Command Input/Output

class Cake\Console\ConsoleIo

CakePHP provides the ConsoleIo object to commands so that they can interactively read user input and output information to the user.

Command Helpers

Command Helpers can be accessed and used from any command, shell or task:

// Output some data as a table.

// Get a helper from a plugin.

You can also get instances of helpers and call any public methods on them:

// Get and use the Progress Helper.
$progress = $io->helper('Progress');

Creating Helpers

While CakePHP comes with a few command helpers you can create more in your application or plugins. As an example, we’ll create a simple helper to generate fancy headings. First create the src/Command/Helper/HeadingHelper.php and put the following in it:

namespace App\Command\Helper;

use Cake\Console\Helper;

class HeadingHelper extends Helper
    public function output($args)
        $args += ['', '#', 3];
        $marker = str_repeat($args[1], $args[2]);
        $this->_io->out($marker . ' ' . $args[0] . ' ' . $marker);

We can then use this new helper in one of our shell commands by calling it:

// With ### on either side
$this->helper('Heading')->output(['It works!']);

// With ~~~~ on either side
$this->helper('Heading')->output(['It works!', '~', 4]);

Helpers generally implement the output() method which takes an array of parameters. However, because Console Helpers are vanilla classes they can implement additional methods that take any form of arguments.


Helpers can also live in src/Shell/Helper for backwards compatibility.

Built-In Helpers

Table Helper

The TableHelper assists in making well formatted ASCII art tables. Using it is pretty simple:

$data = [
    ['Header 1', 'Header', 'Long Header'],
    ['short', 'Longish thing', 'short'],
    ['Longer thing', 'short', 'Longest Value'],

// Outputs
| Header 1     | Header        | Long Header   |
| short        | Longish thing | short         |
| Longer thing | short         | Longest Value |

Progress Helper

The ProgressHelper can be used in two different ways. The simple mode lets you provide a callback that is invoked until the progress is complete:

$io->helper('Progress')->output(['callback' => function ($progress) {
    // Do work here.

You can control the progress bar more by providing additional options:

  • total The total number of items in the progress bar. Defaults to 100.
  • width The width of the progress bar. Defaults to 80.
  • callback The callback that will be called in a loop to advance the progress bar.

An example of all the options in use would be:

    'total' => 10,
    'width' => 20,
    'callback' => function ($progress) {

The progress helper can also be used manually to increment and re-render the progress bar as necessary:

$progress = $io->helper('Progress');
    'total' => 10,
    'width' => 20,


Getting User Input

Cake\Console\ConsoleIo::ask($question, $choices = null, $default = null)

When building interactive console applications you’ll need to get user input. CakePHP provides an easy way to do this:

// Get arbitrary text from the user.
$color = $io->ask('What color do you like?');

// Get a choice from the user.
$selection = $io->askChoice('Red or Green?', ['R', 'G'], 'R');

Selection validation is case-insensitive.

Creating Files

Cake\Console\ConsoleIo::createFile($path, $contents)

Creating files is often important part of many console commands that help automate development and deployment. The createFile() method gives you a simple interface for creating files with interactive confirmation:

// Create a file with confirmation on overwrite
$io->createFile('bower.json', $stuff);

// Force overwriting without asking
$io->createFile('bower.json', $stuff, true);

Creating Output

Writing to stdout and stderr is another routine operation CakePHP makes easy:

// Write to stdout
$io->out('Normal message');

// Write to stderr
$io->err('Error message');

In addition to vanilla output methods, CakePHP provides wrapper methods that style output with appropriate ANSI colours:

// Green text on stdout
$io->success('Success message');

// Cyan text on stdout
$io->info('Informational text');

// Blue text on stdout
$io->comment('Additional context');

// Red text on stderr
$io->error('Error text');

// Yellow text on stderr
$io->warning('Warning text');

It also provides two convenience methods regarding the output level:

// Would only appear when verbose output is enabled (-v)
$io->verbose('Verbose message');

// Would appear at all levels.
$io->quiet('Quiet message');

You can also create blank lines or draw lines of dashes:

// Output 2 newlines

// Draw a horizontal line

Lastly, you can update the current line of text on the screen:

$io->out('Counting down');
$io->out('10', 0);
for ($i = 9; $i > 0; $i--) {
    $io->overwrite($i, 0, 2);


It is important to remember, that you cannot overwrite text once a new line has been output.

Output Levels

Console applications often need different levels of verbosity. For example, when running as a cron job, most output is un-necessary. You can use output levels to flag output appropriately. The user of the shell, can then decide what level of detail they are interested in by setting the correct flag when calling the command. There are 3 levels:

  • QUIET - Only absolutely important information should be marked for quiet output.
  • NORMAL - The default level, and normal usage.
  • VERBOSE - Mark messages that may be too noisy for everyday use, but helpful for debugging as VERBOSE.

You can mark output as follows:

// Would appear at all levels.
$io->out('Quiet message', 1, ConsoleIo::QUIET);
$io->quiet('Quiet message');

// Would not appear when quiet output is toggled.
$io->out('normal message', 1, ConsoleIo::NORMAL);
$io->out('loud message', 1, ConsoleIo::VERBOSE);
$io->verbose('Verbose output');

// Would only appear when verbose output is enabled.
$io->out('extra message', 1, ConsoleIo::VERBOSE);
$io->verbose('Verbose output');

You can control the output level of shells, by using the --quiet and --verbose options. These options are added by default, and allow you to consistently control output levels inside your CakePHP comands.

The --quiet and --verbose options also control how logging data is output to stdout/stderr. Normally info and higher log messages are output to stdout/stderr. When --verbose is used, debug logs will be output to stdout. When --quiet is used, only warning and higher log messages will be output to stderr.

Styling Output

Styling output is done by including tags - just like HTML - in your output. These tags will be replaced with the correct ansi code sequence, or stripped if you are on a console that doesn’t support ansi codes. There are several built-in styles, and you can create more. The built-in ones are

  • success Success messages. Green text.
  • error Error messages. Red text.
  • warning Warning messages. Yellow text.
  • info Informational messages. Cyan text.
  • comment Additional text. Blue text.
  • question Text that is a question, added automatically by shell.

You can create additional styles using $io->styles(). To declare a new output style you could do:

$io->styles('flashy', ['text' => 'magenta', 'blink' => true]);

This would then allow you to use a <flashy> tag in your shell output, and if ansi colours are enabled, the following would be rendered as blinking magenta text $this->out('<flashy>Whoooa</flashy> Something went wrong');. When defining styles you can use the following colours for the text and background attributes:

  • black
  • blue
  • cyan
  • green
  • magenta
  • red
  • white
  • yellow

You can also use the following options as boolean switches, setting them to a truthy value enables them.

  • blink
  • bold
  • reverse
  • underline

Adding a style makes it available on all instances of ConsoleOutput as well, so you don’t have to redeclare styles for both stdout and stderr objects.

Turning Off Colouring

Although colouring is pretty, there may be times when you want to turn it off, or force it on:


The above will put the output object into raw output mode. In raw output mode, no styling is done at all. There are three modes you can use.

  • ConsoleOutput::COLOR - Output with color escape codes in place.
  • ConsoleOutput::PLAIN - Plain text output, known style tags will be stripped from the output.
  • ConsoleOutput::RAW - Raw output, no styling or formatting will be done. This is a good mode to use if you are outputting XML or, want to debug why your styling isn’t working.

By default on *nix systems ConsoleOutput objects default to colour output. On Windows systems, plain output is the default unless the ANSICON environment variable is present.