Use a GitHub Branch as a Composer Dependency

My current project sees Celery (a python distributed task queue) added to my PHP application. There's a handy PHP interface to the RabbitMQ that Celery uses as a backend, which makes it easy for me to create jobs, called celery-php. This requires either the PECL AMQP extension or alternatively it has experimental support for the PHP library for AMQP - I would normally prefer the PECL version but ran into version compatibility problems, missing manual pages, and decided that a pure PHP solution might be more portable and perhaps I would just add the experimental branch to my composer.json file for this project.

The branch is called php-amqplib, and I need to do two things:

  • Add the Github repository for celery-php to the composer.json, so that it will be picked up rather than Composer looking on packagist for it.
  • Specify the version as dev-[branchname]

The result looks like this:

    "repositories": [
            "type": "git",
            "url": ""
    "require": {
        "videlalvaro/php-amqplib": "2.2.*",
        "massivescale/celery-php": "dev-php-amqplib"

11 thoughts on “Use a GitHub Branch as a Composer Dependency

  1. Would this also work if you forked a project and only wanted to pull updates from a specific github repo? (Instead of the default) I recently made a custom change to a Laravel package and would love to only get updates from my repo through composer.

  2. I've just tried this to allow branch specific versioning of a package that I make regular small changes to (meaning updating a tag seemed excessive). I tried creating a branch named 1.1 (based on the most recent tag being 1.1.12) and then just commit small changes to this. Unfortunately Composer must use a test for if the branch name is numeric and try resolving it to a tag - I got the usual (and totally useless) "Requested package could not be found" message using "dev-1.1" but after renaming the branch to "one-point-one" and the requirement to "dev-one-point-one" it works. A way round this would be useful if one existed, but it works for now.

  3. If other packages have requirements on the package you are changing, your development branch may fail to meet those requirements (which will result in "Your requirements could not be resolved to an installable set of packages."). To fix this, you can do an inline alias to that all other packages will see it as a specific version.

    If you started with:
    "massivescale/celery-php": "1.2.3"
    change it to:
    "massivescale/celery-php": "dev-php-amqplib as 1.2.3"

    (Thanks to Rafael Dohms for the tip.)

  4. Pingback: PHP7: Easiest Upgrade Yet | LornaJane

  5. Note: if composer fails to find the branch ("The requested package user/repo branch could not be found.") try clearing the cache with composer clear-cache. That fixed the issue for me.

    • The devil is in the detail with this - so glad it helped you too (I refer to this post fairly often!)


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