While conventions remove the need to configure all of CakePHP, you’ll still need to configure a few things like your database credentials.

Additionally, there are optional configuration options that allow you to swap out default values & implementations with ones tailored to your application.

Configuring your Application

Configuration is generally stored in either PHP or INI files, and loaded during the application bootstrap. CakePHP comes with one configuration file by default, but if required you can add additional configuration files and load them in your application’s bootstrap code. Cake\Core\Configure is used for global configuration, and classes like Cache provide setConfig() methods to make configuration simple and transparent.

The application skeleton features a config/app.php file which should contain configuration that doesn’t vary across the various environments your application is deployed in. The config/app_local.php file should contain the configuration data that varies between environments and should be managed by configuration management, or your deployment tooling. Both of these files reference environment variables through the env() function that enables configuration values to set though the server environment.

Loading Additional Configuration Files

If your application has many configuration options it can be helpful to split configuration into multiple files. After creating each of the files in your config/ directory you can load them in bootstrap.php:

use Cake\Core\Configure;
use Cake\Core\Configure\Engine\PhpConfig;

Configure::setConfig('default', new PhpConfig());
Configure::load('app', 'default', false);
Configure::load('other_config', 'default');

Environment Variables

Many modern cloud providers, like Heroku, let you define environment variables for configuration data. You can configure your CakePHP through environment variables in the 12factor app style. Environment variables allow your application to require less state making your application easier to manage when it is deployed across a number of environments.

As you can see in your app.php, the env() function is used to read configuration from the environment, and build the application configuration. CakePHP uses DSN strings for databases, logs, email transports and cache configurations allowing you to easily vary these libraries in each environment.

For local development, CakePHP leverages dotenv to make local development automatically reload environment variables. Use composer to require this library and then there is a block of code in bootstrap.php that needs to be uncommented to harness it.

You will see a config/.env.example in your application. By copying this file into config/.env and customizing the values you can configure your application.

You should avoid committing the config/.env file to your repository and instead use the config/.env.example as a template with placeholder values so everyone on your team knows what environment variables are in use and what should go in each one.

Once your environment variables have been set, you can use env() to read data from the environment:

$debug = env('APP_DEBUG', false);

The second value passed to the env function is the default value. This value will be used if no environment variable exists for the given key.

General Configuration

Below is a description of the variables and how they affect your CakePHP application.


Changes CakePHP debugging output. false = Production mode. No error messages, errors, or warnings shown. true = Errors and warnings shown.


The namespace to find app classes under.


When changing the namespace in your configuration, you will also need to update your composer.json file to use this namespace as well. Additionally, create a new autoloader by running php composer.phar dumpautoload.


Un-comment this definition if you don’t plan to use Apache’s mod_rewrite with CakePHP. Don’t forget to remove your .htaccess files too.


The base directory the app resides in. If false this will be auto detected. If not false, ensure your string starts with a / and does NOT end with a /. For example, /basedir is a valid App.base.


Define what encoding your application uses. This encoding is used to generate the charset in the layout, and encode entities. It should match the encoding values specified for your database.


The webroot directory.


The file path to webroot.


The fully qualified domain name (including protocol) to your application’s root. This is used when generating absolute URLs. By default this value is generated using the $_SERVER environment. However, you should define it manually to optimize performance or if you are concerned about people manipulating the Host header. In a CLI context (from command) the fullBaseUrl cannot be read from $_SERVER, as there is no webserver involved. You do need to specify it yourself if you do need to generate URLs from a shell (for example, when sending emails).


Web path to the public images directory under webroot. If you are using a CDN you should set this value to the CDN’s location.


Web path to the public css directory under webroot. If you are using a CDN you should set this value to the CDN’s location.


Web path to the public js directory under webroot. If you are using a CDN you should set this value to the CDN’s location.


Configure paths for non class based resources. Supports the plugins, templates, locales subkeys, which allow the definition of paths for plugins, view templates and locale files respectively.


Defines whether uploaded files are being represented as objects (true), or arrays (false). This option is being treated as enabled by default. See the File Uploads section in the Request & Response Objects chapter for more information.


A random string used in hashing. This value is also used as the HMAC salt when doing symmetric encryption.


Appends a timestamp which is last modified time of the particular file at the end of asset files URLs (CSS, JavaScript, Image) when using proper helpers. Valid values:

  • (bool) false - Doesn’t do anything (default)

  • (bool) true - Appends the timestamp when debug is true

  • (string) ‘force’ - Always appends the timestamp.


Sets the asset cache time. This determines the http header Cache-Control’s max-age, and the http header’s Expire’s time for assets. This can take anything that you version of PHP’s strtotime function can take. The default is +1 day.

