Best practices of Shopware plugin development

Developing a Shopware plugin is quite easy: Create some directories and a Bootstrap.php file, register some events, add some templates - done. Of course it's not always that easy in reality. A naive approach and not thinking about the structure of the plugin too much will lead to bad maintainability and testability and make your work a lot harder. Especially in bigger projects, you need to make sure that the quality of the plugins allows changing requirements, adding new features in later steps of the project or even a change of developers.

This article will summarize some best practices regarding plugin development that I found to be helpful in the daily plugin business. I will not pretend that these tips and experiences are true for every project and every developer: but I think they should be helpful, if you are wondering which way to go.

Cleaning up the Bootstrap.php

The Bootstrap.php file, as the main entry point of every plugin, tends to be bloated in many plugins I've seen. There isn't actually a good reason for this. The fact that there is a Bootstrap.php doesn't mean that you have to put all your plugin's logic into it.

Install / update

Over time, the install and update methods might become quite bloated. For this reason, I recommend to have e.g. a Bootstrap\Form, a Bootstrap\Database and a Bootstrap\Emotion class, that have a install and update method you call correspondingly.

You will find more information about how to create those classes in the Services section of this document. Long story short: move your install / update logic to helper classes, if things become too bloated.

Event registration and callbacks

Using the subscribeEvent method is a quick way to subscribe to an event. As the callbacks are usually defined in the Bootstrap.php file, those event subscribers tend to bloat the Bootstrap file. For that reason, the subscribeEvent method is the recommended way to register events for Shopware beginners - once you are more familiar with Shopware, you can make use of Subscribers. Subscribers are basically custom classes which register to Shopware events. This way, the Bootstrap doesn't know about the events, which can, in turn, be encapsulated in corresponding classes. Let's have a quick look:

class Shopware_Plugins_Frontend_MyPlugin_Bootstrap extends Shopware_Components_Plugin_Bootstrap
    public function install()
        $this->subscribeEvent('Enlight_Controller_Front_StartDispatch', 'onRegisterSubscriber');
        $this->subscribeEvent('Shopware_Console_Add_Command', 'onRegisterSubscriber');

        return true;

In the install method of the plugin I register to an early Shopware event called Enlight_Controller_Front_StartDispatch. So I will still need this one event to bring my subscribers into play - but afterwards, most other events can be registered using subscribers.

The event callback onRegisterSubscriber usually looks like this in my plugins:

public function onRegisterSubscriber(Enlight_Event_EventArgs $args)
    // setting everything up

    $subscribers = array(
        new \Shopware\MyPlugin\Subscriber\ControllerPath(),
        new \Shopware\MyPlugin\Subscriber\Container(),
        // as many subscribers as you like…

    foreach ($subscribers as $subscriber) {

In the event callback there are mainly two things to be done:

  • registering template dirs, namespace, models etc - so everything you might need later on
  • create instances of the subscriber classes and pass them to the event managers addSubscriber method

What do the subscribers now look like? The ControllerPath subscriber gives a good example:

namespace Shopware\MyPlugin\Subscriber;

class ControllerPath implements \Enlight\Event\SubscriberInterface
    public static function getSubscribedEvents()
        return array(
            'Enlight_Controller_Dispatcher_ControllerPath_Frontend_MyPlugin' => 'onGetControllerPromotionFrontend',
            'Enlight_Controller_Dispatcher_ControllerPath_Api_Promotion' => 'getApiControllerPromotion',

    public function onGetControllerPromotionFrontend()
        return __DIR__ . '/../Controllers/Frontend/MyPlugin.php';


    public function getApiControllerPromotion(\Enlight_Event_EventArgs $args)
        return __DIR__ . '/../Controllers/Api/Promotion.php';

As you can see, getSubscribedEvents will just return an array that maps event names to callback methods within the subscriber. It is basically the same mechanism that is used in the Bootstrap.php, but it replaces subscribeEvent calls with subscriber classes.

This has two main benefits:

  • You can sort your subscribers by domain / topic: You can have subscribers for controller path registration, for checkout extension, for extension of the article backend module, etc. Thus subscribers will increase readability and maintainability of your plugin.
  • As subscribers are registered during runtime, there is no need to reinstall the plugin after you added a new event or subscriber to your plugin. This makes development easier and faster.

By the way: not only events can be handled in this way: hooks can also be registered using subscribers. In order to get started with subscribers, I highly recommend the Shopware plugin code generator.

