Working with Propel’s Test Suite

    Propel uses PHPUnit to test the build and runtime frameworks.

    You can find the unit test classes and support files in the tests/ directory.

    Tests that need a database run on at least one of MySQL, Postgres or SQLite.

    Setup requirements

    To run tests, the required PHP libraries need to be installed. Also, most tests will need access to at least one database system (out of MySQL, Postgres or SQLite) through PHP.

    Setup PHP

    You need to install the following PHP extensions:

    • php-mysql
    • php-sqlite3
    • php-pgsql

    Running tests needs more memory than regular PHP scripts. If cli runs out of memory, increase memory_limit in your php.ini:

    memory_limit = 512M

    Set a default timezone in your php.ini:

    date.timezone = Europe/Berlin

    InfoAll following commands need to be executed in the propel root directory.

    Install Dependencies

    Install composer and download dependencies with

    $ composer install

    Setup the Database

    To setup the database, call the script matching your DBMS in ./tests/bin/:


    Call them like any shell script:


    They will drop and recreate the required databases/schemas (test, second_hand_books, contest, bookstore_schemas, migration) and build Propel connection and model classes.

    For MySQL and Postgres, setup parameters are provided through environment variables:

    Variable Description Default Value MySQL Default Value Postgres
    DB_HOSTNAME Database host
    DB_PORT Database port default port (3306) default port (5432)
    DB_USER Username root postgres
    DB_PW Password none none
    DB_NAME Database name test postgres

    In MySQL DB_NAME only changes the name of the main database, the other databases (second_hand_books, contest, bookstore_schemas, migration) will always be created with default names.

    INFO Username and password are used to both create the database and schemas and run the tests. Make sure the user can create and drop databases and schemas.


    DB_HOSTNAME= DB_USER=nonroot DB_PW=topsecret ./tests/bin/
    DB_HOSTNAME= DB_USER=postgres DB_PW=secret ./tests/bin/
    ./tests/bin/ #does not have any configuration ability

    The SQLite test database is located at ./tests/test.sq3, running the setup script will delete that file.

    Rebuilt Test Fixtures

    If you need to rebuild the test fixtures created during setup, delete the file ./tests/Fixtures/fixtures_built and the classes will be created again next time a test is started.

    Running Tests

    Run the test suits through the corresponding composer scripts:

    composer test:agnostic
    composer test:mysql
    composer test:pgsql
    composer test:sqlite

    Composer passes on all arguments after a double dash (--) to phpunit. This allows you to run individual files:

    composer test:mysql -- --stop-on-failure tests/Propel/Tests/Runtime/ActiveQuery/CriteriaTest.php

    Agnostic Tests vs Database tests

    Simple unit tests do not require a database. These are called agnostic tests and are run on their own. Agnostic tests are not executed when running database tests and vice versa.

    Tests are considered agnostic tests unless they are annotated by the @group database annotation. If the test is intended for a specific database, add the mysql or pgsql group:

     * @group database
     * @group mysql
    class MyClassTest extends TestCase

    If you run a test class and phpunit reports No tests executed!, most likely it is an agnostic test run as a database test or the other way round:

    $ composer test:agnostic -- tests/Propel/Tests/Runtime/ActiveQuery/CriteriaTest.php
    Tests started in temp /tmp.
    PHPUnit 9.5.26 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.
    No tests executed!

    Writing Tests

    How Tests Work

    If you have not worked with tests before, now is the best time to look at a short introduction.

    • Test class names must end with “Test” and extend a TestCase class, i.e. MyClassTest extends TestCase.
    • Test functions must start with “test”, i.e. testMyClassBehavior().
    • setUp() and tearDown() methods run before and after each test function respectively.
    • Assertion functions test if an expected value matches the actual outcome (see available assertions).
    • Data providers allow you to run test functions with different input.


    • Test cases should not depend on modifications made by a previous test.
    • A test function should validate exactly one condition.
    • Writing test cases should follow the same guidelines as writing other code.

    Directory structure

    Test classes are located in ./tests/Propel/Tests/. The precise location should mirror the location of the tested class, i.e. ./src/Propel/Runtime/ActiveQuery/Criteria.php is tested in ./tests/Propel/Tests/Runtime/ActiveQuery/CriteriaTest.php.

    If you have changed a class rather than created a new one, you most likely will not have to create a new test class, but add tests to the one at the expected location.

    Using the correct TestCase class

    Depending on the functionality needed, a test class needs to extend the correct TestCase class. These classes will setup and tear down the environment and provide additional functionality.

    INFO If the extended TestCase class uses the database, the test class has to be annotated with @group database.

    Most common classes are:

    Class needs @database Description Used for
    \Propel\Tests\TestCase no Most general Propel test case with easy access to driver and platform data. Agnostic tests without model access.
    \Propel\Tests\TestCaseFixtures no Guarantees that fixtures are available. Agnostic tests which use models without reading from or writing to database.
    \Propel\Tests\TestCaseFixturesDatabase yes Same as TestCaseFixtures but also initializes database tables. Database access outside of model classes.
    \Propel\Tests\Helpers\Bookstore\BookstoreTestBase yes Initializes connection to bookstore test database. Model classes with database access.

    INFO Always extend the TestCase matching required functionality, as it will reduce execution time.

    More Tips

    phpunit --stop-on-failure

    Stops on first failure so you don’t have to wait until the whole test suite is done.

    phpunit --group test

    Execute only a subset of test methods that have @group test annotation. Example:

     * This tests tests the whole world.
     * @group test
    public function testWholeWorld(){}

    This is very handy if you’re trying to fix or write one particular set of test methods and need to execute it again and again.

    Automatic code checks

    If you plan to create a pull request, your code must pass automatic code checks.

    Stan and Psalm

    Run static analyzers stan and psalm through composer scripts:

    composer stan
    composer psalm

    Code style

    You can fix code style before creating a PR using PHP_CodeSniffer and the provided project configuration.

    composer cs-fix # automatically adjusts formatting
    composer cs-check # output remaining errors

    Add -- to process individual files:

    composer cs-fix -- src/Propel/Generator/

    Combine with other commands for easy execution, i.e. lint all modified files with:

    composer cs-fix -- $(git ls-files -m)