Here is what I'm trying to do :

  1. Write a php script that import external data into drupal.
  2. Run that script every night with a cron that executes it using php, not wget.

In other words, I need my import script to run from the command line.

First step is done and working great when run as a module from Drupal. So I took all required bits of it, created a new file, and bootstraped drupal. After fixing a few warnings and errors (path issues mainly), the file is executed but actually no job is done.

So I start adding echo commands to see where everything goes to hell. And it appears that it's right after


What I mean is that no error, warning or whatever is raised, but it's like the script exit somewhere inside that call.

I tried to lower the boostrap level to DRUPAL_BOOTSTRAP_LANGUAGE, but then I get the following error :

Fatal error: Call to undefined function field_info_field() in /www/includes/entity.inc on line 768

I'm a bit lost on what happens and would welcome any suggestion.

Also, here is the beginning of the script that bootstrap Drupal :

    ini_set("display_errors", 1);

    $cmd = 'index.php';
    $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']       = 'default';
    $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']        = '/index.php';
    $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR']     = '';
    $_SERVER['QUERY_STRING']    = '';
    $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']        = $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'] = '/';
    $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'] = 'console';    

    define('DRUPAL_ROOT', '/www/');
    require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/includes/bootstrap.inc';

    // nothing gets executed past this point
  • For anyone who would run into the same issue, I ended up doing what Damien suggested (using drush). Unfortunatly, our drupal setup seemed a bit unstable and drush would not run. So I installed a blank drupal to run drush from, and changed the running DB with db_set_active Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


Don't even try this. Use drush, it is meant for this type of things precisely.

The drush php-script command will allow you to run any PHP script in the context of Drupal, but I would recommend writing those as a proper command inside a custom module.

  • Actually the cron is doing far more things than just calling the php script. It's connecting to a remote FTP, download the sql dump, import it to a local database, backup the drupal database, do the import into drupal, and then cleanup on succes or restore + log + mail on error. Tbh, if we good have inserted the data directly in the drupal db, without leveraging drupal, I'd be happy. But we need the drupal API. What I also want to avoid is curling a drupal module to make the cron work. Why can't we use the bootstrap for this ? it seems to be designed for that kind of thing. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 8:00
  • @SebastienF. I think you missed a a key point here. If you call 'drush php-script myimporter.php', then it will run just like it was called from Drupal. drush takes care of all of the quirks of doing a bootstrap from the command line.
    – mpdonadio
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 13:18
  • Oh ok, didn't understood it like that. Will try asap and update accordingly. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 17:33
  • Installed drush, made a simple test (node_load(21)), getting the "Fatal error: Call to undefined function node_load()", tried everything I found so far (putting the script in default site directory, calling the script from the root drupal directory, etc). Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 9:55

I agree with Damien. Trying to invoke the bootstrap is not the way to go.

If the data you are importing is in csv or xml format, I would suggest you use the Feeds module. It is tailor made for this and you can schedule it as a daily task.

  • The data are in an external database, there's quite a lot of them to process, and for everything described in the comment I added on Damien's answer, I'd rather avoid doing this from drupal but rather doing it from the command line. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 8:03
  • There is the Feeds database module which is an add-on fetcher. Once the local db has been loaded from the dump, it might provide a simpler way of mapping the content creation. I like command line too, but sometimes it is really more efficient to let drupal handle the mappings to the various tables. You can still use drush to invoke the process.
    – Triskelion
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 20:38

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