Installing and Updating Extensions


Unless otherwise dictated by project standards, Magento extensions should always be installed fully and committed to the respository. Symlinks or composer dependencies should not be used. This makes deployments easier and allows the store to continue working in case a dependency disappears.

Preferred extension installation methods are:

  • Modman installation (modman clone --copy
  • Magento command line installation (./mage install-file Extension.tgz)
  • Manual copy of extension files


Installed extensions must be committed to the repository as a single atomic commit. Any modifications or theme customisations should follow in separate commits.

The extension name and version should be included in the commit message. This allows for an easy audit by looking at the commit history without having to review the codebase. For example:

ISSUE-123: Install Meanbee_Royalmail v2.6.5

Extension source files, such as the .tgz file or .modman directory, should not be committed.


When upgrading extensions, follow the same installation procedure as for new extensions.

If the extension is being upgraded by manually extracting the new files, it is safer to delete the existing extension directories before copying new files. This ensures that the files removed in the new version of the extension are removed from the repository as well, instead of merging the existing set of files with the new set.

Extension upgrades must be committed to the repository as a single atomic commit and must include the extension name and the new version in the commit message. Including the old version of the extension in the commit message is optional, but can be useful for audit purposes. For example:

ISSUE-123: Update Meanbee_Royalmail to v2.6.5

Previously was v2.5.3.

If any changes are required to the extension or theme customisations in order to retain the compatibility of the extension with the store after the upgrade, they can be committed in the same commit as the upgrade itself. This is in order to preserve a working state of the extension before and after the upgrade commit. However, if the amount of customisations is extensive or is related to setting up new features, then separate follow up commits are advisable.

Committing Modifications

It is common knowledge that core and community code should not be modified directly. An extension within the local code pool should be used for such overrides.

One of the challenges when doing this is making it transparent to developers what changes have been made to the core functionality.

Duplicate and Commit

The way that we address this problem is to commit the original code once copied to your local extension before any changes are made. For example, if you are overriding a function, first copy and commit the function as-is.

Following this, you can then make the necessary modifications and commit. This process makes it much easier to understand what has changed by viewing the git history of this file.

The tool DAC speeds up the process of copying a template from the base theme to your custom theme and committing the initial version. There’s also a handy magerun plugin to get this functionality.

There are two further steps that are recommended in making your modifications as transparent as possible:

  • Add a comment to the function doc to explain what modification has been made and why. (Link to any sources for this code, e.g. stackoverflow)
  • If convenient, wrap the code change in comments to mark where modifications start and end.