Be aware that the Enlight_Controller_Front_StartDispatch event, which we used to initialize the subscribers, will not be triggered when Shopware is used in command line mode. In this case you might need another base event.


Subscribers are not the solution to another problem you'll find in many plugins: Too much logic in the event callbacks. Events / event callbacks / subscribers do link the Shopware logic with your plugin's logic - they are not actually a part of the business logic. Let's look at a simple example: Imagine you want to block users from logging in using some custom logic. A quick way to do it could be this one:

public function install()
    $this->subscribeEvent('Shopware_Modules_Admin_Login_FilterResult', 'filterUserLogin');
    return true;

public function filterUserLogin(\Enlight_Event_EventArgs $args)
    $email = $args->get('email');
    $originalResult = $args->getReturn();

    $id = Shopware()->Db()->fetchOne('SELECT id FROM s_user WHERE email = ?', [$email]);
    $openOrders = Shopware()->Db()->fetchOne('SELECT SUM(invoice_amount) as total, COUNT(id) FROM s_order WHERE cleared = 17 AND userID = ?', [$id]);

    if (count($openOrders) > 3 || $openOrders['total'] > 100) {
        $originalResult[0][] = 'You cannot have more then three open orders or more then an open total of 100€. PAY YOUR BILL, MAN!';
        return $originalResult;

As you can see, this is not a long callback - but it has quite some logic in it, if you think about it:

  • How to find a user by email - actually there is even an error in here, as a user might have multiple account with the same email address using guest accounts
  • What is our criteria for blocking? The open orders (cleared=17) and open order total
  • What is the amount for blocking? More then three open orders OR a total bigger then 100€.

From my perspective, one could easily make two services from it, depending on how you actually model your classes. Many developers are not aware of how easily a service can be created in Shopware, so let's have a look at this:

In the subscriber example above, a function registerNamespaces was called. This might look like this:

public function registerNamespaces()

It will register the namespace Shopware\Plugins\MyPlugin to the current plugin directory. Instead of calling this from the onStartDispatch callback, you can also call it in the afterInit method of your plugin. Either way: once you have this call in place, creating a service is really easy:

namespace Shopware\Plugins\MyPlugin;

class MyService
    public function say($what)
       echo $what;

This class can be easily instantiated from everywhere in your plugin:

$myService = new Shopware\Plugins\MyPlugin\MyService();

Please notice, that Shopware()->Db() isn't recommended for services. Either inject it into your service - or inject the DBAL connection into your service - this is a handy PDO wrapper from the doctrine project (see DBAL connection).

Dependency Injection

If your plugin has more complex services with many dependencies, you should to put them in the dependency injection container (DIC). This container will take care of resolving the dependencies and will, by default, create only one instance of your service, even if it is requested multiple times.

Currently new services need to be added to the DI container using events - but it is quite easy, if you use subscribers:

namespace Shopware\Plugins\MyPlugin\Subscriber;

class Container implements \Enlight\Event\SubscriberInterface
    public static function getSubscribedEvents()
        return array(
            'Enlight_Bootstrap_InitResource_myplugin.my_service' => 'onCreateMyService',
            'Enlight_Bootstrap_InitResource_myplugin.my_other_service' => 'onCreateMyOtherService'

    public function onCreateMyService()
        return new \Shopware\Plugins\MyPlugin\MyService(

    public function onCreateMyOtherService()
        return new \Shopware\Plugins\MyPlugin\MyOtherService(

This will register two services, myplugin.my_service and myplugin.my_other_service in the DIC. Please be aware that this is done lazy, so the services will only be created if and when they are actually requested. A service is registered using the Enlight_Bootstrap_InitResource_ event and append the service name to it. I suggest the convention dev prefix + plugin name + "." + service name. This will make sure that your service is unique in the DIC.

Ok, let's see what happens if a service is called in e.g. a controller:

class Shopware_Controllers_Frontend_MyController extends \Enlight_Controller_Action
    public function indexAction()

In the moment we ask the DIC for the myplugin.my_service service, it will check if that service has already been created. If this is not the case, it will try to create an instance of it and fire the Enlight_Bootstrap_InitResource_myplugin.my_service event, which we have registered to. So our onCreateMyService method will be called. In this method, we are requesting another service using Shopware()->Container()->get('myplugin.my_other_service'). So the DI container will fire the Enlight_Bootstrap_InitResource_myplugin.my_other_service event, which we also registered to, and our onCreateMyOtherService method will be executed. In this method, we request the service dbal_connection. This will be handled by the Shopware core - it has that service. Now that all the dependencies have been resolved, the DIC will create the MyOtherService instance with a dbal_connection and will then create MyService instance with the MyOtherService in it.

