GitLab Documentation

Testing PHP projects

This guide covers basic building instructions for PHP projects.

There are covered two cases: testing using the Docker executor and testing using the Shell executor.

Test PHP projects using the Docker executor

While it is possible to test PHP apps on any system, this would require manual configuration from the developer. To overcome this we will be using the official PHP docker image that can be found in Docker Hub.

This will allow us to test PHP projects against different versions of PHP. However, not everything is plug 'n' play, you still need to configure some things manually.

As with every build, you need to create a valid .gitlab-ci.yml describing the build environment.

Let's first specify the PHP image that will be used for the build process (you can read more about what an image means in the Runner's lingo reading about Using Docker images).

Start by adding the image to your .gitlab-ci.yml:

image: php:5.6

The official images are great, but they lack a few useful tools for testing. We need to first prepare the build environment. A way to overcome this is to create a script which installs all prerequisites prior the actual testing is done.

Let's create a ci/ file in the root directory of our repository with the following content:


# We need to install dependencies only for Docker
[[ ! -e /.dockerenv ]] && exit 0

set -xe

# Install git (the php image doesn't have it) which is required by composer
apt-get update -yqq
apt-get install git -yqq

# Install phpunit, the tool that we will use for testing
curl --location --output /usr/local/bin/phpunit
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/phpunit

# Install mysql driver
# Here you can install any other extension that you need
docker-php-ext-install pdo_mysql

You might wonder what docker-php-ext-install is. In short, it is a script provided by the official php docker image that you can use to easilly install extensions. For more information read the the documentation at

Now that we created the script that contains all prerequisites for our build environment, let's add it in .gitlab-ci.yml:


- bash ci/ > /dev/null


Last step, run the actual tests using phpunit:


  - phpunit --configuration phpunit_myapp.xml


Finally, commit your files and push them to GitLab to see your build succeeding (or failing).

The final .gitlab-ci.yml should look similar to this:

# Select image from
image: php:5.6

# Install dependencies
- bash ci/ > /dev/null

  - phpunit --configuration phpunit_myapp.xml

Test against different PHP versions in Docker builds

Testing against multiple versions of PHP is super easy. Just add another job with a different docker image version and the runner will do the rest:

# Install dependencies
- bash ci/ > /dev/null

# We test PHP5.6
  image: php:5.6
  - phpunit --configuration phpunit_myapp.xml

# We test PHP7.0 (good luck with that)
  image: php:7.0
  - phpunit --configuration phpunit_myapp.xml

Custom PHP configuration in Docker builds

There are times where you will need to customise your PHP environment by putting your .ini file into /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/. For that purpose add a before_script action:

- cp my_php.ini /usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/test.ini

Of course, my_php.ini must be present in the root directory of your repository.

Test PHP projects using the Shell executor

The shell executor runs your builds in a terminal session on your server. Thus, in order to test your projects you first need to make sure that all dependencies are installed.

For example, in a VM running Debian 8 we first update the cache, then we install phpunit and php5-mysql:

sudo apt-get update -y
sudo apt-get install -y phpunit php5-mysql

Next, add the following snippet to your .gitlab-ci.yml:

  - phpunit --configuration phpunit_myapp.xml

Finally, push to GitLab and let the tests begin!

Test against different PHP versions in Shell builds

The phpenv project allows you to easily manage different versions of PHP each with its own config. This is specially usefull when testing PHP projects with the Shell executor.

You will have to install it on your build machine under the gitlab-runner user following the upstream installation guide.

Using phpenv also allows to easily configure the PHP environment with:

phpenv config-add my_config.ini

Important note: It seems phpenv/phpenv is abandoned. There is a fork at madumlao/phpenv that tries to bring the project back to life. CHH/phpenv also seems like a good alternative. Picking any of the mentioned tools will work with the basic phpenv commands. Guiding you to choose the right phpenv is out of the scope of this tutorial.

Install custom extensions

Since this is a pretty bare installation of the PHP environment, you may need some extensions that are not currently present on the build machine.

To install additional extensions simply execute:

pecl install <extension>

It's not advised to add this to .gitlab-ci.yml. You should execute this command once, only to setup the build environment.

Extend your tests

Using atoum

Instead of PHPUnit, you can use any other tool to run unit tests. For example you can use atoum:

- wget

  - php mageekguy.atoum.phar

Using Composer

The majority of the PHP projects use Composer for managing their PHP packages. In order to execute Composer before running your tests, simply add the following in your .gitlab-ci.yml:


# Composer stores all downloaded packages in the vendor/ directory.
# Do not use the following if the vendor/ directory is commited to
# your git repository.
  - vendor/

# Install composer dependencies
- curl --silent --show-error | php
- php composer.phar install


Access private packages / dependencies

If your test suite needs to access a private repository, you need to configure the SSH keys in order to be able to clone it.

Use databases or other services

Most of the time you will need a running database in order for your tests to run. If you are using the Docker executor you can leverage Docker's ability to link to other containers. In GitLab Runner lingo, this can be achieved by defining a service.

This functionality is covered in the CI services documentation.

Testing things locally

With GitLab Runner 1.0 you can also test any changes locally. From your terminal execute:

# Check using docker executor
gitlab-ci-multi-runner exec docker test:app

# Check using shell executor
gitlab-ci-multi-runner exec shell test:app

Example project

We have set up an Example PHP Project for your convenience that runs on using our publicly available shared runners.

Want to hack on it? Simply fork it, commit and push your changes. Within a few moments the changes will be picked by a public runner and the build will begin.