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PHP_CodeSniffer is a set of two PHP scripts; the main phpcs script that tokenizes PHP, JavaScript and CSS files to detect violations of a defined coding standard, and a second phpcbf script to automatically correct coding standard violations. PHP_CodeSniffer is an essential development tool that ensures your code remains clean and consistent.

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PHP_CodeSniffer requires PHP version 5.4.0 or greater, although individual sniffs may have additional requirements such as external applications and scripts. See the Configuration Options manual page for a list of these requirements.

If you're using PHP_CodeSniffer as part of a team, or you're running it on a CI server, you may want to configure your project's settings using a configuration file.


The easiest way to get started with PHP_CodeSniffer is to download the Phar files for each of the commands:

# Download using curl
curl -OL
curl -OL

# Or download using wget

# Then test the downloaded PHARs
php phpcs.phar -h
php phpcbf.phar -h


If you use Composer, you can install PHP_CodeSniffer system-wide with the following command:

composer global require "squizlabs/php_codesniffer=*"

Make sure you have the composer bin dir in your PATH. The default value is ~/.composer/vendor/bin/, but you can check the value that you need to use by running composer global config bin-dir --absolute.

Or alternatively, include a dependency for squizlabs/php_codesniffer in your composer.json file. For example:

    "require-dev": {
        "squizlabs/php_codesniffer": "3.*"

You will then be able to run PHP_CodeSniffer from the vendor bin directory:

./vendor/bin/phpcs -h
./vendor/bin/phpcbf -h


If you use Phive, you can install PHP_CodeSniffer as a project tool using the following commands:

phive install phpcs
phive install phpcbf

You will then be able to run PHP_CodeSniffer from the tools directory:

./tools/phpcs -h
./tools/phpcbf -h


If you use PEAR, you can install PHP_CodeSniffer using the PEAR installer. This will make the phpcs and phpcbf commands immediately available for use. To install PHP_CodeSniffer using the PEAR installer, first ensure you have installed PEAR and then run the following command:

pear install PHP_CodeSniffer

Git Clone

You can also download the PHP_CodeSniffer source and run the phpcs and phpcbf commands directly from the Git clone:

git clone
cd PHP_CodeSniffer
php bin/phpcs -h
php bin/phpcbf -h

Getting Started

The default coding standard used by PHP_CodeSniffer is the PEAR coding standard. To check a file against the PEAR coding standard, simply specify the file's location:

phpcs /path/to/code/myfile.php

Or if you wish to check an entire directory you can specify the directory location instead of a file.

phpcs /path/to/code-directory

If you wish to check your code against the PSR-12 coding standard, use the --standard command line argument:

phpcs --standard=PSR12 /path/to/code-directory

If PHP_CodeSniffer finds any coding standard errors, a report will be shown after running the command.

Full usage information and example reports are available on the usage page.


The documentation for PHP_CodeSniffer is available on the Github wiki.


Bug reports and feature requests can be submitted on the Github Issue Tracker.


See for information.


PHP_CodeSniffer uses a MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH version number format.

The MAJOR version is incremented when:

  • backwards-incompatible changes are made to how the phpcs or phpcbf commands are used, or
  • backwards-incompatible changes are made to the ruleset.xml format, or
  • backwards-incompatible changes are made to the API used by sniff developers, or
  • custom PHP_CodeSniffer token types are removed, or
  • existing sniffs are removed from PHP_CodeSniffer entirely

The MINOR version is incremented when:

  • new backwards-compatible features are added to the phpcs and phpcbf commands, or
  • backwards-compatible changes are made to the ruleset.xml format, or
  • backwards-compatible changes are made to the API used by sniff developers, or
  • new sniffs are added to an included standard, or
  • existing sniffs are removed from an included standard

NOTE: Backwards-compatible changes to the API used by sniff developers will allow an existing sniff to continue running without producing fatal errors but may not result in the sniff reporting the same errors as it did previously without changes being required.

The PATCH version is incremented when:

  • backwards-compatible bug fixes are made

NOTE: As PHP_CodeSniffer exists to report and fix issues, most bugs are the result of coding standard errors being incorrectly reported or coding standard errors not being reported when they should be. This means that the messages produced by PHP_CodeSniffer, and the fixes it makes, are likely to be different between PATCH versions.