CakePHP Folder Structure

After you’ve downloaded and extracted CakePHP, these are the files and folders you should see:

  • app

  • lib

  • vendors

  • plugins

  • .htaccess

  • index.php


You’ll notice three main folders:

  • The app folder will be where you work your magic: it’s where your application’s files will be placed.

  • The lib folder is where we’ve worked our magic. Make a personal commitment not to edit files in this folder. We can’t help you if you’ve modified the core. Instead, look into modifying Application Extensions.

  • Finally, the vendors folder is where you’ll place third-party PHP libraries you need to use with your CakePHP applications.

The App Folder

CakePHP’s app folder is where you will do most of your application development. Let’s look a little closer at the folders inside app.


Holds the (few) configuration files CakePHP uses. Database connection details, bootstrapping, core configuration files and more should be stored here.


Contains the console commands and console tasks for your application. This directory can also contain a Templates directory to customize the output of bake. For more information see Shells, Tasks & Console Tools.


Contains your application’s controllers and their components.


Contains libraries that do not come from 3rd parties or external vendors. This allows you to separate your organization’s internal libraries from vendor libraries.


Stores string files for internationalization.


Contains your application’s models, behaviors, and datasources.


Contains plugin packages.


This directory contains all the test cases and test fixtures for your application. The Test/Case directory should mirror your application and contain one or more test cases per class in your application. For more information on test cases and test fixtures, refer to the Testing documentation.


This is where CakePHP stores temporary data. The actual data it stores depends on how you have CakePHP configured, but this folder is usually used to store model descriptions, logs, and sometimes session information.

Make sure that this folder exists and is writable, or the performance of your application will be severely impacted. In debug mode, CakePHP will warn you if the folder is absent or not writable.


Any third-party classes or libraries should be placed here. Doing so makes them easy to access using the App::import(‘vendor’, ‘name’) function. Keen observers will note that this seems redundant, as there is also a vendors folder at the top level of our directory structure. We’ll get into the differences between the two when we discuss managing multiple applications and more complex system setups.


Presentational files are placed here: elements, error pages, helpers, layouts, and view files.


In a production setup, this folder should serve as the document root for your application. Folders here also serve as holding places for CSS stylesheets, images, and JavaScript files.