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Meta File Generator

Model Typehinting

Model Autocomplete

PhpStorm TOC


This command will generate your .ide-helper.meta.php in your app's ROOT/.phpstorm.meta.php/ directory:

bin/cake phpstorm generate

Make sure it is indexed (maybe a restart of PhpStorm could be required).

Note: We are using a directory here to allow custom and manually created meta files along with this generated file. Any file inside this directory will be parsed and used. Prefixing with a . dot is recommended for PHPCS to skip this file automatically.

Available tasks


In your Application.php you can, after composer requiring (and refreshing meta file), auto-complete the available plugins for your addPlugin() calls:

    public function bootstrap() {

This is especially useful for more complex and possibly vendor-prefix names (e.g. 'Cake/TwigView', note the forward slash).


/** @var \App\Model\Table\UsersTable $users */
$users = TableRegistry::get('Users');

So far $users required the annotation above to be typehinted and clickable. With the generated meta file this becomes not necessary anymore. It will automatically detect this static factory call in the map and hint $users as \App\Model\Table\UsersTable, making doSomething() available in the IDE for method argument checking and following.

This task also annotates the dynamic model factory calls (e.g. $this->getTableLocator()->get('Users')) or loadModel() usage.

Model Autocomplete loadModel

If you prefer FQCN as argument, you will still get the benefit here for the return type:

use App\Model\Table\UsersTable;

$users = TableRegistry::get(UsersTable::class);

It now knows the concrete object of $users and can autocomplete the method call right away.

You will not be able to quickly select from a list of input options, however.


The following is now auto-completed, for example:



The following is now auto-completed, for example:



The 'threaded' string is now auto-completed, for example:


Note: Using Configure key 'IdeHelper.preemptive' set to true you can be a bit more verbose and include all possible custom finders, including those from behaviors.

Model Autocomplete finder


The following is now auto-completed, for example:

$this->removeBehavior('Slugged'); // Note the alias without plugin prefix


The following is now auto-completed, for example:

$this->components()->unload('Useful'); // Note the alias without plugin prefix


The following is now auto-completed, for example:


And so is the addHelper() (added in CakePHP 4.1) on the ViewBuilder:



The following is now auto-completed and returns the corresponding Mailer class:

$userMailer = $this->getMailer('User');


In your bootstrap (app, or plugin), you might add additional database Type classes, or you reconfigure existing ones:

Type::build('datetime')->useLocaleParser()->setLocaleFormat('d.m.Y H:i');

The IDE will now recognize the returned type of class and allow auto-complete here, too.

Same for Type::map() and type strings like integer, string etc:

Type::map('decimal', ...);


Are you making heavy use of elements in templates? Tired of typing the full template name in $this->element('...') calls?

With this generator PhpStorm can auto-complete this, including all elements for plugins.


$this->viewBuilder->setLayout(...) is now auto-completed.


Cache::write(), Cache::read() and other methods are now auto-completed for the cache engine(s) available.


$this->Form->control() is now auto-completed for the model fields available.



Validation Autocomplete Validator::requirePresence()

Now not just bool true/false, but also the possible "magic strings" are typehinted and usable as single click/enter.

Request params

$this->request->getParam() auto-completes for prefix, controller and other common keys.

Configure keys

Configure Autocomplete

Configure::read() as well as the other methods are auto-completed for currently existing keys. Numeric keys are excluded as they are usually not part of an associative array config.

ENV keys

env() is auto-completed for most common and used keys.

Translation keys

Using __() and __d() can be auto-completed based on your project's .po files.

Note: PhpStorm is not smart enough yet to auto-adjust any (escaped or not) quotes in your strings. So in those cases you must be using ' as delimiters for your strings, if you want auto-complete:

<?php echo __('A "quoted" string'); ?>
<?php echo __('A \'literally quoted\' string'); ?>
<?php echo __('A variable \'\'{0}\'\' be replaced.', __('will')); ?>

Any further ' inside will be escaped for you.


ConnectionManager::get() is auto-completed for the currently configured connection aliases.


TestCase::addFixture() is auto-completed for the currently available fixtures from app, core and plugins.

Migrations plugin database tables

When using the Migrations plugin, this task will come in handy to quickly autocomplete existing tables, their column names and possible column types.

It by default excludes CakePHP internal tables and all phinxlog ones. You can use a regex blacklist to further exclude certain tables:

'IdeHelper' => [
    'skipDatabaseTables' => [

Adding your own tasks

Just create your own Task class:

namespace App\Generator\Task;

use IdeHelper\Generator\Task\TaskInterface;

class MyTask implements TaskInterface {

     * @return \IdeHelper\Generator\Directive\BaseDirective[]
    public function collect(): array {


Then add it to the config:

'IdeHelper' => [
    'generatorTasks' => [
        'MyTask' => \App\Generator\Task\MyTask::class,

The key 'MyTask' can be any string but it must be unique across all existing tasks.

