2. Getting Started

Getting Started

Let’s take a look at Codeception’s architecture. We’ll assume that you have already installed it and bootstrapped your first test suites. Codeception has generated three of them: unit, functional, and acceptance. They are well described in the previous chapter. Inside your /tests folder you will have three .yml config files and three directories with names corresponding to these suites: unit, functional, acceptance. Suites are independent groups of tests with a common purpose.


One of the main concepts of Codeception is representation of tests as actions of a person. We have a UnitTester, who executes functions and tests the code. We also have a FunctionalTester, a qualified tester, who tests the application as a whole, with knowledge of its internals. Lastly we have an AcceptanceTester, a user who works with our application through an interface that we provide.

Actor classes are not written but generated from suite configuration. Methods of actor classes are generally taken from Codeception Modules. Each module provides predefined actions for different testing purposes, and they can be combined to fit the testing environment. Codeception tries to solve 90% of possible testing issues in its modules, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We think that you can spend more time on writing tests and less on writing support code to make those tests run. By default, AcceptanceTester relies on PhpBrowser module, which is set in the tests/acceptance.suite.yml configuration file:

actor: AcceptanceTester
        - PhpBrowser:
            url: http://localhost/myapp/
        - \Helper\Acceptance

In this configuration file you can enable/disable and reconfigure modules for your needs. When you change the configuration, the actor classes are rebuilt automatically. If the actor classes are not created or updated as you expect, try to generate them manually with the build command:

php codecept build

Writing a Sample Scenario

By default tests are written as narrative scenarios. To make a PHP file a valid scenario, its name should have a Cept suffix.

Let’s say we have created a file tests/acceptance/SigninCept.php

We can do that by running the following command:

php codecept generate:cept acceptance Signin

A scenario always starts with actor class initialization. After that, writing a scenario is just like typing $I-> and choosing a proper action from the auto-completion list. Let’s log in to our website:

$I = new AcceptanceTester($scenario); // actor class initialization
$I->wantTo('login to website');

The wantTo section describes your scenario in brief. There are additional comment methods that are useful to describe the context of a scenario:

$I = new AcceptanceTester($scenario);
$I->am('user'); // actor's role
$I->wantTo('login to website'); // feature to test
$I->lookForwardTo('access website features for logged-in users'); // result to achieve

After we have described the story background, let’s start writing a scenario.

We’ll assume that we have a ‘login’ page where we get authenticated by providing a username and password. Then we are sent to a user page, where we see the text Hello, %username%. Let’s look at how this scenario is written in Codeception:

$I = new AcceptanceTester($scenario);
$I->wantTo('login to website');
$I->lookForwardTo('access website features for logged-in users');
$I->see('Hello, davert');

This scenario can probably be read by non-technical people. If you just remove all special chars like braces, arrows and $, this test transforms into plain English text:

I am user
I wantTo login to website
I lookForwardTo access website features for logged-in users
I amOnPage '/login'
I fillField 'Username','davert'
I fillField 'Password','qwerty'
I click 'Login'
I see 'Hello, davert'

Codeception generates this text representation from PHP code by executing:

php codecept generate:scenarios

These generated scenarios will be stored in your _data directory in text files.

Before we execute this test, we should make sure that the website is running on a local web server. Let’s open the tests/acceptance.suite.yml file and replace the URL with the URL of your web application:

actor: AcceptanceTester
        - PhpBrowser:
            url: 'http://myappurl.local'
        - \Helper\Acceptance

After configuring the URL we can run this test with the run command:

php codecept run

This is the output we should see:

Acceptance Tests (1) -------------------------------
✔ SigninCept: Login to website

Time: 1 second, Memory: 21.00Mb

OK (1 test, 1 assertions)

Let’s get some detailed output:

php codecept run acceptance --steps

We should see a step-by-step report on the performed actions:

Acceptance Tests (1) -------------------------------
SigninCept: Login to website
Signature: SigninCept.php
Test: tests/acceptance/SigninCept.php
Scenario --
 I am user
 I look forward to access website features for logged-in users
 I am on page "/login"
 I fill field "Username" "davert"
 I fill field "Password" "qwerty"
 I click "Login"
 I see "Hello, davert"

Time: 0 seconds, Memory: 21.00Mb

OK (1 test, 1 assertions)

This simple test can be extended to a complete scenario of site usage, therefore, by emulating the user’s actions, you can test any of your websites.

