This package is abandoned and no longer maintained. The author suggests using the symfony/panther package instead.

A browser testing and web scraping library for PHP and Symfony.

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dev-master / 1.0.x-dev 2019-08-22 14:24 UTC


A browser testing and web scraping library for PHP and Symfony

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Panther is a convenient standalone library to scrape websites and to run end-to-end tests using real browsers.

Panther is super powerful. It leverages the W3C's WebDriver protocol to drive native web browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox.

Panther is very easy to use, because it implements Symfony's popular BrowserKit and DomCrawler APIs, and contains all the features you need to test your apps. It will sound familiar if you have ever created a functional test for a Symfony app: as the API is exactly the same! Keep in mind that Panther can be used in every PHP project, as it is a standalone library.

Panther automatically finds your local installation of Chrome and launches it (thanks to ChromeDriver), so you don't need to install anything on your computer, neither Selenium server nor any other obscure driver.

In test mode, Panther automatically starts your application using the PHP built-in web-server. You can focus on writing your tests or web-scraping scenario and Panther will take care of everything else.


Unlike testing and web scraping libraries you're used to, Panther:

  • executes the JavaScript code contained in webpages
  • supports everything that Chrome (or Firefox) implements
  • allows screenshots taking
  • can wait for asynchronously loaded elements to show up
  • lets you run your own JS code or XPath queries in the context of the loaded page
  • supports custom Selenium server installations
  • supports remote browser testing services including SauceLabs and BrowserStack



Use Composer to install Panther in your project. You may want to use the --dev flag if you want to use Panther for testing only and not for web scraping in a production environment:

composer req symfony/panther

composer req --dev symfony/panther

Warning: On *nix systems, the unzip command must be installed or you will encounter an error similar to RuntimeException: sh: 1: exec: /app/vendor/symfony/panther/src/ProcessManager/../../chromedriver-bin/chromedriver_linux64: Permission denied (or chromedriver_linux64: not found). The underlying reason is that PHP's ZipArchive doesn't preserve UNIX executable permissions.

Basic Usage


require __DIR__.'/vendor/autoload.php'; // Composer's autoloader

$client = \Symfony\Component\Panther\Client::createChromeClient();
$crawler = $client->request('GET', 'https://api-platform.com'); // Yes, this website is 100% written in JavaScript


// Wait for an element to be rendered

echo $crawler->filter('.support')->text();
$client->takeScreenshot('screen.png'); // Yeah, screenshot!

Testing Usage

The PantherTestCase class allows you to easily write E2E tests. It automatically starts your app using the built-in PHP web server and let you crawl it using Panther. To provides all of the testing tools you're used to, it extends PHPUnit's TestCase.

If you are testing a Symfony application, PantherTestCase automatically extends the WebTestCase class. It means you can easily create functional tests, which can directly execute the kernel of your application and access all your existing services. In this case, you can use all crawler test assertions provided by Symfony with Panther.


namespace App\Tests;

use Symfony\Component\Panther\PantherTestCase;

class E2eTest extends PantherTestCase
    public function testMyApp(): void
        $client = static::createPantherClient(); // Your app is automatically started using the built-in web server
        $client->request('GET', '/mypage');

        // Use any PHPUnit assertion, including the ones provided by Symfony
        $this->assertPageTitleContains('My Title');
        $this->assertSelectorTextContains('#main', 'My body');

To run this test:

phpunit tests/E2eTest.php

A Polymorphic Feline

Panther also gives you instant access to other BrowserKit-based implementations of Client and Crawler. Unlike Panther's native client, these alternative clients don't support JavaScript, CSS and screenshot capturing, but they are super-fast!

Two alternative clients are available:

  • The first directly manipulates the Symfony kernel provided by WebTestCase. It is the fastest client available, but it is only available for Symfony apps.
  • The second leverages the Goutte web scraping library. It is an intermediate between Symfony's and Panther's test clients. Goutte sends real HTTP requests. It is fast and is able to browse any webpage, not only the ones of the application under test. However, Goutte doesn't support JavaScript and other advanced features because it is entirely written in PHP. This one is available even for non-Symfony apps!

The fun part is that the 3 clients implement the exact same API, so you can switch from one to another just by calling the appropriate factory method, resulting in a good trade-off for every single test case (Do I need JavaScript? Do I need to authenticate with an external SSO server? Do I want to access the kernel of the current request? ... etc).

