If you want to create a new page for developers, you should create it on the Moodle Developer Resource site.

Setting up VSCode

From MoodleDocs

VSCode is a an Integrated Development Environment from Microsoft available under the MIT License. It works on Linux/Windows/OSX. It has a large number of plugins available, most entirely free/libre. It has good support for Xdebug.


PHP Debug adds debugging capability for PHP files, which is essential. Follow the extension's installation instructions.

If the root of the project is not the same as where the Moodle code is located, the settings.json file for xdebug can be set to point to that location via pathMappings as in this example.

   "configurations": [
            "name": "Listen for Xdebug",
            "type": "php",
            "request": "launch",
            "port": 9003,
            "pathMappings": {
                "/var/www/html": "${workspaceFolder}/moodle"

It allows the setting of breakpoints where the contents of variables can be inspected. Breakpoints can be conditional, e.g. break execution of a loop when a variable reaches a certain value.

Is xdebug loaded?

There are a lot of web resources on how to configure xdebug with PHP, but a simple first step is to confirm that it appears in the page and check settings are as you expect. For example look which copy php.ini is being loaded.


Out-of-the box VSCode does not provide intellisense for PHP.

Recommended extensions are: either PHP Intelephense or PHP (Devsense) (do not enable both of them at once as they will duplicate results).

Example configuration for the PHP (Devsense):

    "php.executablePath": "/usr/bin/php",
    "php.problems.exclude": {
        "/" : [6601, 419]
    "phpunit.phpunit": "./vendor/bin/phpunit",

MDLCode Wizards

The MDLCode plugin is specifically for Moodle development and includes a suite of wizards to ease the creation of common chunks of Moodle code. It will also show if strings in a language file are unused.


Linting plugins will show wavy red lines under code that does not conform:

phpcs sniff.png

The linters used for development are:


1. Install PHP CS (codesniffer). Under Ubuntu/Linux this may be done as

sudo apt-get install -y php-codesniffer

See For more details on installing

2. After installing PHP Sniffer, add the following setting to define standard PHP CS (if you haven't set it as default in your system):

"phpSniffer.standard": "moodle",

Install the Moodle coding standard with composer as follows

composer global require moodlehq/moodle-cs

Tell phpcs to use the standard

phpcs --config-set installed_paths ~/.config/composer/vendor/moodlehq/moodle-cs

Confirm that configuration has worked by issuing the command

phpcs -i

You should see the text "The installed coding standards are ...." and one of them should be moodle

Code Formatting

If you have PHP Sniffer installed, with PHP CS configured too, set it to be the default formatter:

// add this [php] key/value pair in vscode's user settings (settings.json):
  // ...
  "[php]": {
    "editor.defaultFormatter": "wongjn.php-sniffer"

Behat/Gherkin/Cucumber Formatting

Following extensions will help with Behat .feature files (which use the cucumber language)

Colour syntax highlighting

Beautification (indentation)

Automated testing

PHP (Devsense) mentioned above can be set up to run unittests from within VSCode.

Alternatively you can use Yet Another PHPUnit .

It inserts a link just above the class name that says 'Run class tests' which will run all the tests in a class and links above each function that says Run test that will run just that test.

yet another phpunit.png

JSDoc will create JSDoc blocks by typing /** at the top of the function. Select the Autogenerated JSdoc option and it will create a template for the description, parameter and return types.


PHP DocBlocker to create a docblock by typing /** at the top of a function and it grabs the parameters, including types if given and creates a PHPDoc block.


VSCode provides Intellisense for Javascript and allows to navigate between ES6 modules. To make it resolve paths inside Moodle you need to create jsconfig.json file and place it in Moodle root. You can run

grunt jsconfig

to generate jsconfig.json. See also Grunt documentation.

Moodle specific Snippets and autocomplete

Moodle - Snippets & Autocomplete offers some useful Moodle specific code completion popups.

Auto trim trailing white space

To ensure trailing white space is trimmed do the following

Open VS User Settings (Preferences > Settings > User Settings tab). Click the {} icon in the top-right part of the window. This will open a document.

Add a new

"files.trimTrailingWhitespace": true

setting to the User Settings document if it's not already there.

This is so you aren't editing the Default Setting directly, but instead adding to it.

Save the User Settings file.

Develop over an ssh connection

With this plugin you can develop on a remote machine as if it were locally providing you have ssh login acces The configuration of file launch.json in Visual Studio Code should be integrated with hostname as follows: "configurations": [

           "name": "Listen for Xdebug",
           "request": "launch",
           "type": "php",
           "hostname": "IP address of remote server",
           "port": 9003

The file php.ini where Moodle is running should be updated: the default value of xdebug.client_host's parameter should be replaced with IP address of remote server. The default value is localhost.