Coding Standards are collections of best practices for writing codes, most likely you will find them in the documentation of your favorite programming language.

In WordPress (in this case a CMS, not a programming language) is no different, we can find through this link a collection of rules and best practices to develop themes and plugins.

In this article I will show you how to configure Visual Studio Code to format your code and always make it beautiful according to the WordPress Coding Standards.

Dependencies

We will need to have the following installed on your computer:

  • Visual Studio Code (obviously)
  • Aptitude packages
  • Composer

Let’s start

Step 1 – Installing the Dependencies

First, update the package manager cache by running

sudo apt update

Now, let’s install the dependencies. Everything can be installed with the following command:

sudo apt install curl php-cli php-mbstring php-xmlwriter git unzip

Step 2 – Installing Composer

To download and install Composer, just run this code:

cd ~ && curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer -o composer-setup.php && php composer-setup.php --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer && rm composer-setup.php

To test your installation, run:

composer

Step 3 – Installing PHP CodeSniffer

After installing all dependencies, let’s start the process.

First, install the required PHP CodeSniffer version according to WPCS requirements:

composer global require squizlabs/php_codesniffer:3.4.*

If you received a permission error when installing a dependency, set the composer permissions:

sudo chown -R $USER ~/.config/composer/

Now, make it globally on your $PATH:

export PATH=~/.config/composer/vendor/bin:$PATH

And finally, verify that’s working:

phpcbf --version

Step 4 – Setting up the WordPress Coding Standards

Now that we have been able to use phpcbf and phpcs, we need to configure what Coding Standard we want:

Clone the WordPress Coding Standards repository into your users folder:

cd ~ && git clone -b master https://github.com/WordPress-Coding-Standards/WordPress-Coding-Standards.git wpcs

Add the WPCS path to PHP_CodeSniffer settings

phpcbf --config-set installed_paths /path/to/wpcs

If we stop here, we’ll be able to format our code through the command line:

phpcbf --standard=WordPress --extensions=php /path/to/php/files

But what we want, is with a simple keyboard shortcut, make it happen directly from our code editor.

Step 5 – Setting up Visual Studio Code to use WPCS

To achieve this, we need to install the phpcbf extension in the Visual Studio Code (available at this link), and configure the following:

{
    "phpcbf.executablePath": "~/.config/composer/vendor/bin/phpcbf",
    "phpcbf.standard": "WordPress",
}

Now, using a Visual Studio Code shortcut (or context menu), we have already been able to meet the WordPress code pattern requirements.

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