Here is how to retrieve instances of these clients:


namespace App\Tests;

use Symfony\Component\Panther\PantherTestCase;
use Symfony\Component\Panther\Client;

class E2eTest extends PantherTestCase
    public function testMyApp()
        $symfonyClient = static::createClient(); // A cute kitty: Symfony's functional test tool
        $goutteClient = static::createGoutteClient(); // An agile lynx: Goutte
        $pantherClient = static::createPantherClient(); // A majestic Panther
        // Both Goutte and Panther benefits from the built-in HTTP server

        $customChromeClient = Client::createChromeClient(null, null, [], 'https://example.com'); // Create a custom Chrome client
        $customSeleniumClient = Client::createSeleniumClient('', null, 'https://example.com'); // Create a custom Selenium client
        // When initializing a custom client, the integrated web server IS NOT started automatically.
        // Use PantherTestCase::startWebServer() or WebServerManager if you want to start it manually.

        // enjoy the same API for the 3 felines
        // $*client->request('GET', '...')

        $kernel = static::createKernel(); // If you are testing a Symfony app, you also have access to the kernel

        // ...

Creating Isolated Browsers to Test Apps Using Mercure or WebSocket

Panther provides a convenient way to test applications with real-time capabilities which use Mercure, WebSocket and similar technologies.

PantherTestCase::createAdditionalPantherClient() creates additional, isolated browsers which can interact with each other. For instance, this can be useful to test a chat application having several users connected simultaneously:


use Symfony\Component\Panther\PantherTestCase;

class ChatTest extends PantherTestCase
    public function testChat(): void
        $client1 = self::createPantherClient();
        $client1->request('GET', '/chat'); 
        // Connect a 2nd user using an isolated browser and say hi!
        $client2 = self::createAdditionalPantherClient();
        $client2->request('GET', '/chat');
        $client2->submitForm('Post message', ['message' => 'Hi folks 👋😻']);

        // Wait for the message to be received by the first client

        // Symfony Assertions are always executed in the **primary** browser
        $this->assertSelectorTextContains('.message', 'Hi folks 👋😻');

Additional Documentation

Since Panther implements the API of popular libraries, it already has extensive documentation:

Environment Variables

The following environment variables can be set to change some Panther's behaviour:

  • PANTHER_NO_HEADLESS: to disable browser's headless mode (will display the testing window, useful to debug)
  • PANTHER_NO_SANDBOX: to disable Chrome's sandboxing (unsafe, but allows to use Panther in containers)
  • PANTHER_WEB_SERVER_DIR: to change the project's document root (default to public/)
  • PANTHER_CHROME_DRIVER_BINARY: to use another chromedriver binary, instead of relying on the ones already provided by Panther
  • PANTHER_CHROME_ARGUMENTS: to customize chromedriver arguments. You need to set PANTHER_NO_HEADLESS to fully customize.
  • PANTHER_WEB_SERVER_PORT: to change the web server's port (default to 9080)
  • PANTHER_WEB_SERVER_ROUTER: to use a web server router script which is run at the start of each HTTP request
  • PANTHER_EXTERNAL_BASE_URI: to use an external web server (the PHP built-in web server will not be started)
  • PANTHER_CHROME_BINARY: to use another google-chrome binary

Accessing To Hidden Text

According to the spec, WebDriver implementations return only the displayed text by default. When you filter on a head tag (like title), the method text() returns an empty string. Use the method html() to get the complete contents of the tag, including the tag itself.

Interactive Mode

Panther can make a pause in your tests suites after a failure. It is a break time really appreciated for investigating the problem through the web browser. For enabling this mode, you need the --debug PHPUnit option without the headless mode:

$ phpunit --debug

Test 'App\AdminTest::testLogin' started
Error: something is wrong.

Press enter to continue...

Using a Persistent Web Server to Improve Performance

When you use the Panther client, the web server running in the background will be started on demand at the first call to createPantherClient(), createGoutteClient() or startWebServer() and it will be stopped at tearDownAfterClass().

If you want to improve performances, you can hook to PHPUnit in your phpunit.xml.dist configuration file with the Panther's server extension:

<!-- phpunit.xml.dist -->
        <extension class="Symfony\Component\Panther\ServerExtension" />

This extension will start the web server on demand like previously, but it will stop it after the very last test.

