Symfony unit tests are simple PHP files ending in Test.php and located in the test/unit/ directory of your application. They follow a simple and readable syntax.

15.2.1. What Do Unit Tests Look Like?

Listing 15-1 shows a typical set of unit tests for the strtolower() function. It starts by an instantiation of the lime_test object (you don't need to worry about the parameters for now). Each unit test is a call to a method of the lime_test instance. The last parameter of these methods is always an optional string that serves as the output.

Listing 15-1 - Example Unit Test File, in test/unit/strtolowerTest.php



$t = new lime_test(7, new lime_output_color());

// strtolower()
$t->isa_ok(strtolower('Foo'), 'string',
    'strtolower() returns a string');
$t->is(strtolower('FOO'), 'foo',
    'strtolower() transforms the input to lowercase');
$t->is(strtolower('foo'), 'foo',
    'strtolower() leaves lowercase characters unchanged');
$t->is(strtolower('12#[email protected]~'), '12#[email protected]~',
    'strtolower() leaves non alphabetical characters unchanged');
$t->is(strtolower('FOO BAR'), 'foo bar',
    'strtolower() leaves blanks alone');
$t->is(strtolower('FoO bAr'), 'foo bar',
    'strtolower() deals with mixed case input');
$t->is(strtolower(''), 'foo',
    'strtolower() transforms empty strings into foo');

Launch the test set from the command line with the test-unit task. The command-line output is very explicit, and it helps you localize which tests failed and which passed. See the output of the example test in Listing 15-2.

Listing 15-2 - Launching a Single Unit Test from the Command Line

> symfony test-unit strtolower

# strtolower()
ok 1 - strtolower() returns a string
ok 2 - strtolower() transforms the input to lowercase
ok 3 - strtolower() leaves lowercase characters unchanged
ok 4 - strtolower() leaves non alphabetical characters unchanged
ok 5 - strtolower() leaves blanks alone
ok 6 - strtolower() deals with mixed case input
not ok 7 - strtolower() transforms empty strings into foo
#     Failed test (.\batch\test.php at line 21)
#            got: ''
#       expected: 'foo'
# Looks like you failed 1 tests of 7.

Tip The include statement at the beginning of Listing 15-1 is optional, but it makes the test file an independent PHP script that you can execute without the symfony command line, by calling php test/unit/strtolowerTest.php.

15.2.2. Unit Testing Methods

The lime_test object comes with a large number of testing methods, as listed in Table 15-2.

Table 15-2 - Methods of the lime_test Object for Unit Testing

Method Description
diag($msg) Outputs a comment but runs no test
ok($test, $msg) Tests a condition and passes if it is true
is($value1, $value2, $msg) Compares two values and passes if they are equal (==)
isnt($value1, $value2, $msg) Compares two values and passes if they are not equal
like($string, $regexp, $msg) Tests a string against a regular expression
unlike($string, $regexp, $msg) Checks that a string doesn't match a regular expression
cmp_ok($value1, $operator, $value2, $msg) Compares two arguments with an operator
isa_ok($variable, $type, $msg) Checks the type of an argument
isa_ok($object, $class, $msg) Checks the class of an object
can_ok($object, $method, $msg) Checks the availability of a method for an object or a class
is_deeply($array1, $array2, $msg) Checks that two arrays have the same values
include_ok($file, $msg) Validates that a file exists and that it is properly included
fail() Always fails--useful for testing exceptions
pass() Always passes--useful for testing exceptions
skip($msg, $nb_tests) Counts as $nb_tests tests--useful for conditional tests
todo() Counts as a test--useful for tests yet to be written

The syntax is quite straightforward; notice that most methods take a message as their last parameter. This message is displayed in the output when the test passes. Actually, the best way to learn these methods is to test them, so have a look at Listing 15-3, which uses them all.

