Jeremy Harris

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Jul 2011

Testing a Subset of Methods Within a Test Case

UPDATE: @savant and I were chatting in #cakephp one night. Turns out he had something similar, and took some of my ideas and came up with a nice solution:

We all know that testing can be really slow if you have a large app with a lot of fixtures. When dealing with this on a large test case file, it becomes a huge time waste to test the entire file each time when making a lot of little changes to a single method. My all-to-elegant method I've been using to speed this up is to simply comment out the functions I don't want to test at the time. No fixtures loaded, no test data inserted - good to go.

This fantastically professional method of mine was still just too slow for me (not to mention issues with comment blocks within test functions, testing just a couple of methods at a time, etc.). So I decided to write a bit of code that tells the test case manager to skip those methods altogether, effectively creating a "I just want to test these methods" option.

function getTests() {
  $tests = parent::getTests(); 
  $testMethods = array_udiff($tests, $this->methods, 'strcasecmp');
  if (!isset($this->testMethods) || empty($this->testMethods)) {
    $this->testMethods = $testMethods;
  if (!is_array($this->testMethods)) {
    $this->testMethods = array($this->testMethods);
  if (isset($this->skipSetup) && $this->skipSetup) {
    $tests = array_udiff($tests, array('start', 'end'), 'strcasecmp');
  if (empty($this->testMethods)) {
    return $tests;
  $removeMethods = array_udiff($testMethods, $this->testMethods, 'strcasecmp');
  $tests = array_udiff($tests, $removeMethods, 'strcasecmp');
  $skipped = array_udiff($testMethods, $this->testMethods, 'strcasecmp');
  foreach ($skipped as $skip) {
    $this->_reporter->paintSkip(sprintf(__('Skipped entire test method: %s', true), $skip));
  return $tests;

Place this in your test case class (assuming you have extended CakeTestCase). You can now add a $testMethods var as a string - the only method you want test - or as an array of methods you want to test. All methods not in the $testMethods var will be skipped, giving you a quick way to test just the methods you're working on.

If you're not extending Cake's CakeTestCase already, I suggest you do. At the very least it's beneficial in creating a centrailized place to add the $fixtures array when your tables expand. Who hasn't gotten a "missing table" error or two? (For those who haven't extended it before, remember to ignore your child class if you do, otherwise you'll pay in some extra database setup time. It's also worth noting that you should flush the registry right after your ignore statement so you don't accidentally access your default database.)

Oh, also: Please, please, please make sure to remove the $testMethods variable from your test case once you're done focusing on a single method. We wouldn't want you to commit a change that skips a bunch of tests, would we?

Oh, yeah, also also: I've folded this little method into my ExtendedTestCase plugin, if you're interested.

Jeremy Harris is a web developer with over 10 years of experience. He's coded in many languages and currently focuses on PHP, both agnostic and framework-based. When he isn't at the keyboard, you can find him walking @riverthepuppy or brewing beer. He only talks in the third person when peer pressure dictates he should, such as on his blog.