The Boxfile

The Boxfile is a file of the same name that is stored in the root directory of a single web application’s repository. It defines attributes that control the deployment process.

WARNING The Boxfile is in YAML format. Please note that YAML does not support tabs for indenting; you have to use spaces.

Your website repository doesn’t necessarily contain a Boxfile from the start. So, if you need one or more of the features described below, simply add it.

IMPORTANT The file name is case-sensitive. Please make sure that it starts with a capital B.

Here is some example content for a Boxfile. It first defines a shared folder whose contents need to be available on all web boxes. Then, it lists a set of configuration files that are stored in the repository and need to be activated depending on the staging environment that is assigned to the website.

version: 2.0
shared_folders:
  - docroot/sites/default/files
env_specific_files:
  docroot/.htaccess:
    production: .htaccess.production
    test: .htaccess.test
  docroot/.htpasswd:
    production: .htpasswd.production
    test: .htpasswd.test
  docroot/sites/default/settings.php:
    production: settings.production.php
    test: settings.test.php

Shared folders

Shared folders are part of the application code space but need to be shared between all application servers of a cluster since they are writable by the web application.

Public shared folders are defined in a collection named shared_folders as a list of paths relative to the Git repository root:

shared_folders:
  - docroot/sites/default/files
  - docroot/sites/www.example.com/files

Environment-specific files

Environment-specific files are configuration files contained in the repository that are used only in a specific staging environment. This enables you to use a common code base both for a testing website instance and for production. You put the configuration files for both environments, for example the application’s database credentials, into the repository and define them as environment-specific. Our deployment process then chooses the right configuration file for the right environment.

In the following example, our deployment will create a symbolic link named .htaccess and has it point either to .htaccess.production or .htaccess.test, depending on which website instance the repository is deployed. The same happens for .htpasswd and sites/default/settings.php.

env_specific_files:
  docroot/.htaccess:
    production: .htaccess.production
    test: .htaccess.test
  docroot/.htpasswd:
    production: .htpasswd.production
    test: .htpasswd.test
  docroot/sites/default/settings.php:
    production: settings.production.php
    test: settings.test.php

Upgrading from older Boxfile versions

From version 1.0 to 2.0

  • Prefix public shared folder definitions with docroot/.
  • Move existing shared folders into the new docroot folder on the shared storage.

In version 1.0 of the Boxfile format, path entries were relative to the docroot directory. In version 2.0, we changed this in order to enable users to also define private files and directories outside of the application’s docroot. In 2.0, paths are relative to the Git repository root. Publicly available shared folders need to be modified so they start with docroot/.

After changing the Boxfile version of an existing website from 1.0 to 2.0, you’ll have to move the permanent storage directories that have already been created under public down one level into the newly created public/docroot directory.

For example, with version 1.0, a shared folder wp-content/uploads was created as public/wp-content. After upgrading your Boxfile to version 2.0, the folder needs to be declared as docroot/wp-content/uploads and will result in a storage directory public/docroot/wp-content. You’ll have to manually move the contents of the old directory there.


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