Getting Started With PHPUnit for PHP Unit Testing

by Shahroze Nawaz  October 26, 2016

This article is the first one in the series of articles that focus on Unit Testing, a well known test methodology. I will use PHPUnit as the main test tool for PHP Unit Testing. Once you get hold of the basics, getting started with PHPUnit is not that difficult.

Even a small software development project usually takes hours of hard work. During the course of development, a number of major and minor bugs and problems creep in the structure and code of the application. Developers usually try to work out the bugs during the process of development.

The problem is that there is no surefire way of ensuring that all the bugs have been worked out of the final code. Another important aspect is the possibility of the introduction of further bugs when existing bugs are fixed. To address these problems, testing and QA are integral components of software development process.

Careful software development ensures that some test and QA methodology is built in the development process from the very beginning. The result of such a development process is a robust code that is easy to maintain and extend further.

Understanding Unit Testing

The word Unit refers to a block of code, method or an individual or independent class. Unit testing is a software testing process in which code blocks are checked to see whether the produced result matches the expectations.  The units are tested by writing a unique test case. Unit test are generally automatic but could be implemented manually. I have designed a short algorithm to define it visually how unit test work.

php unit testing

Benefits Of Unit Testing

  • Testing can be automated for speed.
  • Higher probability of bug free code
  • Easy to understand inherited code
  • Refactor code to the point of testability and understandability

Introducing PHPUnit 7

PHPUnit 7 is released on 2nd Feb 2018 come with interesting features , changes and removes exciting features.

Note: PHPUnit 7 requires PHP 7.1 or newer version

PHPUnit Solves Previous Compatibility Issues

The new version of the library solves the a number of compatibility issues faced in the previous versions of PHPUnit. For a detailed discussion on the topic, please check out the official documentation. I also suggest looking into the changelog of the library.

Installing PHPUnit

To explain PHP unit testing, I will use PHPUnit library, developed by Sebastian Burgmen.

Before using the library, you need to set up a proper environment. If you are doing unit testing in local environment, you must install XAMPP, Composer, Enable Xdebug, and finally install PHPUnit. However, thanks to Cloudways, you do not need to install anything except PHPUnit. Xdebug is easily enabled at a single click in the Advance tab in Server Management.

Related: How To Host PHP On DigitalOcean

Login to SSH terminal by using Master Credentials and go to the application folder by using the command

To install PHPUnit from Composer, run the following command in SSH terminal.

For installing from composer.json, add the following lines of code.

You can also install PHPUnit manually by downloading the latest version of PHPUnit from the official Website.

Version Command

If you need to check your PHP Version so type following command on SSH Terminal

Directory Structure

Before starting the test process using PHPUnit, a proper directory structure for the files to be tested is required. At present, the directory structure will looks like this.

I will create a new folder for the files to be tested. Create a folder UnitTestFiles. In this folder, create a subfolder  Test. Create a new file phpunit.xml in this subfolder and add the following code to it.

The colors="true" will show the results in highlighted colors and <directory>./UnitTestFiles/Test/</directory> will ask PHPUnit for the location of the files to be tested.

Now the directory structure will look like:

All the project files will be located in the root, while the files to be tested will be located in the  Test folder

You might also like: Introduction To Laravel Dusk: Testing Todo App

Basic Conventions to Write Test Case

Following are some basic conventions and steps for writing tests with PHPUnit:

  1. Test File names should have a suffix Test. For example, if First.php needs to be tested,the name of the test file name will be FirstTest.php
  2. Similarly, If the class name is MyFirstClass than the test class name will be MyFirstClassTest.
  3. Add test as the prefix for method names. For example,if the method name is getuser(), then in test class, it will become testgetuser(). You can also use @test annotation in document block to declare it as a testing method.
  4. All testing methods are public
  5. MyFirstClassTest should be inherited from PHPUnit\Framework\TestCase

These are the major ground rules for the testing framework. The essential configurations and settings are all setup. It is now time to write the first test case.

Writing The First Test Case

I will now start with a very simple test case.

Create a file FirstTest.php in UnitTestFiles/Test. Add the following code to it.

This is very basic test.  In the first line, I mentioned the namesapace where the test files are located. In the second line, I initialized the PHPUnit framework. FirstTest is the test class that extends Testcase. I have declared a method testTrueCheck() with prefix test. In the method, I simply declares a variable $condition = true; I will next validate (true or false) this variable with assertTrue. Save the file and run it through the SSH terminal by using the following command

Here is the result of our first unit test. To do another test, pass false to the variable $condition. The present result $condition = true is changed to  $condition = false; Run the test command in SSH terminal.

This red line indicates the failure of the test since assertTrue reports an error and identified $condition as false.


This article explains a basic setup that help you in getting started with PHPUnit for PHP unit testing. I would like to  mention several changes in the latest version of PHPUnit. In the previous versions, the class extend with PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase. In the latest version, it extends with TestCase only. In the second article of this series, I will explain Assertions, data providers and other features in some details. If you have a question or would like to contribute to the discussion, please leave a comment.

Create PHP websites without the worry of server management.

Deploy your PHP app on optimized PHP hosting servers.

About Shahroze Nawaz

Shahroze is a PHP Community Manager at Cloudways – A Managed PHP Hosting Platform. He’s always in search of new frameworks and methods to implement them. Besides his coding life, he loves movies and playing soccer with friends. You can email him at

Stay Connected:

You Might Also Like...