PHP Static Analysis Tool - discover bugs in your code without running it!
Latest commit ee9a174 Jan 23, 2017 @petaak petaak committed with ondrejmirtes Remove unused variable

PHPStan - PHP Static Analysis Tool

Build Status Latest Stable Version License PHPStan

PHPStan focuses on finding errors in your code without actually running it. It catches whole classes of bugs even before you write tests for the code.


PHPStan moves PHP closer to compiled languages in the sense that the correctness of each line of the code can be checked before you run the actual line.

Read more about PHPStan on »

Is PHPStan helping you to avoid bugs in production?

Consider supporting it on Patreon so I'm able to make it even more awesome!

It currently performs the following checks on your code:

  • Existence of classes and interfaces in instanceof, catch, typehints, other language constructs and even annotations. PHP does not do this and just stays silent instead.
  • Existence of variables while respecting scopes of branches and loops.
  • Existence and visibility of called methods and functions.
  • Existence and visibility of accessed properties and constants.
  • Correct types assigned to properties.
  • Correct number and types of parameters passed to constructors, methods and functions.
  • Correct types returned from methods and functions.
  • Correct number of parameters passed to sprintf/printf calls based on format strings.
  • Useless casts like (string) 'foo'.
  • Unused constructor parameters - they can either be deleted or the author forgot to use them in the class code.
  • That only objects are passed to the clone keyword.


Unique feature of PHPStan is the ability to define and statically check "magic" behaviour of classes - accessing properties that are not defined in the class but are created in __get and __set and invoking methods using __call.

See Class reflection extensions and Dynamic return type extensions.

You can also install already created framework-specific extensions:

Other framework-specific extension will be coming soon!


PHPStan requires PHP >= 7.0. You have to run it in environment with PHP 7.x but the actual code does not have to use PHP 7.x features. (Code written for PHP 5.6 and earlier can run on 7.x mostly unmodified.)

PHPStan works best with modern object-oriented code. The more strongly-typed your code is, the more information you give PHPStan to work with.

Properly annotated and typehinted code (class properties, function and method arguments, return types) helps not only static analysis tools but also other people that work with the code to understand it.


To start performing analysis on your code, require PHPStan in Composer:

composer require --dev phpstan/phpstan

Composer will install PHPStan's executable in its bin-dir which defaults to vendor/bin.

You can also use PHPStan via Docker.

First run

To let PHPStan analyse your codebase, you have use the analyse commmand and point it to the right directories.

So for example if you have your classes in directories src and tests, you can run PHPStan like this:

vendor/bin/phpstan analyse src tests

PHPStan will probably find some errors, but don't worry, your code might be just fine. Errors found on the first run tend to be:

  • Extra arguments passed to functions (e. g. function requires two arguments, the code passes three)
  • Extra arguments passed to print/sprintf functions (e. g. format string contains one placeholder, the code passes two values to replace)
  • Obvious errors in dead code
  • Magic behaviour that needs to be defined. See Extensibility.

After fixing the obvious mistakes in the code, look to the following section for all the configuration options that will bring the number of reported errors to zero making PHPStan suitable to run as part of your continous integration script.

Rule levels

Rule levels. If you want to use PHPStan but your codebase isn't up to speed with strong typing and PHPStan's strict checks, you can choose from currently 5 levels (0 is the loosest and 4 is the strictest) by passing --level to analyse command. Default level is 0.

This feature enables incremental adoption of PHPStan checks. You can start using PHPStan with a lower rule level and increase it when you feel like it.

There's also experimental level 5 that currently enables:

  • Union types (Foo|Bar will be a specified type with checks performed on it instead of mixed)
  • Checking function and method argument types when calling them


Config file is passed to the phpstan executable with -c option:

vendor/bin/phpstan analyse -l 4 -c phpstan.neon src tests

When using a custom project config file, you have to pass the --level (-l) option to analyse command (default value does not apply here).

NEON file format is very similar to YAML. All the following options are part of the parameters section.


PHPStan uses Composer autoloader so the easiest way how to autoload classes is through the autoload/autoload-dev sections in composer.json.

Specify paths to scan

If PHPStan complains about some nonexistent classes and you're sure the classes exist in the codebase AND you don't want to use Composer autoloader for some reason, you can specify directories to scan and concrete files to include using autoload_directories and autoload_files array parameters:

        - %rootDir%/../../../build
        - %rootDir%/../../../generated/routes/GeneratedRouteList.php

%rootDir% is expanded to the root directory where PHPStan resides.

