An easier way to use PHPUnit with CodeIgniter 3.x

v3.0.3 2022-03-17 02:49 UTC


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An easier way to use PHPUnit with CodeIgniter 3.x.

  • You don't have to modify CodeIgniter core files at all.
  • You can write controller tests easily.
  • Nothing is untestable, maybe.
  • Well documented.

Screenshot: Running tests on NetBeans 8.1


  • PHP 7.3 or later
    • If you use Monkey Patching, you must use PHP-Parser 4.2 or later as a Composer dependency.
  • CodeIgniter 3.x
    • If you want to upgrade to CodeIgniter4, see #361.
  • PHPUnit 9.3 or later
    • If you want to use PHPUnit 9.2 or earlier, please use ci-phpunit-test 2.x.


  • NetBeans
    • Go to Project Properties > Testing > PHPUnit, check Use Custom Test Suite checkbox, and select application/tests/_ci_phpunit_test/TestSuiteProvider.php.

Change Log

See Change Log.

Folder Structure

├── application/
│   └── tests/
│        ├── _ci_phpunit_test/ ... don't touch! files ci-phpunit-test uses
│        ├── Bootstrap.php     ... bootstrap file for PHPUnit
│        ├── DbTestCase.php    ... DbTestCase class
│        ├── TestCase.php      ... TestCase class
│        ├── controllers/      ... put your controller tests
│        ├── libraries/        ... put your library tests
│        ├── mocks/
│        │   └── libraries/    ... mock libraries
│        ├── models/           ... put your model tests
│        └── phpunit.xml       ... config file for PHPUnit
└── vendor/


Manual Installation

  1. Download latest ci-phpunit-test from
  2. Unzip and copy application/tests folder into your application folder in CodeIgniter project.

That's it.

Composer Installation

$ cd /path/to/codeigniter/
$ composer require kenjis/ci-phpunit-test:^3.0 --dev

And run install.php:

$ php vendor/kenjis/ci-phpunit-test/install.php --from-composer
  • The above command always overwrites existing files.
  • You must run it at CodeIgniter project root folder.
  • You can specify your application and public folder with option arguments, if you use custom folder paths.
$ php vendor/kenjis/ci-phpunit-test/install.php -a <application_dir> -p <public_dir> -t <unittest_dir>

So the default would be:

$ php vendor/kenjis/ci-phpunit-test/install.php -a application -p public -t application/tests


Manual Upgrading

  1. Download latest ci-phpunit-test from
  2. Unzip and replace application/tests/_ci_phpunit_test folder.
  3. Read Change Log.

Composer Upgrading

$ cd /path/to/codeigniter/
$ composer update kenjis/ci-phpunit-test

Read Change Log.

If you want to remove application/test/_ci_phpunit_test/

If you're upgrading from a previous version of ci-phpunit-test that created an application/test/_ci_phpunit_test directory and now want to directly use ci-phpunit-test from Composer, you have a couple of additional steps:

  1. Delete the old test library directory:
    $ rm -rf /path/to/codeigniter/application/tests/_ci_phpunit_test
  2. Edit the application/tests/Bootstrap.php file. At the bottom of the "set the main path constants" section, add the following:
    define('CI_PHPUNIT_TESTPATH', implode(
        [dirname(APPPATH), 'vendor', 'kenjis', 'ci-phpunit-test', 'application', 'tests', '_ci_phpunit_test']
    And replace any references to __DIR__ . '/_ci_phpunit_test/ or TESTPATH . '_ci_phpunit_test with CI_PHPUNIT_TESTPATH . '. (So, for example, __DIR__ . '/_ci_phpunit_test/CIPHPUnitTest.php' would become CI_PHPUNIT_TESTPATH . '/CIPHPUnitTest.php'.)

How to Run Tests

You need to install PHPUnit before running tests.

If you use Composer:

$ composer require phpunit/phpunit --dev

Run All Tests

$ cd /path/to/codeigniter/
$ vendor/bin/phpunit -c application/tests/
PHPUnit 9.5.4 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.

...                                                                 3 / 3 (100%)

Time: 00:00.102, Memory: 12.00 MB

OK (3 tests, 3 assertions)

Generating code coverage report in Clover XML format ... done [00:00.002]

Generating code coverage report in HTML format ... done [00:00.012]

To generate coverage report, Xdebug is needed.

Run a Single Test

If you want to run a single test case file:

$ vendor/bin/phpunit -c application/tests/ application/tests/models/Category_model_test.php

How to Write Tests

As an example, a test case class for Inventory_model would be as follows:


class Inventory_model_test extends TestCase
    public function setUp(): void
        $this->obj = $this->CI->Inventory_model;

    public function test_get_category_list()
        $expected = [
            1 => 'Book',
            2 => 'CD',
            3 => 'DVD',
        $list = $this->obj->get_category_list();
        foreach ($list as $category) {
            $this->assertEquals($expected[$category->id], $category->name);

    public function test_get_category_name()
        $actual = $this->obj->get_category_name(1);
        $expected = 'Book';
        $this->assertEquals($expected, $actual);

As an example, a test case class for Welcome controller would be as follows:


class Welcome_test extends TestCase
    public function test_index()
        $output = $this->request('GET', 'welcome/index');
            '<title>Welcome to CodeIgniter</title>', $output

See How to Write Tests for details.

Function/Class Reference

See Function and Class Reference.


See Tips.

Stand-alone Packages

Some features of ci-phpunit-test are available in the following standalone packages.

Related Projects for CodeIgniter 3.x