Monday, December 07, 2009

PHPUnit and Phing cohabitation

During the publication of Practical Php Testing some readers asked me to include information on how to make PHPUnit and Phing work together. It was not possible due to time constraints to include an appendix on this topic, so I will talk about it here.

First, some background:
  • PHPUnit is the leading testing harness in the php world: it consists in a small powerful framework for defining test cases, making assertion and mocking classes.
  • Phing is an Ant clone written in php, that should become the standard solution for automating php applications targets such as deployment, running different test suites at the same time and generating documentation. Why using Phing instead of Ant? Because it interfaces well with php applications.
Integrating these two tools means giving Phing access to a PHPUnit test suite and letting the phing build files, which manage configuration, contain also information on how to run the test suite. In the build.xml file of an application you should find different targets like generate-documentation, test-all, compile-all (if php were a compiled language), and so on.

There are two ways for accessing PHPUnit test suites via phing: exec and phpunit tasks.
At the time of this writing, the phpunit task bundled in stable releases of Phing lacks functionalities, primarily the ability to define a bootstrap file to execute before the test suite is run. I can't live without --boostrap and I look forward to a release of Phing that lets me specify this file in the configuration.
This release will be Phing 2.4.0 (at least a Release Candidate 3 version, while on December 2009 it is in RC2). There are two things that are being fixed and that would annoy the average developer a lot:
  • There was a bug in the last RC release affecting the bootstrap parameter, and the inclusion took place too late in the process, producing fatal errors when the suite for instance relies on autoloading. This bug is fixed in the repositories and will be gone in the next RC release. I downloaded the simple patch and applied it manually to try out the bootstrap functionality and it works very well. (
  • The summary formatter is not a summary: it uses the wrong hook method, producing a report for every single test case and resulting in an output hundreds of lines long. I opened a ticket to tackle this issue. (
What we will be able to do
<target name="test">
    <phpunit bootstrap="tests/bootstrap.php">
        <formatter type="summary" usefile="false" />
            <fileset dir="tests">
                <include name="**/*Test.php"/>
When you push the big test button on your desktop (from the cli type phing test), this xml configuration will hopefully produce a report while your test suite runs.
The problems with this approach are it does not work yet due to the bugs I have listed earlier, and that it eats quite a bit of memory, forcing me to increase the limit to 128 Megabyte for a suite composed of 144 unit tests.

What we do now
Until a stable version of Phing 2.4 is released, we should rely on exec commands, which directly call the phpunit binary executable (not so binary: it is in fact a php script):
   <target name="test">
        <exec command="phpunit --bootstrap tests/bootstrap.php 
--configuration tests/phpunit.xml --colors"
dir="${srcRoot}" passthru="true" />
        <exec command="phpunit --bootstrap=example/application/bootstrap.php  
--configuration example/application/tests/phpunit.xml --colors"
dir="${srcRoot}" passthru="true" />
$srcRoot is a property that specifies the working directory to run the phpunit command in. passthru makes the task echo the output of the command.
This approach is sometimes more flexible than using the specialized phpunit task. More flexible in the sense that you don't have to expect that phing includes in its tasks options for configuring new phpunit features, because you can use them just as they are available from the command line. On the other hand, it may be difficult to perform different actions (like lighting up a red semaphore in your office) basing on the last build state (red or green).

So I'm relying on exec tasks for now. By the way, the result is pretty and colors are even conserved, but I have to expect the end of the exec command to see any output (no dots slowly piling up on the screen).
If you enjoy using Phing and PHPUnit, please provide feedback and contribute to the projects, especially in the case of Phing. It is a project that deserves more attention from the community due to its integration tasks.
UPDATE: Phing 2.4.0 was released on January 17, 2010.


kandy said...

You can see my solution

Giorgio said...

I do not speak Russian but it seems a good example of a custom formatter, though I'd like a decent one to be included in phing.

Michiel Rook said...

Just FYI, Phing 2.4 was released yesterday :)

Giorgio said...

Thanks, I have added the information to the post accordingly. :)