Autoloading for global installation

PHPStan supports global installation using composer global. In this case, it's not part of the project autoloader, but it supports autodiscovery of the Composer autoloader from current working directory residing in vendor/:

cd /path/to/project
phpstan analyse src tests # looks for autoloader at /path/to/project/vendor/autoload.php

If you have your dependencies installed at a different path or you're running PHPStan from a different directory, you can specify the path to the autoloader with the --autoload-file|-a option:

phpstan analyse --autoload-file=/path/to/autoload.php src tests

Exclude files from analysis

If your codebase contains some files that are broken on purpose (e. g. to test behaviour of your application on files with invalid PHP code), you can exclude them using the excludes_analyse array parameter. String at each line is used as a pattern for the fnmatch function.

        - %rootDir%/../../../tests/*/data/*

Universal object crates

Classes without predefined structure are common in PHP applications. They are used as universal holders of data - any property can be set and read on them. Notable examples include stdClass, SimpleXMLElement (these are enabled by default), objects with results of database queries etc. Use universalObjectCratesClasses array parameter to let PHPStan know which classes with these characteristics are used in your codebase:

        - Dibi\Row
        - Ratchet\ConnectionInterface

Add non-obviously assigned variables to scope

If you use the initial assignment variable after for-loop or while-loop, set polluteScopeWithLoopInitialAssignments boolean parameter to true.

for ($i = 0; $i < count($list); $i++) {
    // ...

echo $i;

If you use some variables from a try block in your catch blocks, set polluteCatchScopeWithTryAssignments boolean parameter to true.

try {
    $author = $this->getLoggedInUser();
    $post = $this->postRepository->getById($id);
} catch (PostNotFoundException $e) {
    // $author is probably defined here
    throw new ArticleByAuthorCannotBePublished($author);

If you are enumerating over all possible situations in if-elseif branches and PHPStan complains about undefined variables after the conditions, you can either write an else branch with throwing an exception:

if (somethingIsTrue()) {
    $foo = true;
} elseif (orSomethingElseIsTrue()) {
    $foo = false;
} else {
    throw new ShouldNotHappenException();


Or you can set defineVariablesWithoutDefaultBranch boolean parameter to true and leave the code like this:

if (somethingIsTrue()) {
    $foo = true;
} elseif (orSomethingElseIsTrue()) {
    $foo = false;


I recommend leaving polluteScopeWithLoopInitialAssignments, polluteCatchScopeWithTryAssignments and defineVariablesWithoutDefaultBranch set to false because it leads to a clearer and more maintainable code.

Custom early terminating method calls

Previous example showed that if a condition branches end with throwing an exception, that branch does not have to define a variable used after the condition branches end.

But exceptions are not the only way how to terminate execution of a method early. Some specific method calls can be perceived by project developers also as early terminating - like a redirect() that stops execution by throwing an internal exception.

if (somethingIsTrue()) {
    $foo = true;
} elseif (orSomethingElseIsTrue()) {
    $foo = false;
} else {


These methods can be configured by specifying a class on whose instance they are called like this:

            - redirect
            - redirectUrl
            - sendJson
            - sendResponse

Ignore error messages with regular expresions

If some issue in your code base is not easy to fix or just simply want to deal with it later, you can exclude error messages from the analysis result with regular expressions:

        - '#Call to an undefined method [a-zA-Z0-9\\_]+::method\(\)#'
        - '#Call to an undefined method [a-zA-Z0-9\\_]+::expects\(\)#'
        - '#Access to an undefined property PHPUnit_Framework_MockObject_MockObject::\$[a-zA-Z0-9_]+#'
        - '#Call to an undefined method PHPUnit_Framework_MockObject_MockObject::[a-zA-Z0-9_]+\(\)#'

If some of the patterns do not occur in the result anymore, PHPStan will let you know and you will have to remove the pattern from the configuration.

Bootstrap file

If you need to initialize something in PHP runtime before PHPStan runs (like your own autoloader), you can provide your own bootstrap file:

    bootstrap: %rootDir%/../../../phpstan-bootstrap.php

Custom rules

PHPStan allows writing custom rules to check for specific situations in your own codebase. Your rule class needs to implement the PHPStan\Rules\Rule interface and registered as a service in the configuration file:

        class: MyApp\PHPStan\Rules\DefaultValueTypesAssignedToPropertiesRule
            - phpstan.rules.rule

For inspiration on how to implement a rule turn to src/Rules to see a lot of built-in rules.

