Speedup your test suite on Codeship using ParallelCI

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post we use Codeship to test some of our private repositories. The folks at Codeship improved their service a lot since we first used it: the UI is improved a lot (both visually as practically) and the list of notification services keeps growing too.

Lately they introduced a cool new feature called ParallelCI. Travis CI has a similar feature called build matrix. You can split up your test suite in multiple parallel builds, called pipelines. If you have a big or slow test suite (probably your Behat tests) you can speed up things a lot by splitting them into multiple pipelines.

Example configuration

Because our phpspec suite is fast enough, we’ve splitted our Behat suite in multiple pipelines. Of course this is project dependant and will vary per use case. To enable ParallelCI open your project settings at Codeship and click on the “Test” link. Scroll down for the “Configure Test Pipelines” section. There will be one pipeline configured called “Test commands” in which all your current test commands are configured.
Click on the green “Add new pipeline” link and a new pipeline tab will be added. Give it a clear name and add your test command. To get an idea of how this can be done take a look at our configuration:

Tab #1: Behat user

Tab #2: Behat profile

Tab #3: phpspec

When you save these settings (the pipeline edit form is bit cumbersome as you will notice when adding new tabs, but I guess this will be improved soon enough) and rerun your last run you’ll see your suite will be split into multiple pipelines and as a result it will speedup things drastically. So I definitely see the use of this new feature and I’m sure you’ll love it for your bigger test suites.

How to use Codeship with Symfony2, phpspec and Behat

My coworkers and I at waarneembemiddeling.nl are really fond of phpspec and Behat. Yes, we must confess: we didn’t test much since a couple of months ago. We skipped the phpunit age and started right away with phpspec and Behat. We also like services, so instead of setting up (and maintain) our own CI server, we use Codeship. To be honest we fell in love with Travis, but that was a little bit to expensive for us. And so our search ended at Codeship.

There is some documentation on how to use it with php, but its not that in depth about phpspec and friends. Let’s start with phpspec, as this is pretty easy. I’m assuming you install phpspec and Behat as dev dependencies using Composer:


Now head over to codeship.com and edit your projects configuration. Pick “PHP” as your technology (didn’t see that one coming). In the “setup commands” field we first select the desired php version:

Next install deps (I believe this line is placed there by default by the codeship guys):

Then add phpsec to the “test commands” field:

Et voila, phpspec should now be functioning. 🙂


Behat is a little bit more difficult. The first problem you need to solve is to get the MySQL credentials into your Symfony2 application. These are provided trough environment vars, but differ from the naming convention in Symfony2.

We start by changing our app/config/config_test.yml:

Now to let Symfony2 pick up the environment vars we have to follow the convention I just mentioned. This means that an environment variable with the name SYMFONY__TEST_DATABASE_USER will be recognised when building the container. But let’s start by adding a bash script to ease the setup of the testing environment (locally and Codeship). Call it setup_test_env.sh and place it in the root of your project:

Then adjust your codeship setup commands and add:

Last but not least add the behat command to the test commands:

Things should be working now. Quickly enough you will run into the infamous xdebug “Fatal error: Maximum function nesting level of ‘100’ reached” error. Let’s fix this right away and add this in your setup commands:


So the complete setup commands dialog for phpspec and Behat together looks like this:

And the test commands like this:

Everything should be working fine now! To run your tests local don’t forget to first execute the bash script (notice the extra dot, it is required):

Happy testing! 😉