Give it a try!

Cept, Cest and Test Formats

Codeception supports three test formats. Beside the previously described scenario-based Cept format, Codeception can also execute PHPUnit test files for unit testing, and Cest format.

Cest combines scenario-driven test approach with OOP design. In case you want to group a few testing scenarios into one, you should consider using Cest format. In the example below we are testing CRUD actions within a single file but with several tests (one per operation):

class PageCrudCest
    function _before(AcceptanceTester $I)
        // will be executed at the beginning of each test

    function createPage(AcceptanceTester $I)
       // todo: write test

    function viewPage(AcceptanceTester $I)
       // todo: write test

    function updatePage(AcceptanceTester $I)
        // todo: write test

    function deletePage(AcceptanceTester $I)
       // todo: write test

Cest files such as this can be created by running a generator:

php codecept generate:cest acceptance PageCrud

Learn more about the Cest format in the Advanced Testing section.


Codeception allows execution of user stories in Gherkin format in a similar manner as is done in Cucumber or Behat. Please refer to the BDD chapter to learn more-


Codeception has a global configuration in codeception.yml and a config for each suite. We also support .dist configuration files. If you have several developers in a project, put shared settings into codeception.dist.yml and personal settings into codeception.yml. The same goes for suite configs. For example, the unit.suite.yml will be merged with unit.suite.dist.yml.

Running Tests

Tests can be started with the run command:

php codecept run

With the first argument you can run all tests from one suite:

php codecept run acceptance

To limit tests run to a single class, add a second argument. Provide a local path to the test class, from the suite directory:

php codecept run acceptance SigninCept.php

Alternatively you can provide the full path to test file:

php codecept run tests/acceptance/SigninCept.php

You can further filter which tests are run by appending a method name to the class, separated by a colon (for Cest or Test formats):

php codecept run tests/acceptance/SignInCest.php:^anonymousLogin$

You can provide a directory path as well. This will execute all acceptance tests from the backend dir:

php codecept run tests/acceptance/backend

Using regular expressions, you can even run many different test methods from the same directory or class. For example, this will execute all acceptance tests from the backend dir beginning with the word “login”:

php codecept run tests/acceptance/backend:^login

To execute a group of tests that are not stored in the same directory, you can organize them in groups.


To generate JUnit XML output, you can provide the --xml option, and --html for HTML report.

php codecept run --steps --xml --html

This command will run all tests for all suites, displaying the steps, and building HTML and XML reports. Reports will be stored in the tests/_output/ directory.

To see all the available options, run the following command:

php codecept help run


To receive detailed output, tests can be executed with the --debug option. You may print any information inside a test using the codecept_debug function.


There are plenty of useful Codeception commands:

  • generate:cept suite filename - Generates a sample Cept scenario
  • generate:cest suite filename - Generates a sample Cest test
  • generate:test suite filename - Generates a sample PHPUnit Test with Codeception hooks
  • generate:feature suite filename - Generates Gherkin feature file
  • generate:suite suite actor - Generates a new suite with the given Actor class name
  • generate:scenarios suite - Generates text files containing scenarios from tests
  • generate:helper filename - Generates a sample Helper File
  • generate:pageobject suite filename - Generates a sample Page object
  • generate:stepobject suite filename - Generates a sample Step object
  • generate:environment env - Generates a sample Environment configuration
  • generate:groupobject group - Generates a sample Group Extension


We have taken a look into the Codeception structure. Most of the things you need were already generated by the bootstrap command. After you have reviewed the basic concepts and configurations, you can start writing your first scenario.

© 2011–2017 Michael Bodnarchuk and contributors
Licensed under the MIT License.