The next time someone requests the my_service using $this->get('myplugin.my_service'), the DI container will just return the already created instance.

I highly recommend this pattern, keeping in mind the following basic rules:

  • class creation may only happen in the container subscriber
  • no service is allowed to call the Shopware() singleton - all dependencies must be injected using the __construct method.

Of course there might be exceptions - but I found it useful to try to avoid any call to the Shopware() singleton in my service components. It is fine for subscribers - but should be avoided elsewhere.

If the creation of services using events still feels a bit cumbersome, please try the LazySubscriber which can be found in my Github repo. It allows you to define dependencies like this:

namespace YourPlugin\Subscriber;

class ContainerSubscriber extends LazySubscriber
    public function define()
        return [
            'my_plugin.cart' => function() {
                return new Cart();
            'my_plugin.persister' => function(DIC $c) {
                return new Persister($c->get('connection'));

Please keep in mind, that this is an unofficial extension - there might be issues and rough edges.

Using composer

By default plugins do not support composer - the main reason for this is the fact that installing composer dependencies during runtime on the customer's system is quite error prone. But this shouldn't stop you from using composer for your development and for updating dependencies easily.

Having a composer.json in the top level of your plugin will allow you to install the dependencies from composer and also to use the composer autoloader:

    "require": {
        "some/dependency": "^4.0",
        "another/dependency": "^4.0"
    "require-dev": {
        "php5-sqlite": "*"
    "autoload": {
        "psr-4": {
            "Shopware\\Plugins\\MyPlugin\\": "src/"

After a composer install or composer dump-autoload you can simply require the autoload.php in your plugin bootstrap:

public function registerMyComponents()
    require_once $this->Path() . '/vendor/autoload.php';

This will not only make the required PHP packages available in the autoloader - it will also make your plugin's namespace available. Please notice that we highly discourage using require* and include* otherwise - but for this particular usecase it's quite helpful.


Unit testing plugins is not as hard as many developers seem to believe. The Shopware plugin code generator will automatically create the basics for your. Generally you will will need a phpunit.xml[.dist] file that might look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<phpunit bootstrap="./tests/Bootstrap.php">
<testsuite name="MyPlugin Test Suite">

The tests/Bootstrap.php will take care to set everything up properly. It might look like this:

// setup Shopware properly, so we can access e.g. Shopware()->Db()
// the directory traversal will include the TestHelper class from Shopware's
// builtin testsuite
require "./../../../../../../tests/Shopware/TestHelper.php";

// Create an instance of the Shopware-TestHelper object, run the loader
$helper = \TestHelper::Instance();
$loader = $helper->Loader();

// If you are using subscribers, you might need to trigger the `onStartDispatch` on your own

// Depending on your tests, you might also need to set a request object
Shopware()->Front()->setRequest(new Enlight_Controller_Request_RequestHttp());,

Finally a test might look like this:


class CallculatorTest extends Shopware\Components\Test\Plugin\TestCase
    protected static $ensureLoadedPlugins = array(
        'MyPlugin' => [
            'some_config' => 'foo'

    public function testMyService()
        $service = new MyService();
        $result = $service->add(1, 1);

        $this->assertEquals(2, $result);

You can run this test by just typing phpunit from your plugin directory. If you don't have phpunit installed globally, just read the Using composer section and add phpunit as a plugin dependency by calling composer require --dev phpunit/phpunit. You will then be able to run php vendor/bin/phpunit.

The section will ensure that the MyPlugin plugin is installed and activated for the current test. You can even set the configuration of the plugin per test.

Generally you might not need to set $ensureLoadedPlugins for every test - actually the better your unit tests are, the less you will need all the Shopware stack in your tests. But don't worry about this too much. As a basic rule of thumb for "getting started with unit tests" I would suggest that, if you want to make sure that the class you just wrote works, do not try it by testing the functionality in the browser: write a test for your service and make that test work.

You will find it very hard to test an event callback - it is. But for that reason, we move the logic to small classes and services. This way, we can test those instead of the Bootstrap.php or the Subscriber classes. There is a lot more too say and learn about testing - but I think the most important thing is to get started with it and write code that is testable. This is not only good for testability - but also for the code quality.


