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Unit and Integration Testing

For behaviour testing in SilverStripe, check out SilverStripe Behat Documentation.


The SilverStripe core contains various features designed to simplify the process of creating and managing automated tests.

SilverStripe uses PHPUnit for unit tests, and the framework contains features to simplify the process of creating and managing tests.

If you're more familiar with unit testing, but want a refresher of some of the concepts and terminology, you can browse the Testing Glossary. To get started now, follow the installation instructions below, and check Troubleshooting in case you run into any problems.

If you are familiar with PHP coding but new to unit testing then check out Mark's presentation Getting to Grips with SilverStripe Testing.

Why Unit Test? will give you reasons why you should be testing your code.

You should also read over the PHPUnit manual. It provides a lot of fundamental concepts that we build on in this documentation.

Unit tests are not included in the normal SilverStripe downloads so you need to install them through git repositories (installation instructions).

Install with Composer

Once you've got your project up and running, open a terminal and cd to your project root.

composer require --dev "phpunit/phpunit:*@stable"

This will install PHPUnit dependency, which is the framework we're building our unit tests on. Composer installs it alongside the required PHP classes into the vendor/bin/ directory.

Symlinking the PHPUnit Binary

You can either use PHPUnit through its full path (vendor/bin/phpunit), or symlink it into the root directory of your website:

ln -s vendor/bin/phpunit phpunit



The phpunit executable can be configured by command line 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.

Note: This doesn't apply for running tests through the "sake" wrapper

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).

Database Permissions

SilverStripe tests create thier own database when they are run. Because of this the database user in your config file should have the appropriate permissions to create new databases on your server, otherwise tests will not run.

Writing Tests

Tests are written by creating subclasses of SapphireTest. You should put tests for your site in the mysite/tests directory. If you are writing tests for a module, put them in the (modulename)/tests directory.

Generally speaking, there should be one test class for each application class. The name of the test class should be the application class, with "Test" as a suffix. For instance, we have all the tests for SiteTree in framework/tests/SiteTreeTest.php

You will generally write two different kinds of test classes.

  • Unit Test: Test the behaviour of one of your DataObjects.
  • Functional Test: Test the behaviour of one of your controllers.

Tutorials and recipes for creating tests using the SilverStripe framework:

Running Tests

Via the "phpunit" Binary on Command Line

The phpunit binary should be used from the root directory of your website.

# Runs all tests defined in phpunit.xml
# Run all tests of a specific module
phpunit framework/tests/
# Run specific tests within a specific module
phpunit framework/tests/filesystem
# Run a specific test
phpunit framework/tests/filesystem/FolderTest.php
# Run tests with optional `$_GET` parameters (you need an empty second argument)
phpunit framework/tests '' flush=all

All command-line arguments are documented on

Via the "sake" Wrapper on Command Line

The sake executable that comes with SilverStripe can trigger a customized TestRunner class that handles the PHPUnit configuration and output formatting. While the custom test runner a handy tool, its also more limited than using phpunit directly, particularly around formatting test output.

# Run all tests
sake dev/tests/all
# Run all tests of a specific module (comma-separated)
sake dev/tests/module/framework,cms
# Run specific tests (comma-separated)
sake dev/tests/FolderTest,OtherTest
# Run tests with optional `$_GET` parameters
sake dev/tests/all flush=all
# Skip some tests
sake dev/tests/all SkipTests=MySkippedTest

Via Web Browser

Executing tests from the command line is recommended, since it most closely reflects test runs in any automated testing environments. However, you can also run tests through the browser (requires PHPUnit version 3.7.*@stable):