Getting Set Up to Run PHP with MongoDB
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Welcome to this quickstart guide for MongoDB and PHP. I know you're probably excited to get started writing code and building applications with PHP and MongoDB. We'll get there, I promise. Let's go through some necessary set-up first, however.
This guide is organized into a few sections over a few articles. This first article addresses the installation and configuration of your development environment. PHP is an integrated web development language. There are several components you typically use in conjunction with the PHP programming language. If you already have PHP installed and you simply want to get started with PHP and MongoDB, feel free to skip to .
Let's start with an overview of what we'll cover in this series.
A brief note on PHP and Apache: Because PHP is primarily a web language — that is to say that it's built to work with a web server — we will spend some time at the beginning of this article ensuring that you have PHP and the Apache web server installed and configured properly. There are alternatives, but we're going to focus on PHP and Apache.
You'll need the following installed on your computer to follow along with this tutorial:
- MacOS Catalina or later: You can run PHP on earlier versions but I'll be keeping to MacOS for this tutorial.
First, let's install the command line tools as these will be used by Homebrew:
Next, we're going to use a package manager to install things. This ensures that our dependencies will be met. I prefer
brewfor short. To begin using
brew, open your
terminal appand type:
curlto pull down the latest installation scripts and binaries for
The installation prompts are fairly straightforward. Enter your password where required to assume root privileges for the install. When it's complete, simply type the following to verify that
brewis installed correctly:
You can also verify your homebrew installation using
brew doctor. Confirm that any issues or error messages are resolved prior to moving forward. You may find warnings, and those can usually be safely ignored.
So, to be sure we're all on the same page, let's install Apache 2.4 via Homebrew and then configure it to run on the standard ports (80/443).
When I was writing this tutorial, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening with the pre-installed version. So, I think it's best if we install from scratch using Homebrew.
Now, let's install the latest version of Apache:
Once installed, let's start up the service.
You should now be able to open a web browser and visit
http://localhost:8080and see something similar to the following:
The standard Apache web server doesn't have support for PHP built in. Therefore, we need to install PHP and configure Apache to recognize and interpret PHP files.
If you've installed previous versions of PHP, I highly recommend that you clean things up by removing older versions. If you have previous projects that depend on these versions, you'll need to be careful, and back up your configurations and project files.
Homebrew is a good way for MacOS users to install PHP.
Once this completes, you can test whether it's been installed properly by issuing the following command from your command-line prompt in the terminal.
You should see something similar to this:
Now that we have
phpinstalled, we can configure Apache to use
PHPto interpret our web content, translating our
phpcommands instead of displaying the source code.
PECL (PHP Extension Community Library) is a repository for PHP Extensions, providing a directory of all known extensions and hosting facilities or the downloading and development of PHP extensions.
peclis the binary or command-line tool (installed by default with PHP) you can use to install and manage PHP extensions. We'll do that in this next section.
Install the PHP MongoDB extension before installing the PHP Library for MongoDB. It's worth noting that full MongoDB driver experience is provided by installing both the low-level extension (which integrates with our C driver) and high-level library, which is written in PHP.
You can install the extension using PECL on the command line:
To install the extension, copy the following line and place it at the end of your
After saving php.ini, restart the Apache service and to verify installation, you can use the following command.
You should see output similar to the following:
You are now ready to begin using PHP to manipulate and manage data in your MongoDB databases. Next, we'll focus on getting your MongoDB cluster prepared.
If you are experiencing issues with installing the MongoDB extension, there are some tips to help you verify that everything is properly installed and configured.
First, you can check that Apache and PHP have been successfully installed by creating an info.php file at the root of your web directory. In the file, add the following content:
Next, edit the info.php file content to:
Save, and then refresh the info.php page. You should see a page with a large table of PHP information like this:
IMPORTANT: In production servers, it’s unsafe to expose information displayed by phpinfo() on a publicly accessible page
The information that we’re interested could be in these places:
- “Configuration File (php.ini) Path” property shows where your PHP runtime is getting its php.ini file from. It can happen that the mongodb.so extension was added in the wrong php.ini file as there may be more than one.