Listing 15-3 - Testing Methods of the lime_test Object, in test/unit/exampleTest.php



// Stub objects and functions for test purposes
class myObject
  public function myMethod()

function throw_an_exception()
  throw new Exception('exception thrown');

// Initialize the test object
$t = new lime_test(16, new lime_output_color());

$t->diag('hello world');
$t->ok(1 == '1', 'the equal operator ignores type');
$t->is(1, '1', 'a string is converted to a number for comparison');
$t->isnt(0, 1, 'zero and one are not equal');
$t->like('test01', '/test\d+/', 'test01 follows the test numbering pattern');
$t->unlike('tests01', '/test\d+/', 'tests01 does not follow the pattern');
$t->cmp_ok(1, '<', 2, 'one is inferior to two');
$t->cmp_ok(1, '!==', true, 'one and true are not identical');
$t->isa_ok('foobar', 'string', '\'foobar\' is a string');
$t->isa_ok(new myObject(), 'myObject', 'new creates object of the right class');
$t->can_ok(new myObject(), 'myMethod', 'objects of class myObject do have a myMethod method');
$array1 = array(1, 2, array(1 => 'foo', 'a' => '4'));
$t->is_deeply($array1, array(1, 2, array(1 => 'foo', 'a' => '4')),
    'the first and the second array are the same');
$t->include_ok('./fooBar.php', 'the fooBar.php file was properly included');

  $t->fail('no code should be executed after throwing an exception');
catch (Exception $e)
  $t->pass('exception catched successfully');

if (!isset($foobar))
  $t->skip('skipping one test to keep the test count exact in the condition', 1);
  $t->ok($foobar, 'foobar');

$t->todo('one test left to do');

You will find a lot of other examples of the usage of these methods in the symfony unit tests.

Tip You may wonder why you would use is() as opposed to ok() here. The error message output by is() is much more explicit; it shows both members of the test, while ok() just says that the condition failed.

15.2.3. Testing Parameters

The initialization of the lime_test object takes as its first parameter the number of tests that should be executed. If the number of tests finally executed differs from this number, the lime output warns you about it. For instance, the test set of Listing 15-3 outputs as Listing 15-4. The initialization stipulated that 16 tests were to run, but only 15 actually took place, so the output indicates this.

Listing 15-4 - The Count of Test Run Helps You to Plan Tests

> symfony test-unit example

# hello world
ok 1 - the equal operator ignores type
ok 2 - a string is converted to a number for comparison
ok 3 - zero and one are not equal
ok 4 - test01 follows the test numbering pattern
ok 5 - tests01 does not follow the pattern
ok 6 - one is inferior to two
ok 7 - one and true are not identical
ok 8 - 'foobar' is a string
ok 9 - new creates object of the right class
ok 10 - objects of class myObject do have a myMethod method
ok 11 - the first and the second array are the same
not ok 12 - the fooBar.php file was properly included
#     Failed test (.\test\unit\testTest.php at line 27)
#       Tried to include './fooBar.php'
ok 13 - exception catched successfully
ok 14 # SKIP skipping one test to keep the test count exact in the condition
ok 15 # TODO one test left to do
# Looks like you planned 16 tests but only ran 15.
# Looks like you failed 1 tests of 16.

The diag() method doesn't count as a test. Use it to show comments, so that your test output stays organized and legible. On the other hand, the todo() and skip() methods count as actual tests. A pass()/fail() combination inside a try/catch block counts as a single test.

A well-planned test strategy must contain an expected number of tests. You will find it very useful to validate your own test files — especially in complex cases where tests are run inside conditions or exceptions. And if the test fails at some point, you will see it quickly because the final number of run tests won't match the number given during initialization.

The second parameter of the constructor is an output object extending the lime_output class. Most of the time, as tests are meant to be run through a CLI, the output is a lime_output_color object, taking advantage of bash coloring when available.

15.2.4. The test-unit Task

The test-unit task, which launches unit tests from the command line, expects either a list of test names or a file pattern. See Listing 15-5 for details.

