.env environment variables when working with Apache

I’m getting in the habit of using a .env file for loading environment variables. Laravel already uses them for setting up configuration. It’s a nice way to setup variables that can be used in bash or through a php library like vlucas/phpdotenv.

For a site I’m working on I wanted the environment variable APP_ENV set to “local” in development and set to “production” on the live site (each environment has it’s own .env file). My configuration keep on getting overridden somewhere and returning “dev”.

What happened was the APP_ENV environment variable was already set in the Apache virtual host configuration and phpdotenv will not override variable set in Apache virtual host configuration.

If you are running into this same issue a pretty easy fix. Unset the variable in you .htaccess file and then the correct value will load from your .env file. At the top of my .htaccess file in the public root I have this then:

<IfModule mod_env.c>
    # unset the APP_ENV variable since it might have been set in Apache's vhost file and needs to be used from .env
     UnsetEnv APP_ENV
</IfModule>

Hope that helps!