Running Automated Tests for the Joomla CMS

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As of February 2010, a tests folder has been added to the Joomla! SVN download. This folder contains a growing library of unit and system (or functional) tests. The unit tests use PHPUnit and the system tests use PHPUnit and Selenium. The unit tests perform tests primarily on the Joomla! framework. The Selenium system tests actually run Joomla! from a browser and test it as a user would.

Before you can run the tests, you need to install some programs on your local workstation, as documented below. This document explains how to run the these tests from your local workstation.

Install PHPUnit

Both the unit and functional tests rely on PHPUnit. PHPUnit is a testing framework that requires PHP to be installed on the local workstation. XAMP / WAMP users can use the PHP installation that comes with them. Otherwise, you may need to install PHP, and the PEAR package, on your local workstation. More detailed instructions can be found at

On most PHP installations, PNPUnit can be installed using the standard PEAR installation process.

For example, on XAMPP version 1.7.3 on Windows, you would do the following commands:

  • cd c:\xampp\php
  • pear channel-discover
  • pear channel-discover
  • pear install phpunit/PHPUnit

If you get error about PEAR version too low, run:

  • pear upgrade pear

and repeat pear install phpunit/PHPUnit . Windows users not using WAMP or XAMPP can use the same procedure, with substituting the location of your PHP installation for cd c:\xampp\php.

In Ubuntu Linux, use the following commands to install PHPUnit:

  • $sudo pear channel-discover
  • $sudo pear channel-discover
  • $sudo pear install phpunit/PHPUnit

More detailed instructions can be found here:

Running Unit Tests

Once PHPUnit is installed, you can run the unit tests. To run a unit test from the command line:

  1. Change to the folder <joomla root>/tests/unit
  2. Execute the command phpunit <test name or folder>

For example, to execute the test called "tests\unit\suite\libraries\joomla\utilities\JStringTest.php", you would type the command

  • phpunit tests\unit\suite\libraries\joomla\utilities\JStringTest.php

When you run this, you will see output similar to the following:

C:\xampp\htdocs\joomla_development\j16_trunk\tests\unit>phpunit suite\libraries\
PHPUnit 3.4.11 by Sebastian Bergmann.

............................................................ 60 / 89

Time: 26 seconds, Memory: 7.00Mb

OK (89 tests, 89 assertions)

The dots indicate a successful test. If you have errors or failures, they will show as "E" or "F" letters and a detailed message for each will show.

You can execute all of the tests in a folder by specifying a folder instead of a file. For example, to run all of the tests in the folder "tests\unit\suite\libraries\joomla\utilities", you would enter

  • phpunit tests\unit\suite\libraries\joomla\utilities

This command will produce output similar to that shown below:

C:\xampp\htdocs\joomla_development\j16_trunk\tests\unit>phpunit suite\libraries\
PHPUnit 3.4.11 by Sebastian Bergmann.

............................................................  60 / 317
............................................................ 120 / 317
............................................................ 180 / 317
............................................................ 240 / 317
............................................................ 300 / 317

Time: 27 seconds, Memory: 11.00Mb

There were 4 failures:

1) JUtilityTest::testGetHash
Failed asserting that two strings are equal.
--- Expected
+++ Actual
@@ @@

2) JUtilityTest::testGetToken with data set "default" (NULL, false)
Failed asserting that <string:adca734617ce829cc979492d6d037416> matches expected

3) JUtilityTest::testGetToken with data set "false" (false, false)
Failed asserting that <string:adca734617ce829cc979492d6d037416> matches expected

4) JUtilityTest::testGetToken with data set "true" (true, true)
Expectation failed for method name is equal to <string:getFormToken> when invoke
d 1 time(s).
Method was expected to be called 1 times, actually called 0 times.

Tests: 317, Assertions: 361, Failures: 4.

In this case, we have 4 test failures with details about each.

System Tests

Before you can run the system tests, you need to install and set up the Selenium RC package and configure your test environment, as shown below.

Install Selenium RC

Selenium RC is the package that allows you to run Selenium tests from PHP or other programming languages. To install it, just go to the Selenium site and download the package. Then unzip the file into a folder.

