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CodeIgniter Unit Tests

Status : Build Status

Do not merge to default until these issues have been addressed

  • Clean up naming conventions
  • Figure out config stuff
  • Figure out database testing


This is the preliminary CodeIgniter testing documentation. It will cover both internal as well as external APIs and the reasoning behind their implemenation, where appropriate. As with all CodeIgniter documentation, this file should maintain a mostly human readable format to facilitate clean api design. [see]

First public draft: everything is subject to change


PHP Unit >= 3.5.6

pear channel-discover
pear install phpunit/PHPUnit


pear channel-discover
pear install pat/vfsStream-alpha

Installation of PEAR and PHPUnit on Ubuntu

Installation on Ubuntu requires a few steps. Depending on your setup you may need to use 'sudo' to install these. Mileage may vary but these steps are a good start.

# Install the PEAR package
sudo apt-get install php-pear

# Add a few sources to PEAR
pear channel-discover
pear channel-discover
pear channel-discover
pear channel-discover 

# Finally install PHPUnit and vfsStream (including dependencies)
pear install --alldeps phpunit/PHPUnit
pear install --alldeps pat/vfsStream-alpha

# Finally, run 'phpunit' from within the ./tests directory
# and you should be on your way!

Test Suites:

CodeIgniter bootstraps a request very directly, with very flat class hierarchy. As a result, there is no main CodeIgniter class until the controller is instantiated.

This has forced the core classes to be relatively decoupled, which is a good thing. However, it makes that portion of code relatively hard to test.

Right now that means we'll probably have two core test suites, along with a base for application and package tests. That gives us:

  1. Bootstrap Test - test common.php and sanity check codeigniter.php [in planning]
  2. System Test - test core components in relative isolation [in development]
  3. Application Test - bootstrapping for application/tests [not started]
  4. Package Test - bootstrapping for /tests [not started]

CI_TestCase Documentation

Test cases should extend CI_TestCase. This internally extends PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase, so you have access to all of your usual PHPUnit methods.

We need to provide a simple way to modify the globals and the common function output. We also need to be able to mock up the super object as we please.

Current API is not stable. Names and implementations will change.

$this->ci_set_config($key, $val)

Set the global config variables. If key is an array, it will replace the entire config array. They are not merged.


Set the object to use as the "super object", in a lot of cases this will be a simple stdClass with the attributes you need it to have. If no parameter, will return the instance.

$this->ci_instance_var($name, $val)

Add an attribute to the super object. This is useful if you set up a simple instance in setUp and then need to add different class mockups to your super object.


Get the class name of a core class, so that you can instantiate it. The variable is returned by reference and is tied to the correct $GLOBALS key. For example:

$cfg =& $this->ci_core_class('cfg'); // returns 'CI_Config'
$cfg = new $cfg; // instantiates config and overwrites the CFG global

$this->ci_set_core_class($name, $obj)

An alternative way to set one of the core globals.

$this->ci_get_config()  __internal__

Returns the global config array. Internal as you shouldn't need to call this (you're setting it, after all). Used internally to make CI's get_config() work.

CI_TestCase::instance()  __internal__

Returns an instance of the current test case. We force phpunit to run with backup-globals enabled, so this will always be the instance of the currently running test class.

Going forward

1. Bootstrap Test

Testing common.php should be pretty simple. Include the file, and test the functions. May require some tweaking so that we can grab the statics from all methods (see is_loaded()). Testing the actual CodeIgniter.php file will most likely be an output test for the default view, with some object checking after the file runs. Needs consideration.

2. System Test

Testing the core system relies on being able to isolate the core components as much as possible. A few of them access other core classes as globals. These should be mocked up and easy to manipulate.

All functions in common.php should be a minimal implementation, or and mapped to a method in the test's parent class to gives us full control of their output.

3. Application Test:

Not sure yet, needs to handle:

  • Libraries
  • Helpers
  • Models
  • MY_* files
  • Controllers (uh...?)
  • Views? (watir, selenium, cucumber?)
  • Database Testing

4. Package Test:

I don't have a clue how this will work.

Needs to be able to handle packages that are used multiple times within the application (i.e. EE/Pyro modules) as well as packages that are used by multiple applications (library distributions)

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