Acceptance part of Gentry

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Date: github

Acceptance tests for the Gentry test framework

One notch up from integration tests, acceptance tests should test your entire application. That means actually using a web browser for most web applications.

One could argue that a CLI test is also a form of an acceptance test, with the command line acting as a stand-in for a browser. Semantics, semantics...

Gentry is written in PHP which (duh) gets compiled on the server. Websites consist of HTML, CSS and Javascript. Hence, you'll need a headless browser like PhantomJS to run your acceptance tests.


Install the acceptance module:

composer require --dev gentry/acceptance

This will also install the PhantomJS headless browser, which requires the PHP BZ2 module. It's listed as a dependency, so Composer will complain if you don't have it already.

Add the following to (the root of) your application's composer.json:

"scripts": {
    "post-install-cmd": [
    "post-update-cmd": [

You could also call this manually, but this is handy. Run composer update. The phantomjs binary is now installed into your vendor/bin directory. Create a bin directory in your application's root if you don't have one yet, and symlink the executable there.

This is needed due to an apparent bug in the PhpPhantomJs package. It's supposed to get its location from Composer, only it seems to be hardcoded.

Note that the PhantomInstaller requires PHP's BZ2 module (its composer.json doesn't explicitly state that, without it the installation will fail with no meaningful error message).

Preparing your project

Your project needs to be made Gentry-aware. For regular tests we did that via the getenv('GENTRY') check; for HTTP calls it is similar. Gentry's browser passes these variables in headers, and they are thus available as $_SERVER['HTTP_GENTRY_something'] entries in the server superglobal.

In a central place - this can be any place depending on your project, as long as you're 100% sure every called page will run that bit of code - place a check for these headers and make sure your application understands it's running in test mode if they're set.

So, in test mode, use a mock database etc.

Writing an acceptance test

To write these tests, we'll make use of the Gentry\Acceptance\Browser object. This is a wrapper around PHP PhantomJS with some convenience methods.


class Test
     * Going to grab an external page
    public function getAPage()
        $browser = new Gentry\Acceptance\Browser;
        yield asset($browser->get('')->getStatus() == 200);

The get and post methods on the Browser return a "response" object. This tells us stuff about the page we just retrieved, like the HTTP status code we were checking in this example. You can also get the full page contents, inspect all headers etc. See the PHP PhantomJS API documentation for all options.

Sessions and cookies

PhantomJS (and, therefore, the Gentry Browser) can also handle sessions (so you can test stuff like logging in and performing restricted operations).

While we could have jumped through hoops and tried to read the session ID actually set by a request, we chose to "fixate" the required session ID instead on the Browser object. This is much more convenient for a number of reasons:

  1. It's simpler, to begin with - no parsing of cookie jars.
  2. You have complete control over sessions.
  3. You don't have to do an extra request before POSTing to a restricted page to first get the ID, perform a login etc.
  4. Even better: assuming you have access to the session data, since you can know the ID in advance you can setup a logged in user!

To use sessions you'll need the additional gentry/cache package:

$ composer require --dev gentry/cache

When you construct the Browser object you can pass an optional $sessionid parameter. This is the session ID used:


// ...
$browser = new Gentry\Acceptance\Browser('abcd');
// ...

When passing a custom id, it's up to you to make sure your test script and your online application can somehow access the same session storage. If your application uses database sessions that won't be an issue; if you're using PHP sessions both the CLI tests and the test site instance will need access to the same tmp directory.

Custom session IDs are useful if either your session handler is picky about the format of the session ID, or when testing with multiple users (see below).

To use a custom session name, set the static Browser::$sessionname string to whatever you need. Gentry makes the reasonable assumption that session names are constant within an appliction.

If you don't explicitly set a session ID, chances are your application will try to set one (which Gentry will ignore).

For most applications, a session ID as generated by session_id() will suffice. So as a shorthand, you may pass true as a contructor parameter to use this default.

Testing with multiple concurrent users

A handy propery of the Browser object accepting a random session id is the possibility for an acceptance test to actually test interaction between different users of your application. E.g., user John logs in and sends a message to Mary; when Mary opens her message center, she should see the new message.

An acceptance test with multiple users would be implemented something like this:


// ...
// We let PHP generate random session ids.
$john = new Browser(session_id());
$mary = new Browser(session_id());

// Here you would first make sure both users are logged in; how that mechanism
// works exactly is up to your application of course.

// John sends his message
$response = $john->post('/message/', ['to' => 'Mary', 'body' => 'Hi Mary!']);
yield assert($response->getStatus() == 200);
// Mary opens the message page
$response = $mary->get('/message/');
yield assert(strpos($response->getContent(), 'Unread: 1'));
// Empty mock database, so this message got ID 1
$response = $mary->get('/message/1/');
yield assert(strpos($response->getContent(), 'From: John'));
// Mary read it, so now unread should be 0 again
$response = $mary->get('/message/');
yield assert(strpos($response->getContent(), 'Unread: 0'));
// And finally John would see the message was read:
$response = $john->get('/message/1/');
yield assert(strpos($response->getContent(), 'Status: read'));