SMW Unit Test Development

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Running tests is commonly divided into a manual (without using any tool or automated script) and an automated approach.

Manual testing

If you want to run some manual tests (either as scripted or exploratory test procedure) then you just have to:

  1. Download a related branch using composer require "mediawiki/semantic-media-wiki:dev-foo (where foo refers to the branch name) or in case you want to test the current master, use @dev or dev-master as version together with minimum-stability: dev flag so that the branch/master can be fetched without any stability limitations.
  2. Run composer dump-autoload to ensure that all registered classes are correctly initialized before starting any test procedure.

Automated testing (PHPUnit)

For the automated approach, Semantic MediaWiki relies on PHPUnit as scripted testing methodology. Scripted tests are used to verify that an expected behaviour occurs for codified requirements on whether a result can be accepted or has to be rejected for the given conditions.

  • Unit test refers to a script that verifies results for a unit, module, or class against an expected outcome in an isolated environment
  • Integration test (functional test) normally combines multiple components into a single process to verify results in a production like environment (DB access, sample data etc.)
  • System test (and its individual modules) is treated as "black-box" to observe behaviour as a whole rather than its units

Running tests

  1. Verify that PHUnit is installed and in case it is not use composer require phpunit/phpunit:~4.8 --update-with-dependencies to add the package
  2. Verify that your MediaWiki installation comes with its test files and folders (e.g. /myMediawikiFolder/tests ) in order for Semantic MediaWiki to have access to registered MW-core classes. If the tests folder is missing, you may download it from a matched release source.
  3. Run composer phpunit from the Semantic MediaWiki base directory (e.g. /extensions/SemanticMediaWiki) using a standard command line tool which should output something like:
$ composer phpunit

Semantic MediaWiki: 2.5.0-alpha (SMWSQLStore3, sqlite)
MediaWiki:          1.28.0-alpha (Extension vendor autoloader)
Site language:      en

Execution time:     2015-01-01 01:00
Xdebug:             Disabled (or not installed)

PHPUnit 4.8.27 by Sebastian Bergmann and contributors.

Runtime:        PHP 5.6.8
Configuration:  /home/travis/build/SemanticMediaWiki/mw/extensions/SemanticMediaWiki/phpunit.xml.dist

.............................................................   61 / 4069 (  1%)
.............................................................  122 / 4069 (  2%)

Information about PHPUnit in connection with MediaWiki can be found at and

Writing tests

Writing meaningful tests isn't easy nor is it complicated but it requires some diligence on how to setup a test and its environment. One simple rule is to avoid the use of hidden expectations or inheritance as remedy for the "less code is good code" aesthetics. Allow the code to be readable and if possible follow the arrange, act, assert pattern and yet again "Avoid doing magic".

For a short introduction on "How to write a test for Semantic MediaWiki", have a look at the video.

Test cases

The use of MediaWikiTestCase is discouraged as its binds tests and the test environment to MediaWiki. Generally it is best to use PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase and in case where a MW database connection is required MwDBaseUnitTestCase should be used instead.

  • QueryPrinterTestCase base class for all query and result printers
  • SpecialPageTestCase derives from SemanticMediaWikiTestCase

Integration tests

Integration tests are vital to confirm expected behaviour of a component from an integrative perspective that occurs through the interplay with its surroundings. SMW\Tests\Integration\ contains most of the tests that target the validation of reciprocity with MediaWiki and/or other services such as:

  • SPARQLStore ( fuseki, virtuoso, blazegraph, or sesame )
  • Extensions such as SM, SESP, SBL etc.

Some details about the integration test environment can be found here.

Write integration tests using json script

Integration tests can be written in a pseudo json script in combination with a specialized TestCaseRunner that handles the necessary object setup and tear down process for each test execution.

The script like test definition was introduced to lower the barrier of understanding of what is being tested by using a wikitext notation (internally PHPUnit is used by the ByJsonTestCaseProvider to run/provide the actually test).

A new test file (with different test cases) is automatically added by a TestCaseRunner as soon as it is placed within the location expected by the runner.

The section setup contains object entities that are planned to be used during the test which are specified by a name and a content (generally the page content in wikitext).

"setup": [
        "name": "Has text",
        "contents": "[[Has type::Text]]"
        "name": "Property:Has number",
        "contents": "[[Has type::Number]]"
        "name": "Example/S0009/1",
        "contents": "[[Has text::Some text to search]]"

The test result assertion is done in a very simplified way but expressive enough for users to understand the test objective and its expected results. For example, verifying that a result printer does output a certain string, one has to the define an expected output in terms of:

"tests": [
        "type": "format",
        "about": "#0 this case is expected to output ...",
        "subject": "Example/Test/1",
        "assert-output": {
            "to-contain": [

Different types of test case definitions provide specialized assertion methods:

  • query, concept, and format
  • parser
  • rdf
  • special

It can happen that an output is mixed with language dependent content (which when chaged such as the site/content language may make the test script fail) and therefore it is recommended to fix the settings for a test by adding something like:

"settings": {
    "wgContLang": "en",
    "wgLang": "en",
    "smwgNamespacesWithSemanticLinks": {
        "NS_MAIN": true,
        "SMW_NS_PROPERTY": true

A complete list of available json test files can be found here.

Benchmark tests

For details, please have a look at the benchmark guide document.

JavaScript (QUnit)

Running qunit tests in connection with MediaWiki requires to execute Special:JavaScriptTest. QUnit tests are currently not executed on Travis (see #136).



see Help:Using_PHPUnit