Symfony2: running PHPUnit from within a controller

Posted on by Matthias Noback

This article is deprecated. I don't think it's a good idea to run your unit tests in a controller.

When you don't have access to the command-line of your webserver, it may be nice to still run all your unit tests; so you need a way to execute the phpunit command from within a controller. This way, you can call your test suite by browsing to a URL of your site. To do things right, we start with a "test" controller /web/app_test.php containing these lines of code:

if (!in_array(@$_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'], array(
))) {
    header('HTTP/1.0 403 Forbidden');
    exit('You are not allowed to access this file. Check '.basename(__FILE__).' for more information.');

require_once __DIR__.'/../app/bootstrap.php.cache';
require_once __DIR__.'/../app/AppKernel.php';

use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;

$kernel = new AppKernel('test', true);

In fact, just copy everything from /web/app_dev.php but replace the string "dev" by "test".

This will enable you to run the site in a "test" environment, using for example your "test" database connection and what not.

Then create a route for our "runTests" action. Do this in /app/config/routing_test.yml, so the tests can only be run from the "test" environment. The new routing_test.yml contains these routes:

    pattern: /demo/run-tests/{filterClass}
    defaults: { _controller: AcmeDemoBundle:Demo:runTests, filterClass: null } 

    resource: routing.yml

The extra query parameter "filterClass" will allow us (in a few moments) to filter the tests to run, so we don't have to run the complete test suite all the time.

Make sure routing_test.yml gets loaded from config_test.yml, by adding a "routing" option to the "framework" section of this file:

    router:   { resource: "%kernel.root_dir%/config/routing_test.yml" }

In the DemoController of the AcmeDemoBundle, we create the action "runTests". In this action, we put the following code (for a start):

public function runTestsAction($filterClass = null)
    // make sure PHPUnit is autoloaded

    set_time_limit(0); // make the script execution time unlimited (otherwise the request may time out)

    // change the current directory to the place where phpunit.xml(.dist) can be found

    ob_end_clean(); // cleans and ends existing output buffering

    echo '<pre>';

    // simulate an array of command line arguments
    $argv = array();
    if ($filterClass !== null) {
        array_push($argv, '--filter', $filterClass);

    $_SERVER['argv'] = $argv;

    \PHPUnit_TextUI_Command::main(false); // true means: exit

    echo '</pre>';


This will result in good old PHPUnit to run inside your browser (see it for yourself at /app_test.php/demo/run-tests)! It is all quite basic (actually: not basic enough, since by default color coding is turned "on", which results in ugly characters all over your code). So in my next post, I will show you how to make things a bit better for HTML output, by creating a custom ResultPrinter. In this post, we will also look into the problem of output buffering; calling PHPUnit from within the controller means your output will be buffered by default, so you won't see any progress, until all tests are done.

PHP Testing Symfony2 PHPUnit controller
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Might be an interesting addition to LiipFunctionalTestBundle


man the next post is the killer one, thanks a lot!

besides being silly testing on prod code, I wonder if rather the application can become for use cases where one needs to monitor processes and examine code right on the server. Hmm I am trying to think of good apps.