Using a CDN

To use a CDN for loading your static assets, change App.imageBaseUrl, App.cssBaseUrl, App.jsBaseUrl to point the CDN URI, for example: (note the trailing /).

All images, scripts and styles loaded via HtmlHelper will prepend the absolute CDN path, matching the same relative path used in the application. Please note there is a specific use case when using plugin based assets: plugins will not use the plugin’s prefix when absolute ...BaseUrl URI is used, for example By default:

  • $this->Helper->assetUrl('TestPlugin.logo.png') resolves to test_plugin/logo.png

If you set App.imageBaseUrl to

  • $this->Helper->assetUrl('TestPlugin.logo.png') resolves to

Database Configuration

See the Database Configuration for information on configuring your database connections.

Caching Configuration

See the Caching Configuration for information on configuring caching in CakePHP.

Error and Exception Handling Configuration

See the Error and Exception Configuration for information on configuring error and exception handlers.

Logging Configuration

See the Logging Configuration for information on configuring logging in CakePHP.

Email Configuration

See the Email Configuration for information on configuring email presets in CakePHP.

Session Configuration

See the Session Configuration for information on configuring session handling in CakePHP.

Routing configuration

See the Routes Configuration for more information on configuring routing and creating routes for your application.

Additional Class Paths

Additional class paths are setup through the autoloaders your application uses. When using composer to generate your autoloader, you could do the following, to provide fallback paths for controllers in your application:

"autoload": {
    "psr-4": {
        "App\\Controller\\": "/path/to/directory/with/controller/folders/",
        "App\\": "src/"

The above would setup paths for both the App and App\Controller namespace. The first key will be searched, and if that path does not contain the class/file the second key will be searched. You can also map a single namespace to multiple directories with the following:

"autoload": {
    "psr-4": {
        "App\\": ["src/", "/path/to/directory/"]

Plugin, View Template and Locale Paths

Since plugins, view templates and locales are not classes, they cannot have an autoloader configured. CakePHP provides three Configure variables to setup additional paths for these resources. In your config/app.php you can set these variables:

return [
    // More configuration
    'App' => [
        'paths' => [
            'plugins' => [
                ROOT . DS . 'plugins' . DS,
            'templates' => [
                ROOT . DS . 'templates' . DS,
                ROOT . DS . 'templates2' . DS,
            'locales' => [
                ROOT . DS . 'resources' . DS . 'locales' . DS,

Paths should end with a directory separator, or they will not work properly.

Inflection Configuration

See the Inflection Configuration docs for more information.

Configure Class

class Cake\Core\Configure

CakePHP’s Configure class can be used to store and retrieve application or runtime specific values. Be careful, this class allows you to store anything in it, then use it in any other part of your code: a sure temptation to break the MVC pattern CakePHP was designed for. The main goal of Configure class is to keep centralized variables that can be shared between many objects. Remember to try to live by “convention over configuration” and you won’t end up breaking the MVC structure CakePHP provides.

Writing Configuration data

static Cake\Core\Configure::write($key, $value)

Use write() to store data in the application’s configuration:

Configure::write('', 'Pizza, Inc.');
Configure::write('Company.slogan', 'Pizza for your body and soul');


The dot notation used in the $key parameter can be used to organize your configuration settings into logical groups.

The above example could also be written in a single call:

Configure::write('Company', [
    'name' => 'Pizza, Inc.',
    'slogan' => 'Pizza for your body and soul'

You can use Configure::write('debug', $bool) to switch between debug and production modes on the fly.


Any configuration changes done using Configure::write() are in memory and will not persist across requests.

Reading Configuration Data

static Cake\Core\Configure::read($key = null, $default = null)

Used to read configuration data from the application. If a key is supplied, the data is returned. Using our examples from write() above, we can read that data back:

// Returns 'Pizza Inc.'

// Returns 'Pizza for your body and soul'

// Returns:
['name' => 'Pizza, Inc.', 'slogan' => 'Pizza for your body and soul'];

// Returns 'fallback' as Company.nope is undefined.
Configure::read('Company.nope', 'fallback');

If $key is left null, all values in Configure will be returned.

static Cake\Core\Configure::readOrFail($key)

Reads configuration data just like Cake\Core\Configure::read but expects to find a key/value pair. In case the requested pair does not exist, a RuntimeException will be thrown:

Configure::readOrFail('');    // Yields: 'Pizza, Inc.'
Configure::readOrFail('Company.geolocation');  // Will throw an exception


// Yields:
['name' => 'Pizza, Inc.', 'slogan' => 'Pizza for your body and soul'];

Checking to see if Configuration Data is Defined

static Cake\Core\Configure::check($key)

Used to check if a key/path exists and has non-null value:

$exists = Configure::check('');

