Local Development

Suggestions and solutions for working locally on your Pantheon Drupal or WordPress site.

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While Pantheon provides several options for on-server development, local development has a number of advantages, especially if continuous Internet access is a concern.

Pantheon cannot troubleshoot or support local development solutions; however, we can provide some suggestions and known working solutions. For large teams/sites, we recommend using Multidev.

If you encounter any issues, visit the Lando GitHub repository.

Before You Begin

There are three parts to any dynamic website:

  1. Code: The application, modules or plugins, and themes.

  2. Database: The content.

  3. Files: User uploaded or application generated.

You will need to transfer each file from Pantheon to your local environment.

Be sure you have:

Export Variables

Set the temporary variable $SITE in your terminal session to match the name of your site.

This doc uses several commands that use the temporary command line alias, $SITE, to make entering command examples easier. Refer to the steps further in this doc to see which sites should be aliased (it may be more than one), then replace anita-drupal in this example:

export SITE=anita-drupal && echo "New alias set as $SITE"

Export the environment as a variable as well:

export ENV=dev

Clear Site Environment Cache

To save time, clear the target site environment's cache. This can be done from the Pantheon Dashboard, from the application itself, or by running the following Terminus command:

terminus env:clear-cache $SITE.$ENV

Get the Code

The first step is to get a git clone of your code from Pantheon on your local computer.

  1. Log in to Pantheon > Open the Site Dashboard.

  2. Locate the git clone command at the top of the development panel > Copy and paste it into your terminal.

    It will look similar to this:

    Example of Git Clone repo for command line: `git clone ssh://codeserver.dev.0e1f236a-ec36-4143-a900-73a92a344`

  3. Go to where you want the code to reside in your local environment.

    Git will create a directory as part of the clone, so you don't need to create one.

  4. Run the command you copied in step 2:

    git clone ssh://codeserver.dev.xxx@codeserver.dev.xxx.drush.in:2222/~/repository.git my-site

    If everything worked correctly, you will see Git fetching the data:

    Cloning into 'anita-wordpress'...
    The authenticity of host '[codeserver.dev.....drush.in]:2222 ([]:2222)' can't be established.
    RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:yPEkh1Amd9WFBSP5syXD5rhUByTjaKBxQnlb5CahZZE.
    Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no/[fingerprint])? yes
    Warning: Permanently added '[codeserver.dev.....drush.in]:2222,[]:2222' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
    remote: Counting objects: 20503, done.
    remote: Compressing objects: 100% (8184/8184), done.
    remote: Total 20503 (delta 12802), reused 19671 (delta 11982)
    Receiving objects: 100% (20503/20503), 46.65 MiB | 15.16 MiB/s, done.
    Resolving deltas: 100% (12802/12802), done.

    If you run into permission problems, check your SSH key setup. If the clone starts but can't complete, check your network to see if you have a current version of Git.

Get the Database

Via Dashboard

  1. Navigate to the Site Dashboard.

  2. Select Database / Files, select Export, and then select Export Database to create an on-demand backup.

  3. Select Backups, select Backup Log, and then select Database download link to download the backup.

  4. Import the database into your local environment with your MySQL client:

    gunzip < database.sql.gz | mysql -uUSER -pPASSWORD DATABASENAME


    Replace database.sql.gz with the name of the database archive downloaded from Pantheon.

Via Terminus

  1. Create and get the database with Terminus commands:

    terminus backup:create $SITE.$ENV --element=db
    terminus backup:get $SITE.$ENV --element=db
  2. Run the command below to import the archive into your local MySQL database:

    gunzip < database.sql.gz | mysql -uUSER -pPASSWORD DATABASENAME

Get the Files

For an overview of ways to transfer files, see SFTP and rsync on Pantheon.

Via Terminus

  1. Run the following Terminus commands:

    terminus backup:create $SITE.$ENV --element=files
    terminus backup:get $SITE.$ENV --element=files

    This will create and get a backup of the site's files.

  2. Move the resulting backup to the correct directory on your local file system:

    • Drupal: sites/default/files
    • WordPress: wp-content/uploads


SFTP is slower, but easier for some to use:

  1. Click Connection Info to get your SFTP login credentials.

    You will see your connection credentials and a link to connect directly with your preferred client.

  2. Use the terminal to navigate to the correct directory on your local file system:

    • Drupal: sites/default
    • WordPress: wp-content/uploads
  3. Paste the CLI command copied from your Dashboard.

  4. Run get -r * to transfer the files down to your local environment.

Submit Changes to Pantheon

Send the Code

  1. Test your changes, then commit locally and push to Pantheon:

    git commit -am "enter a summary of the changes"
  2. Push the changes:

    git push origin master

Send the Database

  1. Create an archive using the MySQL utility mysqldump:

    mysqldump -uUSERNAME -pPASSWORD DATABASENAME | gzip > database.sql.gz
  2. Open your Pantheon Dashboard and select Database / Files > Import to upload and import the file.

Send the Files

Upload files to Drupal Via Drush

Drush and Rsync are the easiest ways to send files for Drupal sites:

drush -r . rsync --temp-dir=../tmp/ @self:sites/default/files/ @pantheon.SITENAME.ENV:%files

Upload Files to WordPress or Drupal Via SFTP

Send files using SFTP:

  1. Copy the SFTP CLI command.

  2. Use the terminal to navigate to the correct directory on your local file system:

    • Drupal: sites/default/files
    • WordPress: wp-content/uploads
  3. Paste the CLI command copied from your Dashboard.

  4. Navigate to the correct remote directory by running cd files

  5. Run put -r ./* to transfer the files.

You can also transfer a single file or a single directory at a time instead of transferring every file, every time.

Local Configuration Files

You'll need to configure database credentials matching your local database to develop locally. Do not manually change these details in your primary configuration file (e.g. settings.php or wp-config.php), as this could commit changes to version control and trigger a connection error on Dev when pushing to Pantheon.

We recommend using a local configuration file (e.g. settings.local.php or wp-config-local.php) that is excluded from version control and included by settings.php or wp-config.php when found. Since the local configuration file is ignored by Git, it won't be found on Pantheon but it will be applied when you run the site locally.

Pantheon's upstreams will detect and include wp-config-local.php (WordPress) and settings.local.php (Drupal 8) for local environment configurations.

This file is ignored by the .gitignore file in WordPress and Drupal 8 so that local configurations do not get pushed to Pantheon. Simply create the file on your local computer, and manage configurations accordingly.

WordPress wp-config-local.php

Pantheon sites that install WordPress 5.5 include a wp-config-local-sample.php file. Older sites can copy wp-config-local-sample.php file on GitHub to the same directory as the site's wp-config.php, or create one in that location as shown here.

The following can be used as a starting point for wp-config-local.php. Replace the database values with the values from your local environment, and the key/salt values with your unique phrase (generated from WordPress.org).

Drupal settings.local.php

  1. Create the local settings file and add it to .gitignore.

  2. Change to the site's directory and create the file.

  3. Change the first command in this example to fit the site's directory structure:

    cd sites/default
    touch settings.local.php
  4. Add the local configuration file to .gitignore:


Note that Drupal 7 users need to add a reference to the local file from within settings.php:

 * Drupal 7 only: Include a local settings file if it exists.
$local_settings = dirname(__FILE__) . '/settings.local.php';
if (file_exists($local_settings)) {
  include $local_settings;