Functional Tests

Now that we’ve written some acceptance tests, functional tests are almost the same, with one major difference: Functional tests don’t require a web server.

Under the hood, Codeception uses Symfony’s BrowserKit to “send” requests to your app. So there’s no real HTTP request made, but rather a BrowserKit Request object with the required properties is passed to your framework’s (front-)controller.

As a first step, you need to enable Codeception’s module for your framework in functional.suite.yml (see below).

All of Codeception’s framework modules share the same interface, and thus your tests are not bound to any one of them. This is a sample functional test:

// LoginCest.php

class LoginCest
    public function tryLogin(FunctionalTester $I)
        $I->fillField('Username', 'Miles');
        $I->fillField('Password', 'Davis');
        $I->see('Hello, Miles', 'h1');
        // $I->seeEmailIsSent(); // only for Symfony

As you see, the syntax is the same for functional and acceptance tests.


Functional tests are usually much faster than acceptance tests. But functional tests are less stable as they run Codeception and the application in one environment. If your application was not designed to run in long lived processes (e.g. if you use the exit operator or global variables), then functional tests are probably not for you.

Headers, Cookies, Sessions

One of the common issues with functional tests is the use of PHP functions that deal with headers, sessions and cookies. As you may already know, the header function triggers an error if it is executed after PHP has already output something. In functional tests we run the application multiple times, thus we will get lots of irrelevant errors in the result.

External URLs

Functional tests cannot access external URLs, just URLs within your project. You can use PhpBrowser to open external URLs.

Shared Memory

In functional testing, unlike running the application the traditional way, the PHP application does not stop after it has finished processing a request. Since all requests are run in one memory container, they are not isolated. So if you see that your tests are mysteriously failing when they shouldn’t - try to execute a single test. This will show if the tests were failing because they weren’t isolated during the run. Keep your memory clean, avoid memory leaks and clean global and static variables.

Enabling Framework Modules

You have a functional testing suite in the tests/functional directory. To start, you need to include one of the framework modules in the suite configuration file: tests/functional.suite.yml.


To perform Symfony integration you just need to include the Symfony module into your test suite. If you also use Doctrine2, don’t forget to include it too. To make the Doctrine2 module connect using the doctrine service from Symfony, you should specify the Symfony module as a dependency for Doctrine2:

# functional.suite.yml

actor: FunctionalTester
        - Symfony
        - Doctrine2:
            depends: Symfony # connect to Symfony

By default this module will search for AppKernel in the app directory.

The module uses the Symfony Profiler to provide additional information and assertions.

See the full reference


The Laravel5 module is included and requires no configuration:

# functional.suite.yml

actor: FunctionalTester
        - Laravel5


Yii2 tests are included in Basic and Advanced application templates. Follow the Yii2 guides to start.

Zend Framework 2

Use the ZF2 module to run functional tests inside Zend Framework 2:

# functional.suite.yml

actor: FunctionalTester
        - ZF2

Zend Expressive

Zend Expressive tests can be executed with enabling a corresponding module.

# functional.suite.yml

actor: FunctionalTester
        - ZendExpressive

See module reference to more configuration options

Phalcon 4

The Phalcon4 module requires creating a bootstrap file which returns an instance of \Phalcon\Mvc\Application. To start writing functional tests with Phalcon support you should enable the Phalcon4 module and provide the path to this bootstrap file:

# functional.suite.yml

actor: FunctionalTester
        - Phalcon4:
            bootstrap: 'app/config/bootstrap.php'
             cleanup: true
             savepoints: true

See the full reference

Writing Functional Tests

Functional tests are written in the same manner as Acceptance Tests with the PhpBrowser module enabled. All framework modules and the PhpBrowser module share the same methods and the same engine.

Therefore we can open a web page with amOnPage method:


We can click links to open web pages:

// click link inside .nav element
$I->click('Logout', '.nav');
// click by CSS
// click with strict locator
$I->click(['class' => 'logout']);

We can submit forms as well:

$I->submitForm('form#login', ['name' => 'john', 'password' => '123456']);
// alternatively
$I->fillField('#login input[name=name]', 'john');
$I->fillField('#login input[name=password]', '123456');
$I->click('Submit', '#login');

And do assertions:

$I->see('Welcome, john');
$I->see('Logged in successfully', '.notice');

Framework modules also contain additional methods to access framework internals. For instance, Laravel5, Phalcon, and Yii2 modules have a seeRecord method which uses the ActiveRecord layer to check that a record exists in the database.

Take a look at the complete reference for the module you are using. Most of its methods are common to all modules but some of them are unique.

You can also access framework globals inside a test or access the dependency injection container inside the Helper\Functional class:

namespace Helper;

class Functional extends \Codeception\Module
    function doSomethingWithMyService()
        $service = $this->getModule('Symfony')->grabServiceFromContainer('myservice');

Also check all available Public Properties of the used modules to get full access to their data.

Error Reporting

By default Codeception uses the E_ALL & ~E_STRICT & ~E_DEPRECATED error reporting level. In functional tests you might want to change this level depending on your framework’s error policy. The error reporting level can be set in the suite configuration file:

actor: FunctionalTester
error_level: E_ALL & ~E_STRICT & ~E_DEPRECATED

error_level can also be set globally in codeception.yml file. In order to do that, you need to specify error_level as a part of settings. For more information, see Global Configuration. Note that suite specific error_level value will override global value.


Functional tests are great if you are using powerful frameworks. By using functional tests you can access and manipulate their internal state. This makes your tests shorter and faster. In other cases, if you don’t use frameworks there is no practical reason to write functional tests. If you are using a framework other than the ones listed here, create a module for it and share it with the community.

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