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CakePHP Testing

CakePHP Testing

CakePHP is an object-oriented, open-source PHP framework used for rapidly developing applications. It uses the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architectural pattern for development. MVC offers a strict yet natural separation between business logic, data, and presentation layers. By following CakePHP’s conventions for basic organizational structure, you can avoid unnecessary configuration and make a uniform application structure that makes it easy to work with various projects. Moreover, the convention over the configuration paradigm is beneficial in the long run, freeing up time and energy for focusing on logic building for the application. CakePHP offers some great features: a good caching framework, powerful code generation tools, and an integrated testing framework.

Applications built using CakePHP can be tested using the following techniques:

Unit Testing

As the testing pyramid suggests, unit testing is a crucial part of the testing process. With unit tests, you can check whether each method or each unit in the code is working as expected - and it's the first testing layer. CakePHP comes with built-in support for the PHPUnit framework. CakePHP provides extra features that facilitate testing in addition to the functionalities provided by PHPUnit to make testing easier. You can install PHPUnit either through the PHAR package or the composer. When it comes to writing tests in the CakePHP framework, there are some conventions you need to follow. First, to organize PHP files containing tests, it is recommended to place them in the tests/TestCase/[Type] directories. It's important to note that the filenames of these files must end in Test.php instead of just .php. Next, the test classes should extend either Cake\TestSuite\TestCase, Cake\TestSuite\IntegrationTestCase, or \PHPUnit\Framework\TestCase. The classnames of test cases should match the filenames. For instance, RouterTest.php should contain class RouterTest extends TestCase. Additionally, any method that contains a test (i.e. an assertion) should start with a test, such as testPublished(). Alternatively, you can also use the @test annotation to indicate which methods are test methods.
Here is an example of a unit test for a simple helper method for formatting the progress bar. The method is as follows:
namespace App\View\Helper;

use Cake\View\Helper;
class ProgressHelper extends Helper
  public function bar($value)
    $width = round($value / 100, 2) * 100;
    return sprintf(
      '<div class="progress-container">
        <div class="progress-bar" style="width: %s%%"></div>
      </div>', $width);
The unit test will look something like this:
namespace App\Test\TestCase\View\Helper;

use App\View\Helper\ProgressHelper;
use Cake\TestSuite\TestCase;
use Cake\View\View;

class ProgressHelperTest extends TestCase
  public function setUp(): void
    $View = new View();
    $this->Progress = new ProgressHelper($View);
  public function testBar(): void
    $result = $this->Progress->bar(90);
    $this->assertStringContainsString('width: 90%', $result);
    $this->assertStringContainsString('progress-bar', $result);
    $result = $this->Progress->bar(33.3333333);
    $this->assertStringContainsString('width: 33%', $result);
In the above example, the setUp() method is used to initialize the objects required for the test along with any other configurations that might be needed. Each test should have this method. Thus you can see how a unit test helps determine if the method gives us the desired output for a known set of inputs. You can easily achieve this using assertions. Additionally, you can utilize other methods that help with the test case lifecycle, like setUp(), tearDown(), setupBeforeClass(), and tearDownAfterClass(). You can read more about their usage here. You can run your tests using the commands shown here, depending on how you installed PHPUnit. Also, you can generate code coverage reports using the commands mentioned here.

Integration Testing

These test cases target scenarios involving database integrations, file systems, network infrastructure, or other UI components. As opposed to unit tests, here you do not need to mock dependent methods, data, or services. You can write integration tests using the PHPUnit framework, but let's also take a look at some of CakePHP's offerings.

Testing controllers

Though you can test controllers the same way you would test helpers, models, and components, you can instead utilize the IntegrationTestTrait for controller integration testing. Most likely, when you test your controller, it will also exercise any components, models, and helpers that would be involved in completing that request.
Below is a sample controller for which we will see a test using IntegrationTestTrait.
namespace App\Controller;

use App\Controller\AppController;

class ArticlesController extends AppController
  public $helpers = ['Form', 'Html'];
  public function index($short = null)
    if ($this->request->is('post')) {
      $article = $this->Articles->newEntity($this->request->getData());
      if ($this->Articles->save($article)) {
        // Redirect as per PRG pattern
        return $this->redirect(['action' => 'index']);
    if (!empty($short)) {
      $result = $this->Articles->find('all', [
          'fields' => ['id', 'title']
    } else {
      $result = $this->Articles->find()->all();
      'title' => 'Articles',
      'articles' => $result
The integration test case would look something like this for the above controller.
namespace App\Test\TestCase\Controller;

use Cake\TestSuite\IntegrationTestTrait;
use Cake\TestSuite\TestCase;

class ArticlesControllerTest extends TestCase
  use IntegrationTestTrait;
  protected $fixtures = ['app.Articles'];
  public function testIndex(): void
    // More asserts.

  public function testIndexQueryData(): void
    // More asserts.

  public function testIndexShort(): void
    // More asserts.

  public function testIndexPostData(): void
    $data = [
      'user_id' => 1,
      'published' => 1,
      'slug' => 'new-article',
      'title' => 'New Article',
      'body' => 'New Body'
    $this->post('/articles', $data);
    $articles = $this->getTableLocator()->get('Articles');
    $query = $articles->find()->where(['title' => $data['title']]);
    $this->assertEquals(1, $query->count());
With such test cases, you need to dispatch the request first before you write any assertions. The assertions can be from PHPUnit or IntegrationTestTrait. Here are some examples of assertions provided by IntegrationTestTrait. You can read further about controller integration testing here.

