer.json, add the phpcs PHP_CodeSniffer launch command into one of the leaf elements.

    Provide the --standard argument to denote the coding standard used. For example, adding the following record will set the coding standard to PSR2:

    "scripts": { "phpcs": "phpcs --standard=PSR2" }

    Adding the following record will set the coding standard to Custom and the path to the ruleset to <project root>/phpcs.xml:

    "scripts": { "phpcs": "phpcs --standard=phpcs.xml" }

Additionally, you can provide a custom non-PSR standard dependency inside the require-dev section of composer.json to have it detected automatically. Currently, the following standards are supported:

Enable PHP_CodeSniffer validation in Inspections settings

  1. In the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), click Inspections under Editor.

  2. On the Inspections page that opens, expand the PHP | Quality Tools node and select the checkbox next to PHP_CodeSniffer validation.

    Select PHP_CodeSniffer validation checkbox
  3. On the right-hand pane of the page, configure how IntelliJ IDEA handles the PHP_CodeSniffer inspection output:

    • Scope: choose the scope to limit the inspection application to.

    • Severity: choose the severity degree for the inspection. The selected value determines how seriously the detected discrepancies will be treated by IntelliJ IDEA and presented in the inspection results.

    • Highlighting in editor: choose how the issues detected by the inspection are highlighted in the editor.

Run PHP_CodeSniffer in the batch mode

  1. From the main menu, select Code | Inspect code.

  2. In the Specify Inspection Scope dialog that opens, select the inspection profile from the list, or click Configure to open the Inspections dialog and configure a new profile.

    You can also click Configure to check which fixes will be applied within the scope of the selected inspection profile, and make sure that the PHP_CodeSniffer validation inspection is enabled.

  3. View the inspection results in the Problems tool window. Errors and warnings reported by PHP_CodeSniffer are prefixed with phpcs to distinguish them from IntelliJ IDEA internal inspections.

    PHP_CodeSniffer inspections list

Fix issues detected by PHP_CodeSniffer

IntelliJ IDEA integrates with the PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer tool, which lets you fix many of the detected issues. If you install PHP_CodeSniffer with Composer, PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer will be detected and set up automatically. Otherwise, you need to set it up manually.

Fix issues by using a quick-fix

Upon detecting an issue, IntelliJ IDEA highlights it in accordance with the PHP_CodeSniffer inspection settings.

  1. Place the caret at the detected issue and click the Intention action button, or press Alt+Enter.

  2. Select PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer: fix the whole file from the popup menu. Note that this will fix all issues detected in the current file.

You can also detect issues in the batch mode, or fix them automatically with code reformatting.

Fix issues with code reformatting

You can fix issues detected by PHP_CodeSniffer by running the Reformat Code action.

  1. Set PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer as an external formatter in the Quality Tools settings.

    To do so, in the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S) go to Languages & Frameworks |PHP | Quality Tools and select PHP Code Beautifier and Fixer in the External Formatters section.

    Select external formatter
  2. Apply Reformat Code to the required file or project scope:

    • For a code fragment or a file opened in the editor, select Code | Reformat Code from the main menu or press Ctrl+Alt+L.

    • For a selected file, directory, or group of files in the Project tool window, select Reformat Code from the context menu or press Ctrl+Alt+L.

Exclude files from PHP_CodeSniffer Validation inspection

When waiting for PHP_CodeSniffer response exceeds the limit specified in the Tool process timeout field in the PHP_CodeSniffer dialog, IntelliJ IDEA suggests adding the file to the ignore list.

  1. In the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), navigate to Languages & Frameworks | PHP | Quality Tools.

  2. On the Quality Tools page that opens, expand the PHP_CodeSniffer area and click the Show ignored files link.

    • To add a file, click the Add button and locate the desired file in the dialog that opens.

    • To delete a file from the list and have PHP_CodeSniffer process it again, select the file and click the Remove button.

    • To remove all the files from the list, click the Close button.

Last modified: 15 May 2023