WP CLI Commands

Table of contents

WP CLI for automation

WP Starter takes care of the file structure of the website and its configuration at filesystem level, however it does nothing, for example, for the database.

If the aim is to automate the complete bootstrap of the website, it is clear that WP Starter is not enough. WP CLI completes our requirements.

The setup of a website via WP CLI is something that can be done independently of WP Starter. For example, assuming we have a deploy / CI tool that installs Composer dependencies triggering WP Starter, the same deploy / CI tool can take care of running WP CLI commands.

WP Starter writes a wp-cli.yml pointing to the correct WP path so that commands don’t need to pass --path argument to WP CLI commands.

However, by telling WP Starter to take care of WP CLI commands, WP Starter will also take care of making sure WP CLI is available.

Installation of WP CLI

When WP Starter is configured to run WP CLI commands, before running them it makes sure WP CLI is available:

  1. first it parses all Composer-installed packages to see if WP CLI is installed via Composer
  2. if not, it checks a WP CLI phar is available on project root
  3. if not, download WP CLI phar and checks its integrity via SHA512 checksum provided by WP CLI

This means that WP CLI will always be available and WP Starter will know where to find it and in which form it comes (Composer package or phar), so it will know how and where to send commands.

In short, by letting WP Starter run WP CLI commands it is possible to:

  • not bother with WP CLI installation
  • write commands in a way that is agnostic of how and where WP CLI is available

It is worth mentioning here that there’s a configuration value install-wp-cli that can be set to false preventing WP Starter to ever attempt to download WP CLI phar.

If install-wp-cli is set to false and WP Starter does not find WP CLI, any attempt to run WP CLI commands via WP Starter will fail.

Commands configuration

Now that benefit of using WP Starter for WP CLI commands are known, let’s see how to tell WP Starter what to execute.

Evaluation of files

One of the ways supported by WP Starter to run WP CLI commands is to evaluate files via WP CLI eval-file command.

This can be done by setting an array of files in the wp-cli-files setting:

    "wp-cli-files": [

Nice thing about this approach is that paths can be any local path, including files in vendor folder installed via Composer, which means that it is possible to effectively create packages containing WP CLI-evaluated files to be shared across projects.

Those familiar with the eval-file command might observe that by only providing the file name there’s no way to control command arguments.

This can be done by passing an array of objects like this:

    "wp-cli-files": [
            "file": "./scripts/my-cli-script-1.php",
            "skip-wordpress": true,
            "args": {
                "foo": "bar",
                "bar": "baz"

Where skip-wordpress is used set the --skip-wordpress flag of eval-file command, and args key will be the arguments passed to the file (that will be placed in the $args variable for the file).

Commands array

One simple way to setup WP CLI commands to run is to just set an array of commands in the wp-cli-commands setting. For example:

    "wp-cli-commands": [
        "wp core install",
        "wp user create bob bob@example.com --porcelain --send-email"

The same array of commands can be placed in a separate JSON file, whose path is then used as the same configuration value:

    "wp-cli-commands": "./scripts/wp-cli-commands.json"

This method is quite simple to use, but not very powerful, for example it does not allow for conditional commands.

One possible solution in some cases might be to use a PHP file that does whatever it needs to do and finally returns an array of commands. For example:

    "wp-cli-commands": "./scripts/wp-cli-commands.php"

where wp-cli-commands.php could, for example, look something like this:


namespace WeCodeMore\WpStarter;

/** @var Util\Locator $locator */
global $locator;

$env = $locator->env();

// If env configuration is invalid or WP is already
// installed, there's nothing to do.
if (
    || $env->read(Util\DbChecker::WP_INSTALLED)
) {
    return [];

$commands = [];

// If DB does not exist, let's tell WP CLI to create it.
if (!$env->read(Util\DbChecker::WPDB_EXISTS)) {
    $commands[] = 'wp db create';

// Home URL is required.
$home = $env->read('WP_HOME');
if (!filter_var($home, FILTER_VALIDATE_URL)) {
    $locator->io()->writeError('Can not install WP, WP_HOME not provided.');

    return [];
$user = $env->read('PROJECT_USERNAME') ?: 'admin';
$host = parse_url($home, PHP_URL_HOST);
$email = $env->read('PROJECT_ADMIN_EMAIL') ?: "{$user}@{$host}";

// Build and add install command.
$install = "wp core install";
$install .= " --title='WP Starter Example' --url={$home}";
$install .= " --admin_user='{$user}' --admin_email='{$email}'";
$commands[] = $install;

// Add commands to set up website language if needed.
$language = $env->read('WP_LANG');
if (is_string($language) && (trim($language) !== '')) {
    $language = trim($language);
    $commands[] = "wp language core install {$language}";
    $commands[] = "wp site switch-language {$language}";

return $commands;

So the file checks status of DB and WordPress and tell WP CLI to act accordingly: do nothing if the status is unknown or WP is already installed, or otherwise install it, by also creating the database if necessary.

To check database status the file uses three “special” env vars, whose names are stored in WeCodeMore\WpStarter\Util\DbChecker class constants:

  • DbChecker::WPDB_ENV_VALID
  • DbChecker::WP_INSTALLED
  • DbChecker::WPDB_EXISTS

To know more about these variables please refers to the “Environment Variables” chapter.


In the case both wp-cli-files and wp-cli-commands settings are used, the former are executed first.

Running commands via step scripts

Another way to run WP CLI commands is to use step scripts. As described in the chapter “WP Starter Steps” step scripts are callbacks executed either before or after each step.

For example, by targeting the script post-wpstarter it is possible to add scripts that run WP CLI commands.

The way we can do that is via a “process” object that can be obtained from the Locator passed as argument to the script callback.

For example, we can put in wpstarter.json:

    "scripts": {
        "post-wpcliconfig": "Me\\MyProject\\Script::example"

and then the class Me\MyProject\Script can contain:

namespace Me\MyProject;
use WeCodeMore\WpStarter\Step\Step;
use WeCodeMore\WpStarter\Util\Locator;

class Script
    public static function example(int $result, Step $step, Locator $locator)
        // Note: when using `wpCliProcess()->execute()` don't start command with "wp"
        $locator->wpCliProcess()->execute('cli version');

For this to work Me\MyProject\Script class must be autoloadable.

The same thing can be done by creating a custom step, because the Locator (and its wpCliProcess() method) is also available for custom steps. However using custom steps or scripts make sense only if there’s a complex logic behind the command generation otherwise adding commands wp-cli-commands or wp-cli-files is definitively easier.

Next: Custom Steps Development