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Installing Open Social with Composer

This blog post is a follow-up to our previous post about Composer and why we decided to — continue reading
Posted by Ronald te Brake
January 18, 2017

This blog post is a follow-up to our previous post about Composer and why we decided to fully embrace it for Open Social. Learn how to install and manage your Open Social sites using Composer. We will assume that you already have GIT, Drush, and Composer installed and are familiar with GIT and Drush. 

Disclaimer: You can find the full installations instructions here.

How to locally install Open Social with Composer

Before you can start your installation, you need to decide how you’d like to host your site. You can use the following templates to bootstrap your Open Social site:


You can find Open Social on Packagist. The above templates will help you download open_social and any necessary dependencies using the correct folder structure. In this example, I will use the default Open Social template which can be used for any web server. All you have to do is make sure that the webroot is configured correctly in the composer.json and the .gitignore file.

In order to start, you have to create a fork of your GoalGorilla/social_template. Have a look at the fork I’ve created of the GoalGorilla/social_template here. This contains a composer.json, which will help you manage all your dependencies, including any additional contributed modules, themes, or libraries.

How to create a fork of goalgorilla/social_template
Here’s how to create a fork of goalgorilla/social_template.


The next thing you’ll want to do is clone the fork to your local development machine, download Open Social with Composer, and install your site with Drush. The videos below explain how you can do this.

Downloading Open Social with Composer



Installing your Open Social site with Drush



Run your local web-server and test your site



Congratulations! You now have a fully working Open Social installation on your local machine!

So now what? Let’s add a Google Analytics module so we know where your traffic is coming from. Luckily, Composer makes it super easy to add this module:

composer require drupal/google_analytics

You will see the composer.json is updated and the module is downloaded automatically:


Composer.json is updated and the Google Analytics module is downloaded automatically


Your GIT status will probably look like this:


GIT status


Let’s push all of this to your GIT repository. Before you do, make sure to check the .gitignore thoroughly and make any necessary changes. It’s a best practice to not include any database settings in a GIT repository. Because of this you might want to add public_html/sites/default/settings.php to the .gitignore file. If you are satisfied, then commit and push your changes to origin.

Install on production using GIT, Composer, and Drush

Now that the repository is up-to-date we can use GIT to retrieve the files on production, use Composer to get the dependencies on production and use Drush to install the website.

It’s important that you use GIT to clone your repository in the correct directory. This is usually one directory above your webroot. For example:

  • DirectAdmin: /home/<username>/domains/<domainname> (webroot = public_html)
  • Plesk: /home/httpd/vhosts/ (webroot = httpdocs)
  • Ubuntu 14.04 or later and Apache: /var/www (webroot = HTML)


Now add ssh to the web-server and make sure you are in the correct folder and clone your application.

git clone my-url my-destination
composer install --no-dev
cd webroot
drush site-install social --db-url=mysql://root:pass@localhost:port/dbname

That’s it!

Update to the latest version of Open Social

Making sure you’re always running the latest version of Open Social is easy! Whenever there’s a new update available on just go to your local environment and run:

composer update --with-dependencies

That command will automatically update all packages and their dependencies to the latest version. It will change the composer.lock file.

cd webroot
drush cache-rebuild
drush updb
drush entup
drush -y fra --bundle=social

Make sure you test the site locally, verify that everything works, and commit and push the changes to origin repository.

Now ssh to your production web-server and update your application.

git pull origin master
composer install --no-dev
cd webroot
drush cache-rebuild
drush updb
drush entup
drush -y fra --bundle=social

You can find instructions on how to update Open Social in our Documentation Guide as well.


This blog isn’t a 100% inclusive. You could also use a core configuration management workflow, push the files to production via SFTP, set the vendor directory in the public_html folder, use Docker to install your local site, use Pantheon or to build and update the site automatically, etc.

That said, this should give you an idea about how to manage your Open Social installation with Composer. In our opinion, this comes the closest to a best practice for individual installations.

In summary:

  • GIT: use it to put your files in version control and retrieve the latest files on all environments (development, test, acceptance, production).
  • Composer: use it to manage all your dependencies, including Open Social, Drupal contributions, and their versions (composer.lock).
  • Drush: use it to install your site, enable/ disable modules, run database updates, and revert configuration via Features.

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