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Writing proper tests can assist in writing better software. If you set up proper test cases you can eliminate most functional bugs and better maintain your software.

Integrating PHPUnit with Phalcon

If you don't already have phpunit installed, you can do it by using the following composer command:

composer require --dev phpunit/phpunit:^5.0

or by manually adding it to composer.json:

    "require-dev": {
        "phpunit/phpunit": "^5.0"

Once PHPUnit is installed create a directory called tests in project root directory:


Next, we need a 'helper' file to bootstrap the application for unit testing.

The PHPUnit helper file

A helper file is required to bootstrap the application for running the tests. We have prepared a sample file. Put the file in your tests/ directory as TestHelper.php.


use Phalcon\Di;
use Phalcon\Di\FactoryDefault;
use Phalcon\Loader;

ini_set("display_errors", 1);

define("ROOT_PATH", __DIR__);

    ROOT_PATH . PATH_SEPARATOR . get_include_path()

// Required for phalcon/incubator
include __DIR__ . "/../vendor/autoload.php";

// Use the application autoloader to autoload the classes
// Autoload the dependencies found in composer
$loader = new Loader();



$di = new FactoryDefault();


// Add any needed services to the DI here


Should you need to test any components from your own library, add them to the autoloader or use the autoloader from your main application.

To help you build the Unit Tests, we made a few abstract classes you can use to bootstrap the Unit Tests themselves. These files exist in the Phalcon Incubator.

You can use the Incubator library by adding it as a dependency:

composer require phalcon/incubator

or by manually adding it to composer.json:

    "require": {
        "phalcon/incubator": "^3.0"

You can also clone the repository using the repo link above.

The phpunit.xml file

Now, create a phpunit.xml file as follows:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<phpunit bootstrap="./TestHelper.php"

    <testsuite name="Phalcon - Testsuite">

Modify the phpunit.xml to fit your needs and save it in tests. This will run any tests under the tests directory.

Sample Unit Test

To run any Unit Tests you need to define them. The autoloader will make sure the proper files are loaded so all you need to do is create the files and phpunit will run the tests for you.

This example does not contain a config file, most test cases however, do need one. You can add it to the DI to get the UnitTestCase file.

First create a base Unit Test called UnitTestCase.php in your tests directory:


use Phalcon\Di;
use Phalcon\Test\UnitTestCase as PhalconTestCase;

abstract class UnitTestCase extends PhalconTestCase
     * @var bool
    private $_loaded = false;

    public function setUp()

        // Load any additional services that might be required during testing
        $di = Di::getDefault();

        // Get any DI components here. If you have a config, be sure to pass it to the parent


        $this->_loaded = true;

     * Check if the test case is setup properly
     * @throws \PHPUnit_Framework_IncompleteTestError;
    public function __destruct()
        if (!$this->_loaded) {
            throw new \PHPUnit_Framework_IncompleteTestError(
                "Please run parent::setUp()."

It's always a good idea to separate your Unit Tests in namespaces. For this test we will create the namespace 'Test'. So create a file called tests\Test\UnitTest.php:


namespace Test;

 * Class UnitTest
class UnitTest extends \UnitTestCase
    public function testTestCase()
            "This is OK"

            "This will fail"

Now when you execute phpunit in your command-line from the tests directory you will get the following output:

$ phpunit
PHPUnit 3.7.23 by Sebastian Bergmann.

Configuration read from /var/www/tests/phpunit.xml

Time: 3 ms, Memory: 3.45Mb

There was 1 failure:

1) Test\UnitTest::testTestCase
This will fail
Failed asserting that two strings are equal.
--- Expected
+++ Actual
@@ @@


Tests: 1, Assertions: 2, Failures: 1.

Now you can start building your Unit Tests. You can view a good guide here. We also recommend reading the PHPUnit documentation if you're not familiar with PHPUnit.