Turns out Laravel Homestead is almost exactly the development environment I was looking for — it can be added as a Composer dependancy to any PHP project and configured using a simple Yaml file. The host machine needs only Vagrant and VirtualBox.
How it Works
First, we add a very minimal
Vagrantfile to the project root which reads the Homestead’s configuration from
Homestead.yaml (could be named anything) and triggers the provisioning logic in
scripts/homestead.rb using the supplied configuration.
We install WordPress a development dependancy in
package.json and configured it from the same
Vagrantfile using an inline shell script (and WP-CLI which comes bundled with Homestead):
inline: "wp config create",
and use a dedicated
wp-cli.yaml which defines the database access parameters and credentials:
which are used as defaults during
wp config create.
wp-cli.yaml lives within our theme directory so we specify the
WP_CLI_CONFIG_PATH environment variable in
Homestead.yaml which points to
wp-cli.yaml inside the virtual environment.
Laravel Homestead runs the provision scripts as
root inside the virtual machine so the regular non-privileged
vagrant user can’t write to disk which prevents us from downloading and setting up WordPress from within the virtual environment. This can probably be adjusted with a few additional lines of configuration in