Replacing native tasks

Using associative arrays you can even exchange any native task with your own implementation:

'IdeHelper' => [
    'generatorTasks' => [
        \IdeHelper\Generator\Task\ModelTask::class => \App\Generator\Task\MyEnhancedModelTask::class,

The native class name is the key then, your replacement the value. Setting the value to null completely disables a native task.

Available directives


By default, most directives used here are "override". Those are also the ones already supported the longest. For specific string method argument it returns a specific object. That covers a lot of CakePHP's internal magic.

$method = '\Namespace\PackageName\MyFactory::create(0)';
$map = [
    'alpha' => '\My\Cool\Alpha::class',
    'beta' => '\My\Cool\Beta::class',
$directive = new Override($method, $map);

You can also use the ClassName VO together with real ::class usage and imports:

use IdeHelper\ValueObject\ClassName;
use My\Cool\Alpha;
use My\Cool\Beta;

$map = [
    'alpha' => ClassName::create(Alpha::class),
    'beta' => ClassName::create(Beta::class),

With this you can set default values to chose from for method arguments. Specify the parameter count as 0-based value.

$method = '\Namespace\PackageName\MyFactory::create()';
$position = 0;
$list = [
$directive = new ExpectedArguments($method, $position, $list);

Note the escaped quotes around literal string values. If you want to make it a bit cleaner, use the StringName VO, as it auto-quotes on output:

use IdeHelper\ValueObject\StringName;

$list = [

You can also just expected return types for a method.

$method = '\Namespace\PackageName\MyFactory::create()';
$list = [
$directive = new ExpectedReturnValues($method, $list);

If you are reusing the same lists for both arguments and return values, you can also make a set and reuse that in the above directives.

$set = 'mySet';
$list = [
$directive = new RegisterArgumentsSet($set, $list);

Now you can use it as list value argumentsSet('mySet') inside the others. For this just pass the $directive object itself to the list, which then contains only this one element.

Note that you can also the LiteralName VO for constants and whatever does not need to be outputted as string:

use IdeHelper\ValueObject\LiteralName;

$list = [

If you want to reuse existing argument sets from other tasks, you can use the ArgumentsSet value object referencing them:

use IdeHelper\Generator\Directive\ExpectedArguments;
use IdeHelper\ValueObject\ArgumentsSet;

$method = '\\' . static::CLASS_FORMAT_HELPER . '::sidebarLink()';
$list = [
$directive = new ExpectedArguments($method, 1, $list);

Just make sure those argument sets are actually available, as this is not checked for you.


This new directive can help to let the IDE know what methods abort the current code flow. It will show "Unreachable statement" warning and usually highlight the following code in yellow to inform you.

$directive = new ExitPoint('\My\Class::method()');


So let's imagine you have the following methods you want to annotate:

$alpha = MyFactory::create('alpha'); // Returns \My\Cool\Alpha class
$beta = MyFactory::create('beta'); // Returns \My\Cool\Beta class

Then let's create an Override, to get the correct class instance returned:

$method = '\Namespace\PackageName\MyFactory::create(0)';
$map = [
    'alpha' => '\My\Cool\Alpha::class',
    'beta' => '\My\Cool\Beta::class',
$override = new Override($method, $map);

Note that map keys are usually always strings and outputted auto-quoted by default. So you can treat them always as simple/literal strings.

Now let's imagine you have multiple class methods that can return some constants. Here we first create the reusable set:

$list = [
$argumentsSet = new RegisterArgumentsSet('mySet', $list);

Now we can use it for all methods:

$method = '\My\Cool\Executer::execute()';
$list = [
$expectedReturnValues = new ExpectedReturnValues($method, $list);

Then make sure your Task's collect() method returns all of them:

return [
    $override->key() => $override,
    $argumentsSet->key() => $argumentsSet,
    $expectedReturnValues->key() => $expectedReturnValues,

As key for the directive values always use their ->key() string.

For more examples and details see their documentation.

Literal keys

If you really need literal string keys (no auto quoting), you can use the KeyValue VO:

$key = ClassName::create(Bar::class);
$value = ClassName::create(Bar::class);
$keyValue = KeyValue::create($key, $value);

// Now use it as as any other value
$map = [
    'thisKeyIsOnlyForSortingNow' => $keyValue,
$directive = new Override('\\' . Table::class . '::returnMy(0)', $map);

It allows you to control the quoting of both key and value. The map key here is only used for sorting then.

Note: This VO can only be used for the Override directive which actually makes use of associative keys.

Include/Exclude Plugins

Many plugins don't need to be "loaded". Those usually would not be included in the generator tasks,though. If you want to add some not loaded plugins into the list of plugins to process, use:

'IdeHelper' => [
    'plugins' => [

With the - prefix, you can even exclude loaded plugins from being processed.

CI or pre-commit check

Using -d (dry run) option you will get an error code 2 if the file would need updating. This way you can automate the check for CI tooling or commit hooks.

Reusing sets

You can re-use sets that are present from any of the built-in or your custom tasks.

In verbose mode the console gives you the available sets for re-use:

bin/cake phpstorm generate -v

You can then just directly make use of them in any matching directive (for such lists):

  • ExpectedArguments
  • ExpectedReturnValues