Some time ago, we started to move all the meta data from the plugin's Boostrap.php to a file called plugin.json. An example can be found in the Paypal plugin on github.

I find it very convenient to use this file - it will give you a good overview regarding Shopware version compatibility, change logs and other relevant information. If we release our Shopware account API at some point in the future, the plugin.json format will allow you to upload plugins to the store by just entering one command in the command line. And even without it, it's just handy.

Use the code generator

I mentioned it a few times before: use the Shopware plugin code generator. At the current point it allows you to generate plugins having

  • Backend widgets
  • Backend modules
  • API endpoints
  • Frontend filter
  • Subscribers
  • CLI commands
  • Tests

The examples in the plugin generator reflect our current "state of the art" - so having a look at it is a good addition to reading this blog post.

Writing bigger plugins

In some projects, I found people having literally dozens of plugins in their system. Even though Shopware is capable of this, I found that it does not help maintainability to spread all the logic across so many plugins, especially if these plugins are specific for that very project. Using the services and subscriber mentioned above, you are completely free to have bigger plugins with a more sophisticated directory hierarchy:

├── Bootstrap.php
├── Models
│   └── MyPlugin
│       ├── StockManagement
│       │   ├── Location.php
│       │   └── StockManagement.php
│       └── Voucher
│           ├── VoucherCode.php
│           └── Voucher.php
├── Services
│   ├── StockManagement
│   │   ├── Locations.php
│   │   ├── Repository.php
│   │   └── Validator.php
│   └── Voucher
│       ├── Discount.php
│       ├── Repository.php
│       └── Validator.php
└── Subscribers
    ├── StockManagement
    │   ├── ArticleDetail.php
    │   └── Checkout.php
    └── Voucher
        ├── Checkout.php
        └── Listing.php

In this example, the plugin was split into two main domain entities: Voucher and StockManagement. The services as well as the models and subscribers do reflect this separation. Event though this might not be suitable in every case - having one plugin which creates multiple new API endpoints seems to be perfectly fine. I think it shows how too much plugin fragmentation could be avoided.

How to find extension points?

A very common request is how to know how to extend a certain behaviour. There is no definitive "all the events" overview - and I think it wouldn't help you much anyway. Usually, it's much more helpful to just have a look at the program flow: In Shopware, every request will hit a controller - generally the URL will tell you which controller is involved. As soon as a controller is involved, there are PreDispatch and PostDispatch events available. These extension points are quite generic and usually they are best point for assigning template variables or adding additional template overwrites. You can also replace any existing template variable from here. As controllers are hookable, usually there are also controller hooks available. In most cases, these will offer you the same possibilities as PreDispatch and PostDispatch events, but in some cases, they might give you access to protected and public controller methods, which are not controller actions.

In most cases, a frontend controller will then trigger a core module (sArticles, sOrder etc). As all the core modules are hookable, any protected and public methods in there are, again, extensible. In addition to that, many core methods will offer some application events, which can be identified by the notify, notifyUntil, filter and collect method calls. Again, all these are extension points.

Finally the core modules might call one or multiple services in the DI container. These might be service like shopware_storefront.list_product_service. Usually it is worth to have a look at those classes too. As soon as they have an interface defined, you will be able to decorate them.

As a rule of thumb, I suggest this priority of extension points:

  • Application events (if available)
  • Decoration (if available)
  • Global events (such as PreDispatch and PostDispatch)
  • Hooks (such as sArticle::sAddArticle::after)


Since Shopware 4.2.0 we are moving towards a more service oriented style of programming. But still you'll find many plugins and core modules using the Shopware() singleton. Technically the Shopware() singleton is not too much different from a container. In fact, both can be used to form a service registry pattern which will usually "pollute" all your code with unclear dependencies. So it doesn't make much of a difference, if you use Shopware() in a service or inject the whole DI into it - both should be avoided.

As mentioned in the dependency injection section, you should always make sure that the immediate dependencies of your service are injected using constructor or setter injection. Usually you will have one place where all the services are created - I called it ContainerSubscriber in the examples above. I consider all the Subscribers being a "bridge" between your application and the Shopware core. In the subscribers, don't bother too much about not using Shopware() or not using Shopware()->Container(). Subscribers are bound to Shopware anyway - by events, hooks, decorators, request, response and other kind of context object. Using Shopware() or Shopware()->Container() here is not a big code smell - but really take care to not have it in your service layer.


