Bootstrap Drupal 7 for automated maintenance scripts

October 11, 2013
Development, Drupal

Why you should bootstrap Drupal 7

Drupal iconI don't always build websites with Drupal 7, but when I do they are usually large and complex applications. And large applications are typically accompanied by command line scripts to automate maintenance tasks, such as:

  • Data migration
  • Data export
  • Data backup
  • Report creation
  • Cache clearing

Yes, it is possible to build a custom Drupal module and invoke its methods with an authenticated HTTP request; but that approach requires the full web stack and is inherently bound by the web server's time limit. Instead, it is best to move Drupal maintenance tasks into separate, stand-alone PHP scripts that may be executed on the command line — manually or as scheduled cron tasks. However, each PHP script must first bootstrap Drupal 7 before it can access the Drupal 7 API.

How to bootstrap Drupal 7

Bootstrapping Drupal 7 is remarkably easy. Add this snippet of code at the top of your PHP script:

// Set the absolute path to the Drupal site's document root directory
define('DRUPAL_ROOT', '/var/www/public');

// Ensure the REMOTE_ADDR server variable is set

// Load Drupal
require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/includes/';

That's it. After you include this code in your PHP script, you can use the complete Drupal 7 API to manipulate your Drupal website from your command line PHP script. Be sure you change the DRUPAL_ROOT value so that it points to your own Drupal website's document root directory.


Luke Holmes's avatar
Luke Holmes
Thanks Josh. This worked for me.

Extra steps I had to take as a Acquia Dev Desktop users...
You also need to ensure the $databases array in /sites/default/settings.php is populated. By default devdesktop creates and uses a new settings.php file in the /sites// directory. The bootstrap process can't find the $databases array in here so fails.


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