PHP Application Structure

One of the first things you do when you create a PHP application, is to create a good directory structure.

Many people have their own way of doing things and this is good. The most important thing is that people take the time to think of a good way to do stuff.

Today I'll share mine. I'm not saying this is the best way of doing stuff, this is simply a system that worked well for me.

Here's my main listing:

  • lib/
  • conf/
  • resources/
  • index.php

As you can see, I only have 3 directories, each with a specific purpose, and I'm always using a single index.php which handles all the requests.


This is where my class libraries go. All the classes are in a PEAR-structure, this means: 1 class per file, and the file/directory maps exactly to the classname, for example:the class Services_MetaWebLog can be found in lib/Services/MetaWebLog.php

There are a few good reasons why this is a good way to structure your classes:

  • Many systems already use this structure, so if you need foreign libraries (from PEAR, Solar or whatever) you usually can just copy-paste their classes in your structure
  • It allows you to easily find certain classes
  • It allows a pretty cool __autoload() function
  • If you are using subversion, you can easily include other projects libraries with the svn:externals keyword

This is the `__autoload` function, in case you need it. It's a bit simplified, but you'll get the point.

function __autoload($classname) {
  require_once 'lib/' . str_replace('_', '/', $classname) . '.php';


This is where global application configuration goes. In my case its usually a settings.xml with for example the database DSN.

Another tip is to put you apache configuration here. You can easily create a symlink to your /etc/apache2/sites-enabled . This way you can keep your apache configuration near to your applicaton. If you use Apache1, simply do an Include to this file.


This is where I put all the static stuff (I guess static would also have been a good name). My sub-directories tend to look like this:

  • css/
  • templates/
  • images/
  • js/
  • swf/

Good luck!

Web mentions


  • Ade


    Good stuff Evert!
  • deciacco


    can you put up what your index.php file looks like?
  • pradeep pathak

    pradeep pathak

    Thanx , but we in our organisation develop non class based PHP applications so can u help me to kno whats the best structure for this kind of application.
    Ragards Pradeep
  • Evert


    The few smaller non-OOP based sites i've done.. I tend to simply have a pages directory, with php scripts for every url.

    The index.php starts an output buffer, loads those scripts and loads a template.php

    For anything bigger than a small site, my approach is usually OOP so my answer to that would simply be.. give it a shot =P

  • Ryan


    i like, thanks for sharing!
  • Puglia


    Simple but very important concept! very good, tnx
  • Ole


    Thanks for a great article. I'm new to the whole OOP and application stuff. Just done some minor stuff earlier. This setup really looks promissing, and I will without a doubt try it out that way for my own little "teach myself OOP" project.

    Btw, anyone think that a tiny framework is a good way to learn OOP?

    - Cheers
  • Snowcore


    I recommend you Zend Framework, it has a really beautiful OOP code!