Testing Plugins

CakePHP lets you create plugins, a combination of models, views, and controllers. You can reuse these plugins in your other projects as well. So now you can create your own methods while using other plugins in your application. You need to load the plugins into your test methods to test them along with your other methods, as shown here. However, if you intend to create tests just for plugins, you need to create them in the plugins directory. Refer to this section to see how to create tests for a plugin. Since applications tend to contain a large number of plugins, executing tests for each of them individually might be cumbersome. During such times you might want to segregate them into test suites.

Testing with fixtures

If your tests require the same data and have a dependency on the same model, you can use fixtures to reduce the repetitive steps of initializing the same data before every test case. Fixtures are ideal for data that is common between tests. The utilization of the "test" connection specified in the config/app.php configuration file is necessary for CakePHP. Failure to utilize this connection may result in an exception being raised, preventing the use of database fixtures. If you have test-specific data, it is better to create it in specific tests as needed. At the start of a test run, the schema for fixtures is generated either through migrations or a SQL dump file. You can use CakePHP's migrations plugin to create and manage your application's schema. Make sure to check if your phpunit.xml file contains the fixtures extension before you start using fixtures. Once you have created fixtures, you need to load them in your test cases. For doing so, you can use the $fixtures property. With the newer versions of CakePHP, you can use getFixtures() to define your fixture list. You can also load fixtures from CakePHP core or plugins.

Console integration testing

CakePHP offers built-in commands for aiding with speeding up the development and automation of routine tasks. Using these libraries, you can also create commands for your own applications. When it comes to testing these console applications, CakePHP offers ConsoleIntegrationTestTrait to help with testing and asserting these applications.

End-to-End Testing

From a business perspective, end-to-end testing is an exceptionally important piece of the software testing process. In this approach, the entire software application is evaluated to validate that it meets the specified requirements and functions correctly as a complete system. It involves testing the application from the user's perspective, simulating real-world scenarios, and checking the integration of various components, such as software modules, databases, APIs, and user interfaces.
Let's take a look at a few tools to perform end-to-end testing.
  • Using CakePHP's IntegrationTestTrait
  • Selenium-based tools
  • testRigor

CakePHP's IntegrationTestTrait

Testing HTML code directly is not advisable since UI keeps evolving, and maintaining these tests is a huge overheard due to their fragile nature. CakePHP's IntegrationTestTrait provides a way for you to inspect the rendered view content by setting the return option to 'view'. However, a more robust and manageable way of checking the view or UI of the application is by using other end-to-end testing tools.

Selenium-based tools for end-to-end testing

Selenium is a widely used tool for end-to-end automation testing. Its web drivers allow manipulating the browser easily. Though it is a popular choice, it comes with its limitations.

testRigor for end-to-end testing

With no-code and AI gaining momentum in the software testing industry, you have competent options such as testRigor. It is a powerful cloud-based end-to-end functional testing tool. This AI-driven solution gives you the advantage of having easy maintenance of your test suites, not worrying about XPaths thanks to its ability to identify an element through relative locations, and the ability to write test scripts in plain English. What's more, this tool comes with many features like email and SMS text testing, SQL testing, easy table content testing, and API testing, to name a few of its features. testRigor also supports visual testing wherein you can directly compare screens and brand their variances based on severity. Besides these capabilities, testRigor also integrates with a handful of tools for test management, CI/CD, and issue management tools. You can read more about the capabilities of this tool here.
Below is an example of how you can use testRigor to write database queries.
run sql query "select top 1 UserID, LastName, FirstName from Users;"
open url "https://www.pivotalaccessibility.com/enroll"
enter stored value  "FirstName" into "First Name"
check that stored value "LastName" itself contains "Jack Smith"
run sql query "insert into Users(UserID, FirstName, LastName) values (11, 'Riya', 'Jones');"
Here's another example of using testRigor to write a test for table data.
login and navigate to dashboard //predefined rule
click on "column-group-container"
check if the page contains "multi-selector-power-table column-group-align"
click on "k-multiselect-wrap k-floatwrap"
type "enrollment activity" in "Column group"
check if the page contains "clear-columns-button"
click on "clear-columns-button"


CakePHP is a good option for PHP developers and has a lot to offer in terms of packages and plugins. Its convention over configuration policy makes it easier to avoid getting caught up in setting up too many configurations. Using the best testing practices of combining the unit, integration, and end-to-end testing techniques, you can develop a strong quality control process to ensure a high quality application.