Use env files and variables to keep sensitive information out of your TYPO3 project

Originally posted on Liquid Light

Environment variables are a great way of keeping sensitive and contextual information out of your project and git repository. You can store private information, such as passwords and API keys out of your git repository as well as storing contextual info, such as if your TYPO3 application is in Development or Production mode.

Note: For this blog post you will need a TYPO3 instance running in Composer mode (preferably Git tracked) and will need to be familiar with TYPO3, Composer and Git.

Installing the package

The main ingredient for this is the dotenv-connector from Helhum. This package works with any composer project, so knowledge gained from this blog post can be applied elsewhere.

From the root of your project, run the following command:

composer require helhum/dotenv-connector

With the package installed you now have the $_ENV array available to you within TYPO3. This reads variables from a .env file, .htaccess file and several other places.

Once installed, open up your .gitignore file and add the following:


This ensures any .env file you make won't be committed to your repository by accident. There are some Tips at the end of this post which explains some potential exceptions to that.

Creating the env file

Create a .env file next to your composer.json and run a composer dumpautoload. This discovers the .env file and makes it available in your project. Inside your file, add the following variables


# DB

Hint: The TYPO3_CONTEXT variable is immediately picked up by TYPO3 and can alter the caching and output of of your site. You can also use this as a "Feature flag" to modify your code output

Using the env variables

Within your PHP, you now have $_ENV available containing all your variables from your file. The format and usage is endless - we'll run through a couple of common scenarios


We have the database credentials stored, so we can use them instead of having them stored in typo3conf/LocalConfiguration.php.

Remove all the database related credentials from your LocalConfiguration.php. Next, open (or create) a public/typo3conf/AdditionalConfiguration.php file - in here we can use our $_ENV variables:

$TYPO3_CONF_VARS['DB']['Connections']['Default']['host'] = $_ENV['TYPO3_DB_HOST'] ?: 'localhost';
$TYPO3_CONF_VARS['DB']['Connections']['Default']['port'] = $_ENV['TYPO3_DB_PORT'] ?: 3306;

$TYPO3_CONF_VARS['DB']['Connections']['Default']['dbname'] = $_ENV['TYPO3_DB_NAME'];
$TYPO3_CONF_VARS['DB']['Connections']['Default']['user'] = $_ENV['TYPO3_DB_USER'];
$TYPO3_CONF_VARS['DB']['Connections']['Default']['password'] = $_ENV['TYPO3_DB_PASSWORD'];


When TYPO3 is in Development mode, we may wish to display more information in the Backend.

We can do this by using the TYPO3 Environment class to get the context

if(!\TYPO3\CMS\Core\Core\Environment::getContext()->isProduction()) {
    $TYPO3_CONF_VARS['BE']['debug'] = 1;


As mentioned, you can use more than one .env file to achieve layering. The package we installed has the capacity to implement .env.local and other files, for example.

If you wish to use this feature, the following needs to be added to your composer.json:

    "extra": {
        "helhum/dotenv-connector": {
            "adapter": "Helhum\\DotEnvConnector\\Adapter\\SymfonyLoadEnv"

This then uses the Symphony-style loading for .env files.

A couple of use-cases might be:

  • If all the sites on one server share the same db user and host, instead of repeating the information you can have them share a file. Create a central .env file on the server and symlink it into each project (symlinking is beyond the scope of this blog post, but the are plenty of good tutorials online). You can then create a .env.local to specify the Database name
  • If you have a set of base/fallback credentials everyone can use for development, you could commit your .env file with them included. Live servers could then feature files to override these values

The possibilites with .env files is endless - I hope this post has helped you understand how you can use them in TYPO3.

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Mike Street

Written by Mike Street

Mike is a CTO and Lead Developer from Brighton, UK. He spends his time writing, cycling and coding. You can find Mike on Mastodon.