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Controlling CMS Settings Files in DDEV

One DDEV feature that lots of people love is its creation and management of CMS-specific settings files. This makes starting and installing a new project a breeze, and is a fantastic time-saver for many users. People can follow one of the many DDEV-Local Quickstart Guides and have a project up and installed in no time. To make this happen, DDEV-Local does a quite a bit of settings management for explicitly supported CMSs. DDEV will:

  • Create a main settings file if none exists (like Drupal's settings.php).
  • Create a specialty config file with DDEV-specific settings (like AdditionalSettings.php for TYPO3 or settings.ddev.php for Drupal).
  • Add an include of the specialty file if needed (like adding settings.ddev.php include to the bottom of settings.php for Drupal.

This really helps new users and people who are kicking the tires on a CMS. Plus it's helpful for many developers in their regular workflow. However, there are plenty of you who have sophisticated team and project workflows and don't want DDEV to manage settings files, or prefer to manage your own. DDEV has always tried to give you control as needed:

  • If you don't want DDEV to touch a file, remove the #ddev-generated line from that file, empty it or put your own contents in it, and check it into version control. DDEV will then ignore that file and not try to regenerate it.
  • If you later want DDEV to take that file over again, just remove the one that you edited and ddev start and ddev will create its own version. (You may have to remove it from your git project if you added it).
  • If you don't want DDEV to even know what kind of CMS (or other project) you have, just use type: php in your .ddev/config.yaml (or run ddev config --project-type=php). DDEV will no longer create or tweak any settings files, you're now on your own (The one drawback of this approach is that you don't get the nginx configuration which has been tweaked for your CMS. But, as always, you can create your own nginx or apache configurations.) (docs).
  • If you want DDEV to know about the project type, but not create settings files, use disable_settings_management: true. If you want DDEV to use the CMS-specific nginx configuration, but don't want it to touch anything else, you can put disable_settings_management: true in your .ddev/config.yaml (or run ddev config --disable-settings-management) and DDEV won't try to create any of the CMS-specific settings files.
  • There is also an environment variable $IS_DDEV_PROJECT that can be used to fence off DDEV-specific behavior. For example, with $IS_DDEV_PROJECT empty, the important parts of settings.ddev.php and AdditionalSettings.php (for TYPO3) are not executed. This means that DDEV's settings.ddev.php won't be invoked if it somehow ends up in a production environment or in a non-DDEV local development environment.
  • The .ddev/.gitignore is created by ddev start because it gitignores itself. So the intention is that you should not check in the .ddev/.gitignore and it will be created on start if disable_settings_management is false. This helps teams to share .ddev folder checked in by git, even if the .ddev/.gitignore changes with different versions.

CMS-Specific Help and Techniques

Drupal Specifics

  • Settings Files: By default, DDEV will create settings files for your project that make it "just work" out of the box. It creates a sites/default/settings.ddev.php and adds an include in sites/default/settings.php to bring that in. There are guards to prevent the settings.ddev.php from being active when the project is not running under DDEV, but it still should not be checked in and is gitignored.
  • Twig Debugging: With the default Drupal configuration, it's very difficult to debug Twig templates; you need to use instead of services.yml. Add this line in your settings.php or settings.local.php. See discussion at and of course the Drupal documentation.
$settings['container_yamls'][] = DRUPAL_ROOT . '/sites/';

TYPO3 Specifics

  • Settings Files: On ddev start, DDEV creates a public/typo3conf/AdditionalConfiguration.php with database configuration in it.

Setup a Base Variant (since TYPO3 9.5)

Since TYPO3 9.5 you have to setup a Site Configuration for each site you like to serve. To be able to browse the site on your local environment you have to setup a Base Variant in your Site Configuration depending on your local context. In this example we assume a Application Context Development/DDEV which can be set in the DDEV's config.yaml:

- TYPO3_CONTEXT=Development/DDEV

This variable will be available after the project start or restart.

Afterwards add a Base Variant to your Site Configuration:

    base: ''
    condition: 'applicationContext == "Development/DDEV"'

See also TYPO3 Documentation.

Running any PHP App with DDEV

Nearly any PHP app will run fine with DDEV, and lots of others. If your project type is not one of the explicitly supported project types, that's fine. Just set the project type to 'php' and go about setting up settings files or .env as you normally would.

Last update: August 31, 2022