Build a standalone application

Your Laravel Zero project, by default, allows you to build a standalone PHAR archive to ease the deployment or distribution of your project.

php <your-app-name> app:build <your-build-name>

The build will provide a single PHAR archive, ready to use, containing all the code of your project and its dependencies. You will then be able to execute it directly:


or on Windows:

C:\application\path> php builds\<your-build-name>

We use humbug/box to provide fast application bundling. In order to configure your build, you should take a look at the file box.json.

Please check the box documentation to understand all options:

Debug information

Failing build?

If your build is failing, it can be due to multiple things. A typical pitfall is missing ext-* dependencies in PHP (e.g. When running build in Docker container/CI)

Two commands that can be helpful to you to figure out what your problem is, are:

# -v for Verbose
php <your-app-name> app:build <your-build-name> -v

# This does the compiling, so can be used if -v isn't helping you. 
./vendor/laravel-zero/framework/bin/box compile --working-dir=/project/path --config=/project/path/box.json --debug 

Distribute via Packagist

To distribute your application via Packagist you will need to make some changes to your composer.json & box.json files.

In your composer.json file you will need to move the laravel-zero/framework dependency as well as any other custom dependencies from require to require-dev, excluding the supported PHP versions and required extensions.

You will also need to change the bin path to point to your build.

-   "require": [
-       "laravel-zero/framework": "x.x"
-   ]
+   "require-dev": [
+       "laravel-zero/framework": "x.x"
+   ]

-   "bin": ["<your-app-name>"]
+   "bin": ["builds/<your-app-name>"]

In your box.json file you should add:

"exclude-dev-files": false,

The reason for the above is that Composer will install all non-development dependencies by default, but these are already contained within the PHAR archive, thanks to the above change in box.json. By converting them to development dependencies, Composer will skip them altogether, which also ensures that they won't conflict with other globally-installed dependencies.

Now you will need to build your application again with:

php <your-app-name> app:build <your-build-name>

And you are ready to distribute your package via Packagist and install it by running

composer global require <your-app-name>

Non-interactive build

When you build you get asked about build version, in case you want to skip this step you can provide the build version as an option:

php your-app-name app:build --build-version=<your-build-version>

Self update

Using the app:install Artisan command you can install the self-update component:

php <your-app-name> app:install self-update

This component will add an Artisan self-update command to your built application. This command will try to download the latest version from GitHub, if available.

Custom update strategies

The self-updater supports custom "strategies" to configure how the application is updated. By default it uses the GithubStrategy which will try to download the PHAR binary from a builds/ directory in the GitHub source repository.

Custom strategies must implement the following StrategyInterface interface.

By default, a few strategies are provided in Laravel Zero:

  • Download the PHAR file from the builds/ directory on GitHub:
  • Download the PHAR file from GitHub releases assets:
  • Download the PHAR file from the builds/ directory on GitLab:

To use a custom strategy, first publish the config using:

php <your-app-name> vendor:publish --provider "LaravelZero\Framework\Components\Updater\Provider"

Then update the updater.strategy value in the configuration file to use the required class name.

Environment Variables

If the dotenv component is installed, you can place a .env file in the same folder as the build application to make Laravel Zero load environment variables from that same file.


To use SQLite in your standalone PHAR application, you need to tell Laravel Zero where to place the database in a production environment.

Similar to Laravel, this is configured in config/database.php under the connections.sqlite.database key. By default this is set to database_path('database.sqlite') which resolves to <project>/database/database.sqlite. Since we can't modify files within the project once the PHAR is built, we need to store this somewhere on the users computer. A good choice for this would be to create a "dot" folder inside your users home folder. For example:

// config/database.php
'connections' => [
  'sqlite' => [
      'driver' => 'sqlite',
      'url' => env('DATABASE_URL'),
-     'database' => database_path('database.sqlite'),
+     'database' => $_SERVER['HOME'] . '/.your-project-name/database.sqlite',
      'prefix' => '',
      'foreign_key_constraints' => env('DB_FOREIGN_KEYS', true),

In this case it would tell Laravel to use the database at /Users/<username>/.your-project-name/database.sqlite (for macOS).

It is important to note that this file will not exist upon installation of your app so you will either need to ensure it exists and is migrated before using the database or provide an install command which creates the database and migrates it.