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I am a PHP and JavaScript Developer and Head of Tech at a communications agency in London. I also built Twitter's largest anti-bot app.

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Set Up PHPUnit From Scratch

January 04, 2018 Home > Blogs > Set Up PHPUnit From Scratch Author: Rob Waller Tags: testing, tests, unit tests, phpunit, php

Writing unit tests with PHPUnit is a great way to improve your code and your applications. With many modern PHP frameworks, like Laravel, PHPUnit comes built in so writing and running tests is really easy.

Sometimes though you won’t need or want to run a framework like Laravel as you are writing a simple app that doesn’t need all that ‘functionality’. However it’s always sensible to write unit tests to check your application logic. Without a framework this will mean you need to setup PHPUnit from scratch.

Sadly there isn’t a great deal of good documentation on how to do this, so I’m going to note down how to do it for my own reference and yours.

First you will need to install PHPUnit by adding it to your composer.json file. Remember always add it to require-dev as there is no need for PHPUnit to exist or run in production.

"require-dev": {
    "phpunit/phpunit": "~6.0",
    "mockery/mockery": "~1.0"

You can also add in a mocking tool like Mockery if you wish to extend the capability of your tests. Once you have installed PHPUnit by running composer install or composer update you will need to configure it by creating a phpunit.xml file. An example configuration is shown below.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <testsuite name="Testing Example">

There are two important configuration options.

  • bootstrap="./vendor/autoload.php" defines how to autoload files and classes. You will usually use the built in composer autoloader.
  • <directory>./tests</directory> defines where your test files will exists. This will not always be the ./tests directory but usually it is.

Finally you will need to create a test file ./tests/ExampleTest.php to check it all works.


namespace Tests;

use PHPUnit\Framework\TestCase;

class ExampleTest extends TestCase
    public function testExample()
        $var1 = true;


It’s relatively stright forward, you just extend the PHPUnit TestCase class and write a test function testExample including an assertion. Note, all test functions must begin with the keyword test.

Finally you can run vendor/bin/phpunit and you should see the following output…

PHPUnit 6.5.5 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.

.                                                                   1 / 1 (100%)

Time: 132 ms, Memory: 4.00MB

OK (1 test, 1 assertion)

Simple, I hope this helps. If you have any questions or pointers message me on Twitter @RobDWaller.