Class reflection extensions

Classes in PHP can expose "magical" properties and methods decided in run-time using class methods like __get, __set and __call. Because PHPStan is all about static analysis (testing code for errors without running it), it has to know about those properties and methods beforehand.

When PHPStan stumbles upon a property or a method that is unknown to built-in class reflection, it iterates over all registered class reflection extensions until it finds one that defines the property or method.

Properties class reflection extensions

This extension type must implement the following interface:

namespace PHPStan\Reflection;

interface PropertiesClassReflectionExtension

    public function hasProperty(ClassReflection $classReflection, string $propertyName): bool;

    public function getProperty(ClassReflection $classReflection, string $propertyName): PropertyReflection;


Most likely you will also have to implement a new PropertyReflection class:

namespace PHPStan\Reflection;

interface PropertyReflection

    public function getType(): Type;

    public function getDeclaringClass(): ClassReflection;

    public function isStatic(): bool;

    public function isPrivate(): bool;

    public function isPublic(): bool;


This is how you register the extension in project's PHPStan config file:

        class: App\PHPStan\PropertiesFromAnnotationsClassReflectionExtension

Methods class reflection extensions

This extension type must implement the following interface:

namespace PHPStan\Reflection;

interface MethodsClassReflectionExtension

    public function hasMethod(ClassReflection $classReflection, string $methodName): bool;

    public function getMethod(ClassReflection $classReflection, string $methodName): MethodReflection;


Most likely you will also have to implement a new MethodReflection class:

namespace PHPStan\Reflection;

interface MethodReflection

    public function getDeclaringClass(): ClassReflection;

    public function getPrototype(): self;

    public function isStatic(): bool;

    public function isPrivate(): bool;

    public function isPublic(): bool;

    public function getName(): string;

     * @return \PHPStan\Reflection\ParameterReflection[]
    public function getParameters(): array;

    public function isVariadic(): bool;

    public function getReturnType(): Type;


This is how you register the extension in project's PHPStan config file:

        class: App\PHPStan\EnumMethodsClassReflectionExtension

Dynamic return type extensions

If the return type of a method is not always the same, but depends on an argument passed to the method, you can specify the return type by writing and registering an extension.

Because you have to write the code with the type-resolving logic, it can be as complex as you want.

After writing the sample extension, the variable $mergedArticle will have the correct type:

$mergedArticle = $this->entityManager->merge($article);
// $mergedArticle will have the same type as $article

This is the interface for dynamic return type extension:

namespace PHPStan\Type;

use PhpParser\Node\Expr\MethodCall;
use PHPStan\Analyser\Scope;
use PHPStan\Reflection\MethodReflection;

interface DynamicMethodReturnTypeExtension

    public static function getClass(): string;

    public function isMethodSupported(MethodReflection $methodReflection): bool;

    public function getTypeFromMethodCall(MethodReflection $methodReflection, MethodCall $methodCall, Scope $scope): Type;


And this is how you'd write the extension that correctly resolves the EntityManager::merge() return type:

public static function getClass(): string
    return \Doctrine\ORM\EntityManager::class;

public function isMethodSupported(MethodReflection $methodReflection): bool
    return $methodReflection->getName() === 'merge';

public function getTypeFromMethodCall(MethodReflection $methodReflection, MethodCall $methodCall, Scope $scope): Type
    if (count($methodCall->args) === 0) {
        return $methodReflection->getReturnType();
    $arg = $methodCall->args[0]->value;
    $type = $scope->getType($arg);
    if ($type->getClass() !== null) {
        return $type;

    return $methodReflection->getReturnType();

And finally, register the extension to PHPStan in the project's config file:

        class: App\PHPStan\EntityManagerDynamicReturnTypeExtension

There's also an analogous functionality for static methods using DynamicStaticMethodReturnTypeExtension interface and service tag.

Known issues

  • If include or require are used in the analysed code (instead of include_once or require_once), PHPStan will throw Cannot redeclare class error. Use the _once variants to avoid this error.
  • If PHPStan crashes without outputting any error, it's quite possible that it's because of a low memory limit set on your system. Run PHPStan again to read a couple of hints what you can do to prevent the crashes.
  • If you install PHPStan globally on your system, you can experience errors resulting from using different versions of dependencies than PHPStan uses. For example if PHPStan's version of Symfony Console has a method with different arguments than your version of Symfony Console and you use this method in the analysed code, PHPStan can mark that as error. This will be solved in the future by prefixing the namespaces of PHPStan's dependencies.

Code of Conduct

This project adheres to a Contributor Code of Conduct. By participating in this project and its community, you are expected to uphold this code.