Mastering Behat Testing: A Comprehensive Guide for Implementing BDD in PHP Projects

Behaviour Driven Development in PHP


4 min read

Mastering Behat Testing: A Comprehensive Guide for Implementing BDD in PHP Projects

Behat testing is a Behavior Driven Development (BDD) PHP framework that focuses on describing the behavior of a web application in simple, human-readable language. It uses Gherkin syntax to define test scenarios, making it accessible not just to developers but also to project managers and business owners​​​​.

What is Behat?

Behat allows teams to write automated tests that describe how software should behave in various scenarios. This approach helps in bridging the communication gap between developers, testers, and business stakeholders, ensuring that all parties have a clear understanding of the application’s functionality and requirements​​.

When to Use Behat

Behat is versatile and can be used for various types of testing:

  • Unit Tests: Test individual units of code for correctness.

  • Integration Tests: Test how multiple units work together.

  • End-to-End Tests: Test the application from the user’s perspective, covering the entire flow of the application​​.

Implementing Behat Testing in your projects

  • Installation: Behat can be installed using Composer. You’ll start by adding Behat, Mink, and their extensions to your project. Mink is essential for web browser interaction during tests​​.

      php composer.phar require --dev behat/behat
      php composer.phar require --dev behat/mink-extension
      php composer.phar require --dev behat/mink-goutte-driver
      php composer.phar require --dev behat/mink-selenium2-driver
  • Configuration: After installation, you’ll configure Behat by initializing your project with behat --init, which sets up the directory structure and generates a basic configuration file (behat.yml). This configuration can be customized to your project’s needs, including specifying the base URL, browser settings, and more​​.

      php vendor/bin/behat --init
  • Create a behat.yml file in your project root to configure Behat and Mink. Here’s an example configuration for testing with Selenium and Chrome:

            base_url: 'http://your-application.local'
                  wd_host: ""
                  capabilities: { "browserName": "chrome" }
  • This configuration tells Behat to use the Mink extension for browser interaction, specifying Selenium as the browser driver and Chrome as the browser.

  • Writing Tests: Tests are written in Gherkin syntax and stored in .feature files. These files describe features, scenarios, and steps in a way that is understandable to both humans and Behat. Here’s a simplified example of a test scenario:

      Feature: User Registration
        In order to access personal features
        As a new user
        I need to be able to create a new account
        Scenario: Registering a new account
          Given I am on the homepage
          When I follow "Register"
          And I fill in "Email" with "[email protected]"
          And I fill in "Password" with "my_secure_password"
          And I press "Submit"
          Then I should see "Registration successful"
  • This feature file describes a user registration scenario with steps to navigate, interact with form fields, and assert expected outcomes​.

  • Running Tests: Execute your tests by running Behat from the command line. Behat will interpret your .feature files and execute the corresponding tests​​​​.

      php vendor/bin/behat
  • Behat will read your .feature files, execute the scenarios, and report the results in the terminal.

  • Contexts: Behat tests are executed within a context, which defines the environment and provides methods to interact with the application. You can extend the MinkContext or create custom contexts to define your application-specific actions and assertions​​.

Additional Considerations:

  • Context Classes: For custom steps or assertions not covered by MinkExtension, you’ll need to define context classes extending Behat\MinkExtension\Context\MinkContext. These classes allow you to implement custom step definitions​​.

  • Fixtures and Test Data: Use fixtures to ensure your application is in the expected state before running tests. This might involve loading test data into your database or preparing the application environment​​.

  • Continuous Integration: Integrating Behat tests into your CI/CD pipeline ensures that your tests are automatically run against every commit, helping to catch regressions early.


While specific CMS platforms were not directly listed in the sources as explicitly supporting Behat, it’s widely known in the development community that Behat can be integrated with several PHP-based CMS platforms. Drupal and WordPress are notable examples of PHP CMSs that support Behat testing, thanks to their flexible architecture and the availability of various plugins or modules that facilitate integration with Behat. For instance:

  • Drupal: The Behat Drupal Extension enhances Behat, allowing it to be used for testing Drupal sites. It provides Drupal-specific contexts and features that simplify writing tests for Drupal functionality.

  • WordPress: While the integration might not be as direct as with Drupal, the WordPress community has tools and plugins that allow Behat to be used for testing WordPress sites, taking advantage of Behat’s ability to describe features and scenarios in human-readable Gherkin language.

  • Laravel: Behat Laravel extension offers an incredibly simple (and fast) way to begin testing and driving your Laravel applications with Behat.

Note: Full documentation for behat is available here.

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