How do I start using Drupal 8 on Plesk?

This FAQ was last modified on: Wednesday, April 29, 2020 01:19pm

How do I get started with Drupal 8 on Plesk?

There are several ways you can get a Drupal 8 site up and running:

  • (Recommended) Request a Drupal Express 8 installation

    OIT Plesk Web Hosting offers "Drupal Express 8", similar to Drupal Express 7, which we can install to your site account for you.

    Drupal Express 8 provides:

    • A ready-to-go Drupal 8 installation
    • Built using Institute Communication's official gt_installer project, which provides the GT Theme, helper modules, Layout Builder custom blocks, and more

    You can request it with a new site account, or ask us to add it to an existing site account.

  • Develop locally

    You can build your Drupal 8 site locally using full Composer CLI and other tools like Drush or Drupal Console.

    A Georgia Tech quickstart is available with Institute Communication's gt_installer project.

    Once ready, you can sync your files and database(s) to your Plesk site account. Check out Plesk's guide on how to use the Git extension with webhooks to set up a workflow for pushing local changes automatically to your Plesk site account.

  • Use the PHP Composer UI tool to install Drupal 8

    It's possible to use Plesk's PHP Composer tool in the control panel to install a Drupal 8 site.

    Check out the How To down below, where we demonstrate setting up a standard Drupal 8 site and add the GT Theme.

How do I manage a Drupal 8 site with Composer?

We recommend local development when working with Composer-managed site projects, since full Composer CLI and other tools (Drush, Drupal Console) are not available to the site accounts.

However, you can also use the PHP Composer UI tool to manage dependencies from the site's control panel.

Demo: How to use the PHP Composer tool to install a Drupal 8 site with the GT Theme

While we work on setting up a stand-alone demo video, check out our 2020 OneIT Symposium video, which contains a 10-minute demo you can follow along with.

Part One: Installing a standard Drupal 8 site
  1. Use the Git extension tool to add a new remote repository and clone the Drupal 8 recommended project repo files to your site via HTTPS
  2. Go to the PHP Composer tool and let it complete its scan, if prompted
  3. Make sure the /httpdocs composer.json file is selected with the [change] option
  4. Click Install and let it complete
  5. Go to Hosting Settings and set Document Root field to httpdocs/web
  6. Go to Databases and click Add database:
    • Database name: your preference
    • Related site: the domain
    • Database user name: same as database name
    • Database user password: generate/set and copy for next step
    • Leave everything else as default and save
  7. In a new browser tab, visit your domain's URL to see the Drupal 8 installation wizard
  8. Fill out the installation wizard as preferred with a Standard installation profile, providing the database information we just created, and you'll end up with the Drupal 8 site complete
Part Two: Adding and enabling the GT Theme
  1. Create a personal access token for and pass those credentials in as a COMPOSER_AUTH environment variable
    Note:See our Composer on Plesk FAQ for details on this step
  2. Using the gt_installer composer.json for easy reference, edit your composer.json:
    • Add the GT Theme's repository URL to the "repositories" section
    • Add the GT Theme as a required dependency in the "require" section

    This tells Composer that you need the GT Theme files, and where Composer can find them.

  3. Composer will prompt you to click Update
  4. From your Drupal admin view, go to Admin > Appearance
  5. Click Install and set as default for one of the GT Design Packs (e.g., Curie)
  6. Navigate to the site's front page, and you'll see gold and white!

Common Questions and Issues


Is there a way to schedule Composer updates with the PHP Composer tool?

At this time, the PHP Composer doesn't support automatic scheduling. Updates need to be manually run.

Will Composer CLI (and Drush/Drupal Console) be available at some point to the site accounts?

The current server architecture can only safely support very limited CLI functionality.

However, we are currently working on the next generation of Plesk hosting, which is intended to address this issue and allow us to provide stronger CLI functionality for developers.

Composer error: Credentials issue

If your Drupal 8 site's composer.json includes packages from private repos or platforms, such as, you will need to pass in credentials so that Composer can access those packages. See our Composer on Plesk FAQ to learn how to set credentials.

Note: An existing Plesk bug may disable the option to set credentials via environment variable. If this occurs, you will need to:

  1. Edit the composer.json to remove all references to private repositories and required packages
  2. Refresh Composer's scan if prompted, or by clicking Update
  3. The Environment Variables Specify button should be re-enabled: use it to set your credentials
  4. Edit the composer.json to re-add the references to any private repositories or required packages