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Configure PHPUnit for your project

This guide helps you to run PHPUnit tests in your SilverStripe project. See "Testing" for an overview on how to create unit tests.

Should I execute through "sake dev/tests" or "phpunit"?

Short answer: Both are valid ways.

The sake executable that comes with SilverStripe can trigger a customized TestRunner class that handles the PHPUnit configuration and output formatting. It's tyically invoked to run all tests through sake dev/tests/all, a single test with sake dev/tests/MyTestClass, or tests for a module with sake dev/tests/module/mymodulename. While the custom test runner a handy tool, its also more limited than using phpunit directly, particularly around formatting test output.

The phpunit executable uses a SilverStripe bootstrapper to autoload classes, but handles its own test class retrieval, output formatting and other configuration. It can format output in common structured formats used by "continuous integration" servers. If you're using phpUnderControl or a similar tool, you will most likely need the --log-junit and --coverage-xml flags that are not available through sake.

All command-line arguments are documented on

Usage of "phpunit" executable

  • phpunit: Runs all tests in all folders
  • phpunit sapphire/tests/: Run all tests of the sapphire module
  • phpunit sapphire/tests/filesystem: Run all filesystem tests within the sapphire module
  • phpunit sapphire/tests/filesystem/FolderTest.php: Run a single test
  • phpunit sapphire/tests '' flush=all: Run tests with optional $_GET parameters (you need an empty second argument)

Coverage reports

  • phpunit --coverage-html assets/coverage-report: Generate coverage report for the whole project
  • phpunit --coverage-html assets/coverage-report mysite/tests/: Generate coverage report for the "mysite" module

Customizing phpunit.xml.dist

The phpunit executable can be configured by commandline arguments or through an XML file. File-based configuration has the advantage of enforcing certain rules across test executions (e.g. excluding files from code coverage reports), and of course this information can be version controlled and shared with other team members.

SilverStripe comes with a default phpunit.xml.dist that you can use as a starting point. Copy the file into a new phpunit.xml and customize to your needs - PHPUnit will auto-detect its existence, and prioritize it over the default file.

There's nothing stopping you from creating multiple XML files (see the --configuration flag in PHPUnit documentation). For example, you could have a phpunit-unit-tests.xml and phpunit-functional-tests.xml file (see below).

Running unit and functional tests separately

You can use the filesystem structure of your unit tests to split different aspects. In the simplest form, you can limit your test exeuction to a specific directory by passing in a directory argument (phpunit mymodule/tests). To specify multiple directories, you have to use the XML configuration file. This can be useful to only run certain parts of your project on continous integration, or produce coverage reports separately for unit and functional tests.

Example phpunit-unittests-only.xml:

<phpunit bootstrap="/sapphire/tests/bootstrap.php" colors="true">
            <!-- ... -->
    <!-- ... -->

You can run with this XML configuration simply by invoking phpunit --configuration phpunit-unittests-only.xml.

The same effect can be achieved with the --group argument and some PHPDoc (see

Adding/removing files for code coverage reports

Not all PHP code in your project should be regarded when producing code coverage reports. This applies for all thirdparty code

        <directory suffix=".php">sapphire/dev/</directory>
        <directory suffix=".php">sapphire/thirdparty/</directory>
        <directory suffix=".php">cms/thirdparty/</directory>

        <!-- Add your custom rules here -->
        <directory suffix=".php">mysite/thirdparty/</directory>

See for more information.

Speeding up your test execution with the SQLite3 module

Test execution can easily take a couple of minutes for a full run, particularly if you have a lot of database write operations. This is a problem when you're trying to to "Test Driven Development".

To speed things up a bit, you can simply use a faster database just for executing tests. The sapphire database layer makes this relatively easy, most likely you won't need to adjust any project code or alter SQL statements.

The SQLite3 module provides an interface to a very fast database that requires minimal setup and is fully file-based. It should give you up to 4x speed improvements over running tests in MySQL or other more "heavy duty" relational databases.

Example mysite/_config.php:

// Customized configuration for running with different database settings.
// Ensure this code comes after ConfigureFromEnv.php
if(Director::isDev()) {
    if($db = @$_GET['db']) {
        global $databaseConfig;
        if($db == 'sqlite3') $databaseConfig['type'] = 'SQLite3Database';

You can either use the database on a single invocation:

phpunit sapphire/tests "" db=sqlite3

or through a <php> flag in your phpunit.xml (see Appenix C: "Setting PHP INI settings"):

    <!-- ... -->
        <var name="db" value="sqlite3"/>

It is recommended that you still run your tests with the original database driver (at least on continuous integration) to ensure a realistic test scenario.

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