CiviCRM CLI Utility
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The cv command is a utility for interacting with a CiviCRM installation. It performs an automatic scan to locate and boot the CiviCRM installation. It provides command-line access to helper functions and configuration data, such as APIv3 and site URLs.


A local CiviCRM installation.

PHP v5.4+.

Support may vary depending on the host environment (CMS type, file-structure, symlinks, etc).

  • Tested heavily: Drupal 7 single-site, WordPress single-site, UnitTests
  • Tested lightly: Backdrop single-site, WordPress (alternate content root)
  • Untested: Drupal 7 multi-site, WordPress multi-site, Joomla, Drupal 6, Drupal 8; any heavy symlinking
    • Tip: If you use an untested or incompatible host environment, then you may see the error Failed to locate civicrm.settings.php. See StackExchange to discuss work-arounds.


cv is distributed in PHAR format, which is a portable executable file (for PHP). It should run on most Unix-like systems where PHP 5.4+ is installed.

Simply download cv and put it somewhere in the PATH, eg

sudo curl -LsS -o /usr/local/bin/cv
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/cv

Need PHP 5.3?: The last version to support PHP v5.3 was cv v0.1.32. Please note that the current version of civicrm-core no longer supports PHP v5.3.


cv provides a number of subcommands. To see a list, run cv without any arguments.

For detailed help about a specific subcommand, use -h as in cv api -h.

There are some general conventions:

  • Many subcommands support common bootstrap options, such as --user, --level, and --test.
  • Many subcommands support multiple output formats using --out. You may set a general preference with an environment variable, e.g. export CV_OUTPUT=json-pretty or export CV_OUTPUT=php.

Example: CLI

me@localhost$ cd /var/www/my/web/site
me@localhost$ cv vars:show
me@localhost$ cv scr /path/to/throwaway.php
me@localhost$ cv ev 'echo Civi::paths()->get("[civicrm.root]/.");'
me@localhost$ cv url civicrm/dashboard --open
me@localhost$ cv api contact.get last_name=Smith
me@localhost$ cv dl cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv en cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv dis cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv debug:container
me@localhost$ cv debug:event-dispatcher
me@localhost$ cv flush

If you intend to run unit-tests, and if you do not use civibuild, then you may need to supply some additional site information (such as the name of the test users). To do this, run:

me@localhost$ cd /var/www/my/web/site
me@localhost$ cv vars:fill
me@localhost$ vi ~/.cv.json

Example: PHP

Suppose you have a standalone script or a test runner which needs to execute in the context of a CiviCRM site. You don't want to hardcode it to a specific path, create special-purpose config files, or require a specific directory structure. Instead, call cv php:boot and eval(). The simplest way:

eval(`cv php:boot`)

However, it is better to create a small wrapper function to improve error-handling and output parsing:

 * Call the "cv" command.
 * @param string $cmd
 *   The rest of the command to send.
 * @param string $decode
 *   Ex: 'json' or 'phpcode'.
 * @return string
 *   Response output (if the command executed normally).
 * @throws \RuntimeException
 *   If the command terminates abnormally.
function cv($cmd, $decode = 'json') {
  $cmd = 'cv ' . $cmd;
  $descriptorSpec = array(0 => array("pipe", "r"), 1 => array("pipe", "w"), 2 => STDERR);
  $env = $_ENV + array('CV_OUTPUT' => 'json');
  $process = proc_open($cmd, $descriptorSpec, $pipes, __DIR__, $env);
  $result = stream_get_contents($pipes[1]);
  if (proc_close($process) !== 0) {
    throw new RuntimeException("Command failed ($cmd):\n$result");
  switch ($decode) {
    case 'raw':
      return $result;

    case 'phpcode':
      // If the last output is /*PHPCODE*/, then we managed to complete execution.
      if (substr(trim($result), 0, 12) !== "/*BEGINPHP*/" || substr(trim($result), -10) !== "/*ENDPHP*/") {
        throw new \RuntimeException("Command failed ($cmd):\n$result");
      return $result;

    case 'json':
      return json_decode($result, 1);

      throw new RuntimeException("Bad decoder format ($decode)");

eval(cv('php:boot', 'phpcode'));
$config = cv('vars:show');
printf("We should navigate to the dsahboard: %s\n\n", cv('url civicrm/dashboard'));

Example: NodeJS



To build a new phar executable, use box:

$ git clone
$ cd cv
$ composer install
$ php -dphar.readonly=0 `which box` build

Unit-Tests (Standard)

To run the standard test suite, you will need to pick an existing CiviCRM installation and put it in CV_TEST_BUILD, as in:

$ git clone
$ cd cv
$ composer install
$ export CV_TEST_BUILD=/home/me/buildkit/build/dmaster/
$ phpunit4 --group std
PHPUnit 4.8.21 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.

Configuration read from /home/me/src/cv/phpunit.xml.dist


Time: 2 seconds, Memory: 6.50Mb

OK (49 tests, 121 assertions)

We generally choose an existing installation based on civibuild configuration like dmaster. The above example assumes that your build is located at /home/me/buildkit/build/dmaster/.

To be quite thorough, you may want to test against multiple builds (e.g. with various CMS's and file structures). Prepare these builds separately and loop through them, e.g.

$ for CV_TEST_BUILD in /home/me/buildkit/build/{dmaster,wpmaster,bmaster} ; do export CV_TEST_BUILD; phpunit4 --group std; done

Unit-Tests (Installer)

The cv core:install and cv core:uninstall commands have more stringent execution requirements, e.g.

  • Each test-run needs to work with an empty build (which does not have a Civi database or settings file). It specifically calls civibuild and amp to create+destroy builds during execution.
  • These commands, in turn, may add new vhosts and databases. This can require elevated privileges (sudo).
  • These commands have more potential failure points (e.g. intermittent networking issues can disrupt the test). To monitor them, you should set DEBUG=1.
  • There must be a copy of the civicrm-setup source tree. At time of writing, this is not yet bundled with the main tarballs, but you can set CV_SETUP_PATH to point to your own copy.

Given these extra requirements, this test runs as a separate group.

A typical execution might look like:

$ env DEBUG=1 OFFLINE=1 CV_SETUP_PATH=$HOME/src/civicrm-setup phpunit4 --group installer