It should be noted that the Panther's extension only works with PHPUnit >= 7.3. Nonetheless, if you are using an anterior PHPUnit version, you can also hook to PHPUnit with the Panther's server listener:

<!-- phpunit.xml.dist -->
        <listener class="Symfony\Component\Panther\ServerListener" />

This listener will start the web server on demand like previously, but it will stop it after each test suite.

Using an External Web Server

Sometimes, it's convenient to reuse an existing web server configuration instead of starting the built-in PHP one. To do so, set the external_base_uri option:


namespace App\Tests;

use Symfony\Component\Panther\PantherTestCase;

class E2eTest extends PantherTestCase
    public function testMyApp()
        $pantherClient = static::createPantherClient(['external_base_uri' => 'https://localhost']);
        // the PHP integrated web server will not be started

Using a Proxy

To use a proxy server, set the following environment variable: PANTHER_CHROME_ARGUMENTS='--proxy-server=socks://'

Accepting Self-signed SSL Certificates

To force Chrome to accept invalid and self-signed certificates, set the following environment variable: PANTHER_CHROME_ARGUMENTS='--ignore-certificate-errors' This option is insecure, use it only for testing in development environments, never in production (e.g. for web crawlers).

Docker Integration

Here is a minimal Docker image that can run Panther:

FROM php:latest

RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y libzip-dev zlib1g-dev chromium && docker-php-ext-install zip

Build it with docker build . -t myproject Run it with docker run -it -v "$PWD":/srv/myproject -w /srv/myproject myproject bin/phpunit

If you are using Alpine Linux, you may need to use another chromedriver binary.

RUN apk add --no-cache \
        chromium \
ENV PANTHER_CHROME_DRIVER_BINARY /usr/lib/chromium/chromedriver

Travis CI Integration

Panther will work out of the box with Travis if you add the Chrome addon. Here is a minimal .travis.yml file to run Panther tests:

language: php
  chrome: stable

  - 7.1
  - 7.2

  - phpunit

AppVeyor Integration

Panther will work out of the box with AppVeyor as long as Google Chrome is installed. Here is a minimal appveyor.yml file to run Panther tests:

build: false
platform: x86
clone_folder: c:\projects\myproject

  - '%LOCALAPPDATA%\Composer\files'

  - ps: Set-Service wuauserv -StartupType Manual
  - cinst -y php composer googlechrome
  - refreshenv
  - cd c:\tools\php73
  - copy php.ini-production php.ini /Y
  - echo date.timezone="UTC" >> php.ini
  - echo extension_dir=ext >> php.ini
  - echo extension=php_openssl.dll >> php.ini
  - echo extension=php_mbstring.dll >> php.ini
  - echo extension=php_curl.dll >> php.ini
  - echo memory_limit=3G >> php.ini
  - composer install --no-interaction --no-progress

  - php vendor\phpunit\phpunit\phpunit

Usage with Other Testing Tools

If you want to use Panther with other testing tools like LiipFunctionalTestBundle or if you just need to use a different base class, Panther has got you covered. It provides you with the Symfony\Component\Panther\PantherTestCaseTrait and you can use it to enhance your existing test-infrastructure with some Panther awesomeness:


namespace App\Tests\Controller;

use Liip\FunctionalTestBundle\Test\WebTestCase;
use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;
use Symfony\Component\Panther\PantherTestCaseTrait;

class DefaultControllerTest extends WebTestCase
    use PantherTestCaseTrait; // this is the magic. Panther is now available.

    public function testWithFixtures()
        $this->loadFixtures([]); // load your fixtures
        $client = self::createPantherClient(); // create your panther client

        $client->request('GET', '/');


The following features are not currently supported:

  • Crawling XML documents (only HTML is supported)
  • Updating existing documents (browsers are mostly used to consume data, not to create webpages)
  • Setting form values using the multidimensional PHP array syntax
  • Methods returning an instance of \DOMElement (because this library uses WebDriverElement internally)
  • Selecting invalid choices in select

Pull Requests are welcome to fill the remaining gaps!

Save the Panthers

Many of the wild cat species are highly threatened. If you like this software, help save the (real) panthers by donating to the Panthera organization.


Created by Kévin Dunglas. Sponsored by Les-Tilleuls.coop.

Panther is built on top of PHP WebDriver and several other FOSS libraries. It has been inspired by Nightwatch.js, a WebDriver-based testing tool for JavaScript.