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php – Unit Testing a Website

Posted by: admin April 23, 2020 Leave a comment


I’m curious to see how other developers go about testing their web sites. PHP specifically in my case, but this probably spans multiple languages. I’ve been working on a site for over a year now, and I’d really like to automate a lot of the regression testing I do between versions.

This specific site is in CodeIgniter, so I have some tests for my models. I’d like to move beyond just testing those though. However, this is an issue even non-MVC developers have had to tackle I’m sure.

Edit: I think the functionality that would satisfy a lot of my test desires is the ability to assert that paramters have a specific value at the end of the script processing. In my case a lot of logic is in the controller, and that’s the main area I’d like to test.

How to&Answers:

For actual unit testing without testing the UI, you should just test the functions in the model. Most of your functionality should be in there anyways.

You might want to have a look at Selenium for testing the UI of your site. It can record your actions and play them back, or you can edit the scripting directly.
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(source: seleniumhq.org)


Have you tried Fitnesse ?

It helps on creating Acceptance tests. They are specially useful for websites, which doing this kind of tests are a pain.

There are a couple of videos from unclebob inside the webpage too. The good thing is that Fitnesse is not restricted for website testing, so your knowledge about using it can be used with other apps too.

The project I’m working on is a Desktop APP written in c++ that uses Fitnesse tests.

But if you meant unit testing the models (which I think you didn’t), they can be create using the phpunit lib. I think the ZEND framework has a similar lib for that.


You might want to check out PHPUnit

I have started using it on my PHP projects and it’s very easy to work with and very powerful. In particular, learn and use mocks:

Mocking is especially important when unit testing applications that do database operations.


Take a look at TOAST. It’s build specially for CodeIgniter. It uses CI infrastructure, so you can run all test tests via a browser and results are displayed back as a web page (HTML). It’s very simple to use.

I suggest you test your Controllers as well. Testing model is ok, but model is just the DB storage. Controllers contain all the “business logic” and are the place where most things go wrong.


One of the best ideas I’ve heard of, as far as testing web apps go, was to create a script that would go over all the pages in the site and check them for differences from the previous scan, letting you accept changes and fix regressions.

Generally speaking, automatic testing of GUI applications (websites are GUI apps) is difficult and usually unnecessary. Unit tests work best with simple libraries.


I use Canoo WebTest. It is the best free web site unit test framework out there. It is entirely scriptable with XML and requires no browser so it can run from a build server.


We modified Waiter (Ruby). It plays back “scripts” of URLs and Form Filling to IE and we have added a script “command” to take a Screen Capture; the screen capture image is compared against a Known-Good-Image (i.e. a Master Image) and if that image is different it is logged (basically a Web page of such results is prepared) and “a human” does a review of the Master / Test image. Obviously there are two outcomes at that point – “The difference is intentional” or “There is an incorrect change”. In the first instance the Master image is replaced with the New Image; in the second we go fix the bug, and the change will be included in the next test run