Shopware uses Doctrine a lot, the backend and the API make massive use of Doctrine ORM, the frontend uses the Doctrine DBAL query builder. Generally you have to keep in mind that an ORM adds quite some complexity to the system - and that it might have unexpected performance implications when e.g. querying many entities with n:m relations. As a rule of thumb I recommend using Doctrine ORM for backend modules - in combination with the shopware backend components it will make writing backend modules a whole lot easier - and usually the backend does not require high performance in the way the frontend does.

In the frontend, however, my recommendation is to not use Doctrine ORM too extensively, especially on performance critical pages such as listing, detail page and checkout / basket. If you don't want to end up writing plain SQL queries again, Doctrine DBAL query builder is a nice tool, which provides a fluent interface for building SQL queries.

DBAL connection

The DBAL query builder is a part of the DBAL library from doctrine. We found it very useful, as it provides a nice API to build queries and can be used e.g. to allow plugins to modify a query easily. Also you can still use plain SQL, if you need to.

The DBAL connection is available in the Shopware DI container as dbal_connection:

$queryBuilder = $container->get('dbal_connection')->createQueryBuilder();

So you can easily inject the query builder into your services. In those you could create queries like this:

    ->from('s_categories', 'category')
    ->where(' = :id')
    ->setParameter(':id', $categoryId);

$path = $this->queryBuilder->execute()->fetch(PDO::FETCH_COLUMN);

As you can see, the plain table names and columns are used here - not the doctrine models. So it can also be used for entities, which do not have doctrine models at all. So whenever you want to avoid Doctrine ORM, the DBAL connection is worth a look. We also use it e.g. for the new store front bundles a lot.


PHP arrays are quite powerful, as they can be used as lists as well as hash maps / dictionaries. This, however, is also criticised a lot, as this will lead to undocumented data structures you can neither type hint nor rely on. A typical action when dealing with arrays is: Let's print it out and see, what's in it.

Doctrine models seem to be a solution at the first look - but despite the fact that you might not want to use them in any case (see above), Doctrine models are representation of database records. This will not be true for all your objects and can lead to problems regarding persisting / flushing them accidentally.

In Shopware 5 we introduced structs - this is how we call simple value objects which are used instead of just arrays. They might look like this:

namespace Shopware\Bundle\StoreFrontBundle\Struct;

class BaseProduct extends Extendable implements \JsonSerializable
    protected $id;

    protected $variantId;

    protected $number;

    public function __construct($id, $variantId, $number)
        $this->id = $id;
        $this->variantId = $variantId;
        $this->number = $number;

    public function getId()
        return $this->id;

    public function getNumber()
        return $this->number;

    public function getVariantId()
        return $this->variantId;

This simple struct identifies a product in Shopware - by id, variantId or number. You can always rely on all values being there - and you can properly type hint it. Shopware has a struct base class \Shopware\Bundle\StoreFrontBundle\Struct\Struct - which you can extend from, if you want to.

Generally using this kind of "value object" / "struct" is considered good practice if you need to pass data structures to other methods or if classes rely on such data structures. Try to avoid arrays for this.

Plugin updates

If you maintain a plugin for longer time, the update method might become quite messy. Please remember that Shopware will give you the version number of the old plugin version as a parameter in the update method, so you can do something like this:

public function update($existingVersion)
    if (version_compare($existingVersion, '1.1.0', '<=')) {
    if (version_compare($existingVersion, '1.2.1', '<=')) {
    if (version_compare($existingVersion, '1.2.3', '<=')) {
    if (version_compare($existingVersion, '2.1.0', '<=')) {

Some developers also use fallthrough switch cases for this:

public function update($existingVersion)

    switch (true) {
        case version_compare($existingVersion, '1.1.0', '<='):
        case version_compare($existingVersion, '1.2.1', '<='):
        case version_compare($existingVersion, '1.2.3', '<='):
        case version_compare($existingVersion, '2.1.0', '<='):

The general recommendation is: You will probably not need to use the update method for every plugin version you release, as some plugin versions just have code changes. So you will probably never know which exact versions are in existence - for this reason your update logic should be written in a way, that it applies to all versions e.g. "being smaller than 2.1.0".

Also keep in mind that moving the update logic to separate classes (for big plugins, consider per-version migration files) might help keeping the Bootstrap.php file small.

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