Listing 15-5 - Launching Unit Tests

// Test directory structure

> symfony test-unit myFunction                   ## Run myFunctionTest.php
> symfony test-unit myFunction mySecondFunction  ## Run both tests
> symfony test-unit 'foo/*'                      ## Run barTest.php
> symfony test-unit '*'                          ## Run all tests (recursive)

15.2.5. Stubs, Fixtures, and Autoloading

In a unit test, the autoloading feature is not active by default. Each class that you use in a test must be either defined in the test file or required as an external dependency. That's why many test files start with a group of include lines, as Listing 15-6 demonstrates.

Listing 15-6 - Including Classes in Unit Tests



$t = new lime_test(7, new lime_output_color());

// isPathAbsolute()
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('/test'), true,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute');
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('\\test'), true,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute');
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('C:\\test'), true,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute');
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('d:/test'), true,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute');
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('test'), false,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns false if path is relative');
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('../test'), false,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns false if path is relative');
$t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute('..\\test'), false,
    'isPathAbsolute() returns false if path is relative');

In unit tests, you need to instantiate not only the object you're testing, but also the object it depends upon. Since unit tests must remain unitary, depending on other classes may make more than one test fail if one class is broken. In addition, setting up real objects can be expensive, both in terms of lines of code and execution time. Keep in mind that speed is crucial in unit testing because developers quickly tire of a slow process.

Whenever you start including many scripts for a unit test, you may need a simple autoloading system. For this purpose, the sfCore class (which must be manually included) provides an initSimpleAutoload() method, which expects an absolute path as parameter. All the classes located under this path will be autoloaded. For instance, if you want to have all the classes located under $sf_symfony_lib_dir/util/ autoloaded, start your unit test script as follows:


Tip The generated Propel objects rely on a long cascade of classes, so as soon as you want to test a Propel object, autoloading is necessary. Note that for Propel to work, you also need to include the files under the vendor/propel/ directory (so the call to sfCore becomes sfCore::initSimpleAutoload(array(SF_ROOT_DIR.'/lib/model', $sf_symfony_lib_dir.'/vendor/propel'));) and to add the Propel core to the include path (by calling set_include_path($sf_symfony_lib_dir.'/vendor'.PATH_SEPARATOR.SF_ROOT_DIR.PATH_SEPARATOR.get_include_path().

Another good workaround for the autoloading issues is the use of stubs. A stub is an alternative implementation of a class where the real methods are replaced with simple canned data. It mimics the behavior of the real class, but without its cost. A good example of stubs is a database connection or a web service interface. In Listing 15-7, the unit tests for a mapping API rely on a WebService class. Instead of calling the real fetch() method of the actual web service class, the test uses a stub that returns test data.

Listing 15-7 - Using Stubs in Unit Tests


class testWebService extends WebService
  public static function fetch()
    return file_get_contents(dirname(__FILE__).'/fixtures/data/fake_web_service.xml');

$myMap = new MapAPI();

$t = new lime_test(1, new lime_output_color());

$t->is($myMap->getMapSize(testWebService::fetch(), 100));

The test data can be more complex than a string or a call to a method. Complex test data is often referred to as fixtures. For coding clarity, it is often better to keep fixtures in separate files, especially if they are used by more than one unit test file. Also, don't forget that symfony can easily transform a YAML file into an array with the sfYAML::load() method. This means that instead of writing long PHP arrays, you can write your test data in a YAML file, as in Listing 15-8.

Listing 15-8 - Using Fixture Files in Unit Tests

// In fixtures.yml:
  input:   '/test'
  output:  true
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute
  input:   '\\test'
  output:  true
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute
  input:   'C:\\test'
  output:  true
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute
  input:   'd:/test'
  output:  true
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns true if path is absolute
  input:   'test'
  output:  false
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns false if path is relative
  input:   '../test'
  output:  false
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns false if path is relative
  input:   '..\\test'
  output:  false
  comment: isPathAbsolute() returns false if path is relative

// In testTest.php


$testCases = sfYaml::load(dirname(__FILE__).'/fixtures.yml');

$t = new lime_test(count($testCases), new lime_output_color());

// isPathAbsolute()
foreach ($testCases as $case)
  $t->is(sfToolkit::isPathAbsolute($case['input']), $case['output'],$case['comment']);