For example, in Windows if you create a folder called C:\selenium and unzip this file there, it will create a folder called selenium-server-1.0.1. In that folder, create a Windows bat file (such as selenium.bat though the name does not matter) or Linux shell script that runs the following command:

java -jar selenium-server.jar -browserSessionReuse

If the Java executable is not on your path, then you will need to indicate the full path to it, like the following:

c:\program files (x86)\Java\jre6\bin\java.exe" -jar selenium-server.jar -browserSessionReuse

Note the argument browserSessionReuse is used to allow you to run multiple tests without closing and re-opening the browser each time. Save this file so you can easily find and execute it when needed.

This program needs to be running in the background before you can run any Selenium functional tests.

If You are using Firefox 3.6.x you will run in problems with this configuration. Check out this link: how to get it working on Firefox 3.6.x.

Create a Selenium Configuration File

To run the Selenium tests, we have to tell Selenium how to navigate and login to your local Joomla! installation. This is done by creating a PHP file called configdef.php. The Joomla! download includes a file called tests/system/servers/config-def.php-dist. This is a sample file that you can use to create the real file. Copy this file to a file called tests/system/servers/configdef.php and edit it to reflect your test systems configuration. There are comments in the file that tell you how to do this.

Run the System Test Suite

At this point, we are ready to actually run the tests. There are two steps to running a test. First, you need to make sure the Selenium RC process is running in the background. To do this, just execute the command (bat file or shell script) you created when you installed Selenium RC. This will continue to run until you cancel it.

Once Selenium RC is running, you need to execute the functional tests. There are several ways you can do this.

To run all tests from the command line in Windows, change to the tests/system folder and run the following command (the phpunit.bat file comes from the PHPUnit installation):

phpunit.bat --bootstrap servers\configdef.php suite\TestSuite.php

In Linux, the command is:

phpunit --bootstrap servers/configdef.php suite/TestSuite.php

This will run all of the tests in the TestSuite.php file. You should see a series of messages display in the console telling you what tests are being run and what the tests are doing. You should also see two browser windows open. One will display Selenium commands that are being executed. The other will show the Joomla! website and the various screens that are being opened and closed as the tests are run.

The tests will run for a few minutes, depending on the speed of your system. When they are done, you will get a summary display showing how many tests were run and whether there were errors or failures. If there are errors or failures, the line of code from the test program that generated the error or failure will also show.

An error occurs when the test encounters an actual PHP error. A failure occurs when the test gets a result that is different than expected.


  • Make sure you run the tests on a clean database that has been installed with sample data. If you have made database changes, you should re-install Joomla! or otherwise put the database back to it's original post-installed state.
  • If you find errors or failures when you run the tests, you can run the tests against the Joomla! trunk to see if the problems are in trunk or just in your branch.
  • If you maintain more than one local Joomla! project (for example, one for trunk, another for a branch), you will need to make sure to have a configdef.php file for each that has the right path and login information. You can watch the browser window while the tests are running to make sure you are testing the URL that you expect.

Eclipse Users

In Eclipse, you can set up Debug and External Tools launch configurations that make it easy to debug or run unit and system tests.

Run a Unit Test

You can create an External Tools launch configuration that lets you run any unit test simply by pointing to the test file and pressing the Run button. Here are the steps:

  • Open the Run→External Tools→External Tools Configuration menu and press the button labeled "New Launch Configuration".
  • Enter a descriptive name, such as "Run Selected Unit Test".
  • Enter the location that points to your phpunit.bat file (for example, c:\xampp\php\phpunit.bat).
  • Set the Working Directory to ${project_loc}\tests\unit
  • Set the arguments to c:\xampp\php\phpunit --verbose "${resource_loc}".

This is shown in the screenshot below.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100405-01.png

To run a unit test:

  1. Select a unit test, either by selecting it in the PHP Explorer view or in the edit area of Eclipse.
  2. Run the External Launch configuration by selecting it from the drop-down list next to the External Launch Configuration button in the toolbar (shown below).

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-01.png

Note that a test might normally take a 30-60 seconds to run. The output of the test will show in the Eclipse console.

Run All Tests in a Folder

You can run all of the unit tests in a folder using this same launch configuration. Just select a folder instead of a test file and all of the unit tests in that folder will run.