Deleting Configuration Data

static Cake\Core\Configure::delete($key)

Used to delete information from the application’s configuration:


Reading & Deleting Configuration Data

static Cake\Core\Configure::consume($key)

Read and delete a key from Configure. This is useful when you want to combine reading and deleting values in a single operation.

static Cake\Core\Configure::consumeOrFail($key)

Consumes configuration data just like Cake\Core\Configure::consume but expects to find a key/value pair. In case the requested pair does not exist, a RuntimeException will be thrown:

Configure::consumeOrFail('');    // Yields: 'Pizza, Inc.'
Configure::consumeOrFail('Company.geolocation');  // Will throw an exception


// Yields:
['name' => 'Pizza, Inc.', 'slogan' => 'Pizza for your body and soul'];

Reading and writing configuration files

static Cake\Core\Configure::setConfig($name, $engine)

CakePHP comes with two built-in configuration file engines. Cake\Core\Configure\Engine\PhpConfig is able to read PHP config files, in the same format that Configure has historically read. Cake\Core\Configure\Engine\IniConfig is able to read ini config files. See the PHP documentation for more information on the specifics of ini files. To use a core config engine, you’ll need to attach it to Configure using Configure::config():

use Cake\Core\Configure\Engine\PhpConfig;

// Read config files from config
Configure::config('default', new PhpConfig());

// Read config files from another path.
Configure::config('default', new PhpConfig('/path/to/your/config/files/'));

You can have multiple engines attached to Configure, each reading different kinds or sources of configuration files. You can interact with attached engines using a few other methods on Configure. To check which engine aliases are attached you can use Configure::configured():

// Get the array of aliases for attached engines.

// Check if a specific engine is attached
static Cake\Core\Configure::drop($name)

You can also remove attached engines. Configure::drop('default') would remove the default engine alias. Any future attempts to load configuration files with that engine would fail:


Loading Configuration Files

static Cake\Core\Configure::load($key, $config = 'default', $merge = true)

Once you’ve attached a config engine to Configure you can load configuration files:

// Load my_file.php using the 'default' engine object.
Configure::load('my_file', 'default');

Loaded configuration files merge their data with the existing runtime configuration in Configure. This allows you to overwrite and add new values into the existing runtime configuration. By setting $merge to true, values will not ever overwrite the existing configuration.


When merging configuration files with $merge = true, dot notation in keys is not expanded:

// config1.php
'Key1' => [
    'Key2' => [
        'Key3' => ['NestedKey1' => 'Value'],

// config2.php
'Key1.Key2' => [
    'Key3' => ['NestedKey2' => 'Value2'],

Configure::load('config1', 'default');
Configure::load('config2', 'default', true);

// Now Key1.Key2.Key3 has the value ['NestedKey2' => 'Value2']
// instead of ['NestedKey1' => 'Value', 'NestedKey2' => 'Value2']

Creating or Modifying Configuration Files

static Cake\Core\Configure::dump($key, $config = 'default', $keys = [])

Dumps all or some of the data in Configure into a file or storage system supported by a config engine. The serialization format is decided by the config engine attached as $config. For example, if the ‘default’ engine is a Cake\Core\Configure\Engine\PhpConfig, the generated file will be a PHP configuration file loadable by the Cake\Core\Configure\Engine\PhpConfig

Given that the ‘default’ engine is an instance of PhpConfig. Save all data in Configure to the file my_config.php:

Configure::dump('my_config', 'default');

Save only the error handling configuration:

Configure::dump('error', 'default', ['Error', 'Exception']);

Configure::dump() can be used to either modify or overwrite configuration files that are readable with Configure::load()

Storing Runtime Configuration

static Cake\Core\Configure::store($name, $cacheConfig = 'default', $data = null)

You can also store runtime configuration values for use in a future request. Since configure only remembers values for the current request, you will need to store any modified configuration information if you want to use it in subsequent requests:

// Store the current configuration in the 'user_1234' key in the 'default' cache.
Configure::store('user_1234', 'default');

Stored configuration data is persisted in the named cache configuration. See the Caching documentation for more information on caching.

Restoring Runtime Configuration

static Cake\Core\Configure::restore($name, $cacheConfig = 'default')

Once you’ve stored runtime configuration, you’ll probably need to restore it so you can access it again. Configure::restore() does exactly that:

// Restore runtime configuration from the cache.
Configure::restore('user_1234', 'default');

When restoring configuration information it’s important to restore it with the same key, and cache configuration as was used to store it. Restored information is merged on top of the existing runtime configuration.

Configuration Engines

CakePHP provides the ability to load configuration files from a number of different sources, and features a pluggable system for creating your own configuration engines. The built in configuration engines are:

By default your application will use PhpConfig.