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Manage environment variables

Environment variables are a method for injecting information into WordPress and Node.js WPVIP Platform environments.

Environment variables are commonly used to:

  • Provide sensitive values (such as API secrets) to an application without committing the values to a site’s GitHub repository or storing the values in a site’s database.
  • Provide flags that can be used to vary behavior between environments. For example, an environment variable can be set to provide one value to a production environment and a different value to a develop environment.


  • Each VIP Platform environment has its own discrete set of environment variables. For an environment variable to be available on all environments, it must be set on each environment separately.
  • An environment variable’s key is limited to 255 bytes.
  • An environment variable’s value is limited to 4096 bytes.
  • The overall limit of all keys and values of an environment’s environment variables is 16384 bytes.
  • New or updated environment variables will not be available until the application’s next code deployment.
  • VIP-CLI can only be used to manage environment variables on VIP Platform environments. Manage environment variables for a VIP Local Development Environment by manually adding them as a defined constant.
  • The VIP-CLI vip config envvar command is for VIP Platform environments only, and cannot be used on a VIP Local Development Environment. Manage environment variables on a VIP Local Development Environment by manually adding them as a defined constant instead.

Reserved names

Some environment variable names are reserved:

  • The prefixes WPCOM_, VIP_, and IS_VIP_ are reserved and cannot be used for environment variable naming.
  • To avoid conflicts, names reserved for WordPress constants (e.g. DB_NAME) cannot be used as environment variables.


Manage environment variables with VIP-CLI

Manage environment variables with the subcommands of the VIP-CLI command: vip config envvar.

Add or update a value

To add or update an environment variable and assign it a value: vip config envvar set [options]


New or updated environment variables will not be available until the application’s next code deployment.

In this example, the new environment variable EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR is added:

vip @wpvip.production config envvar set EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR          

At the next prompt in the command line, the value 1234567890 is assigned to the EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR variable :

For multiline input, use the --from-file option.

✔ Enter the value for EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR: · 1234567890

The user confirms that the entered value is correct:

✔ Please confirm the input value above (y/N) · true

Successfully added environment variables and values will return output similar to this message:

Successfully set environment variable "EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR"


Accepted values: A relative or absolute path to a UTF-8-encoded text file

The --from-file option extracts a string from the file existing at the relative or absolute path in the passed value.

Use of the --from-file option is required for a string that has multiple lines created by newlines.

For example, to assign the multiline contents of a *.pem file as the value for the environment variable EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR:

vip @example-app.develop config envvar set EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR --from-file=/path/to/public.pem

Accessing environment variables in an application

Environment variables are always provided as strings, even if their value resembles another data type (e.g., "true""123""[1, 2, 3]"). String values can be converted or deserialized by an application into the desired data type, but they should be validated thoroughly.

On the VIP Platform, environment variables are accessed differently depending on the application type.


Environment variables are provided as actual environment variables and are accessed using process.env. For example:

const apiKey = process.env.EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR || null;



Both the the Environment::get_var() helper method and the vip_get_env_var helper function are available for use in vip-config.php.

Environment variables are accessed using the Environment::get_var() helper method or vip_get_env_var helper function. For example:

// Using class method
$api_key = Automattic\VIP\Environment::get_var( 'EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR', $default_value );
// Using helper function
$api_key = vip_get_env_var( 'EXAMPLE_ENV_VAR', $default_value );

Last updated: April 04, 2024

Relevant to

  • Node.js
  • WordPress