Setting Up For Debugging

Make Sure XDebug is Installed

As you would expect, XDebug must be installed and configured for use with Eclipse. See Setting_up_your_workstation_for_Joomla!_development#Edit_PHP.INI_File for detailed instructions.

Add PEAR Library to Workspace

Before you can debug a unit or system test, you have to add the PEAR library to your project or workspace. In this example, we will add PEAR to our workspace. That way, all projects will automatically have access to PHPUnit.

Here are the steps:

  • Select Window→Preferences→PHP→PHP Libraries.
  • Press the New button and add PEAR as shown below. Be sure to press the checkbox labeled "Add to environment".

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-01a.png

  • Press OK, then press the Add External folder button and browse to your PEAR folder, as shown below. In this example, the folder is in c:\xampp\php\PEAR.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-01b.png

  • Press OK and the screen should show the external folder, as shown below, with the correct file path for your workstation.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-01c.png

Configure the PHP Executable

Normally, you will want to debug unit and system tests as PHP scripts (as opposed to web pages). Before you can do this, you need to configure a PHP Executable in Eclipse. This is done as follows:

  • Select Window→Preferences→PHP→PHP Executables. The screen below will show.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-05.png

  • Press Add and complete the screen as shown below, substituting the correct file paths for your workstation.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-06.png

At this point, your workstation is set up for PHPUnit debugging. Now you just have to create the debug configurations as shown in the next section.

Debug a Single Unit Test

Once you have PEAR added to your libraries, it is easy to set up a debug configuration that allows you to debug any unit test. Here are the steps:

  • Press the drop-down arrow next to the Debug button and select Debug Configurations from the menu, as shown below.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-02.png

  • Fill out the PHP Script tab of the Debug Configurations as shown below.
    • Name: a descriptive name like "Debug Selected Unit Test"
    • PHP Debugger: XDebug
    • PHP Executable: The one you set up earlier (there will only be one)
    • PHP File: Use the Browse button to browse to the phpunit.php file in your tests/system folder.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-10.png

  • Select the PHP Script Arguments tab and enter --verbose ${selected_resource_loc} as shown below.
    • The "--verbose" option allows you to see more details when the tests are run.
    • The "${selected_resource_loc}" passes the currently selected file at runtime, so you can use this configuration just by selecting the desired file and then running it.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-11.png

  • Finally, select the Common tab and check the Debug checkbox under "Display in favorites menu", as shown below.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-09a.png

At this point, you are ready to debug any unit test. All you need to do is:

  1. Select the desired test file either in the PHP Explorer view or in the editor.
  2. Select Debug Configurations from the Debug drop-down button and select the "Debug Selected Unit Test" option. Once you have run this once, it will show on your Debug favorites menu.

Run a Single System Test

You can create a configuration to make it easy to run any single test in your project. To do this:

  • open the Run→External Tools→External Tools Configuration menu and press the button labeled "New Launch Configuration"
  • enter the location that points to your phpunit.bat file (for example, c:\xampp\php\phpunit.bat).
  • set the Working Directory to ${project_loc}\tests\system
  • set the arguments to --bootstrap servers\configdef.php ${selected_resource_loc}.

This is shown in the screenshot below.

Selenium tutorial screenshot 20100211.png

To use this configuration,

  1. make sure the Selenium RC process is running (for example, by running the "selenium.bat" file you created when you installed Selenium RC earlier)
  2. select the desired test file by clicking on it in the PHP Explorer view or in the edit area
  3. start this launch configuration

The selected test file will be run and you will see the browser session open and run the test script. The test results will be reported in the Eclipse console.

Debug a Single System Test

Run the System Test Suite

To create a launch configuration to run the Test Suite of the currently-selected Eclipse project:

  • Enter the location that points to your phpunit.bat file. If you are running Linux, this file might be called phpunit.
  • Set the Working Directory to ${project_loc}/tests\system
  • Set the arguments to --bootstrap servers/configdef.php suite/TestSuite.php.

This is shown in the screenshot below.

Unit test tutorial screenshot 20100406-15.png

The console output will show in the Eclipse console. Note that you still need to have the Selenium RC program running in the background first, before running the suite. Note that you need to select a file in the current project before running this command so the {project_loc} variable is set correctly.