- “Additional .ini files parsed” shows potential extra PHP configuration files that may impact your specific configuration. These files are in the directory listed by the “Scan this dir for additional .ini files” section in the table.
There’s also a whole “mongodb” table that looks like this:
Its presence indicates that the MongoDB extension has been properly loaded and is functioning. You can also see its version number to make sure that’s the one you intended to use.
If you don’t see this section, it’s likely the MongoDB extension failed to load. If that’s the case, look for the “error_log” property in the table to see where the PHP error log file is, as it may contain crucial clues. Make sure that “log_errors” is set to ON. Both are located in the “Core” PHP section.
If you are upgrading to a newer version of PHP, or have multiple versions installed, keep in mind that each version needs to have its own MongoDB extension and php.ini files.
Now that you've got your local environment set up, it's time to create a MongoDB database to work with, and to load in some sample data you can explore and modify.
It will take a couple of minutes for your cluster to be provisioned, so while you're waiting, you can move on to the next step.
Hopefully, your MongoDB cluster should have finished starting up now and has probably been running for a few minutes.
The following instructions were correct at the time of writing but may change, as we're always improving the Atlas user interface:
In the Atlas web interface, you should see a green button at the bottom-left of the screen, saying "Get Started." If you click on it, it'll bring up a checklist of steps for getting your database set up. Click on each of the items in the list (including the "Load Sample Data" item—we'll use this later to test the PHP library), and it'll help you through the steps to get set up.
If you already created your cluster and want to go back to load the sample datasets, click the ellipsis (three dots) next to your cluster connection buttons (see below image) and then select
Load Sample Dataset.
Following the "Get Started" steps, create a user with "Read and write access to any database." You can give it the username and password of your choice. Make a copy of them, because you'll need them in a minute. Use the "autogenerate secure password" button to ensure you have a long, random password which is also safe to paste into your connection string later.
When deploying an app with sensitive data, you should only whitelist the IP address of the servers which need to connect to your database. To whitelist the IP address of your development machine, select "Network Access," click the "Add IP Address" button, and then click "Add Current IP Address" and hit "Confirm."
The last step of the "Get Started" checklist is "Connect to your Cluster." Select "Connect your application" and select "PHP" with a version of "PHPLIB 1.8."
Click the "Copy" button to copy the URL to your paste buffer. Save it to the same place you stored your username and password. Note that the URL has
<password>as a placeholder for your password. You should paste your password in here, replacing the whole placeholder, including the
Now it's time to actually write some PHP code to connect to your MongoDB database! Up until now, we've only installed the supporting system components. Before we begin to connect to our database and use PHP to manipulate data, we need to install the MongoDB PHP Library.
composer, we can use Homebrew.
Once you have
composerinstalled, you can move forward to installing the MongoDB Library.
Installation of the library should take place in the root directory of your project. Composer is not a package manager in the same sense as Yum or Apt are. Composer installs packages in a directory inside your project. By default, it does not install anything globally.
Make sure you're in the same directory as you were when you used
composerabove to install the library.
<password>are the username and password you created in Atlas, and the cluster address is specific to the cluster you launched in Atlas.
Save and close your
quickstart.phpprogram and run it from the command line:
If all goes well, you should see something similar to the following:
You just connected your PHP program to MongoDB and queried a single document from the
sample_analyticsdatabase in your cluster! If you don't see this data, then you may not have successfully loaded sample data into your cluster. You may want to go back a couple of steps until running this command shows the document above.
Storing usernames and passwords in your code is never a good idea. So, let's take one more step to secure those a bit better. It's general practice to put these types of sensitive values into an environment file such as
.env. The trick, then, will be to get your PHP code to read those values in. Fortunately, came up with a great solution called
phpdotenv. To begin using Vance's solution, let's leverage
Now that we have the library installed, let's create our
.envfile which contains our sensitive values. Open your favorite editor and create a file called
.env, placing the following values in it. Be sure to replace
your user nameand
your passwordwith the actual values you created when you added a database user in Atlas.
Next, to ensure that you're not publishing your credentials into
gitor whatever source code repository you're using, be certain to add a .gitignore (or equivalent) to prevent storing this file in your repo. Here's my
.gitignoreincludes files that are leveraged as part of our libraries—these should not be stored in our project.