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Writing Unit Tests for WordPress

This post and others like it still get a strange amount of traffic. It’s worth noting the details here are out of date and I won’t be keeping it up. Use at your own risk!

In my last post I wrote about two testing libraries for WordPress and briefly discussed the difference between integration tests and unit tests. I also mentioned a concept called test driven development (TDD) and breifly explained how it might help write better code from the start. This post will expand on that and show how to write a simple WordPress plugin from a test-first approach. Since we’re writing unit tests, we’re going to use WP-Mock to create a test double for us and we’ll use PHPunit for our test runner.

TDD starts with a problem you want to solve—the same problem your plugin wants to solve. In this case, let’s say we have a plugin that will add some metadata to a post with the title “Test”. Since that’s going to require us to mock some WordPress core functionality, make sure WP-Mock is configured in your working environment. We’ll start by writing a test that verifies the metadata was attached to the post.

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Why Unit Testing in WordPress Matters

Testing WordPress has become a favorite topic of mine lately: moving away from hitting refresh and toward something more holistic, reliable, and automatable. I’ve written before about a testing method called called browser testing, which verifies a webpage has some expected behavior. These kinds of tests are great but they’re not perfect. They require a lot o dependencies and that someone else would need to verify your code. There is a better way, one that doesn’t require any of those dependencies and verfies the code down to the exact lines you wrote—it can even be independent of WordPress. It’s called unit testing and it will make you a better developer.

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