Clean your code in Atom with PHPCS (Ubuntu)

PHP Code Sniffer (aka PHPCS) is, in my opinion, the most basic tool for professional PHP development. To be fair, I would also add another popular PHP linter, the PHP Mess Detector (PHPMD). If you are not using them, you should start doing it right now.

Linters analyze your code and warn you about bad practices, bad coding styling, and help you to build better and more professional code.

For the PHP Mess Detector, check my tutorial here.

1. Install PHPCS:

Check if phpcs is installed:

phpcs -i
(out)Command 'phpcs' not found, but can be installed with:
(out)sudo apt install php-codesniffer

Install it globally:

composer global require squizlabs/php_codesniffer

Get the phpcs binary path:

composer global config bin-dir --absolute
(out)Changed current directory to /home/daniel/.config/composer

Add it to your PATH, by editing ~/.profile and adding these lines at the bottom:

export PATH=/home/daniel/.config/composer/vendor/bin:$PATH

Now, you need to do a logout/login. Closing and opening the shell won’t work. You could run a “source ~/.profile”, but it would work just for the opened shell. So, do the logout/login.

2. Check installed coding styles:

After logout/login, check if it is installed:

phpcs -i
(out)The installed coding standards are Squiz, PHPCS, Zend, PSR1, PSR2, PEAR and MySource

3. Install phpcodesniffer-composer-installer:

This package is a life-saver. Without it, you need to manually set up paths, which can lead to accidental misconfigurations and overwriting.

composer global require --dev dealerdirect/phpcodesniffer-composer-installer

4. [Optional] Install extra coding styles system-wide: WordPress, Joomla, etc:


composer global require wp-coding-standards/wpcs:*

It is also recommended to install the PHPCompatibilityWP package too:

composer global require --dev phpcompatibility/phpcompatibility-wp:*

WordPress VIP:

composer global require --dev automattic/vipwpcs:*


If you get this error: “Could not find a version of package joomla/coding-standards matching your minimum-stability (stable). Require it with an explicit version constraint allowing its desired stability.“, decrease your stability requirements to dev.

composer global config minimum-stability dev
composer global require --dev joomla/coding-standards:*
composer global config minimum-stability stable

Check installed rules:

phpcs -i
(out)The installed coding standards are Squiz, Zend, PSR1, PSR2, PEAR, MySource, PSR12, PHPCompatibility, Joomla, Joomla-CMS, Joomla-Stats, PHPCompatibilityParagonieRandomCompat, PHPCompatibilityParagonieSodiumCompat, PHPCompatibilityWP, WordPress-VIP-Go, WordPressVIPMinimum, WordPress-Docs, WordPress, WordPress-Core and WordPress-Extra

4. Get the bin path:

which phpcs

In this example, the bin path is /home/daniel/.config/composer/vendor/bin/phpcs.

5. In Atom, install linter and linter-php packages:

In Atom, install packages linter and linter-php by AtomLinter:
Ctrl+Shift+P > Install Packages and Themes > linter-php

6. In Atom, install linter-phpcs package:

In Atom, install package linter-phpcs by AtomLinter:
Ctrl+Shift+P > Install Packages and Themes > linter-phpcs

Install any dependency (if required):

Disable linter. I know, we have just installed it as a dependency:

Click on Settings to configure linter-phpcs:

Set the bin path and the coding standard you want to use:

And that’s it. Now you will see hints / warnings to improve your code :)

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