Writing tests should be easy, but installing and maintaining every single piece needed is nontrivial. Thankfully Docker can provide each piece of the jigsaw: Symfony 3, Behat and PhantomJS.

I have created pilotboat to make it easy for me to develop and test PHP based applications, and I will use it in this how-to. If you prefer to use another setup, feel free to look through my github repository for pilotboat for inspiration.


  1. Working Docker installation
  2. A top level domain that points to your local machine, e.g. .dev

Pilotboat setup

The following steps are required to setup pilotboat:

  1. Clone https://github.com/henrik-farre/docker to your preferred location
  2. Add the bin directory to your $PATH.
  3. (Optional) Create an Blackfire.io account
  4. Copy containers/docker.env.skel to containers/docker.env and fill out the values for your Blackfire.io account, or leave them blank
  5. Run: pilotboat start php-dev-debian-jessie (starts the default image based on Debian Jessie with Apache 2.4.x and PHP 5.6.x)

Docker-compose will download and build the needed images and start the containers.

Site setup

To create a site based on Symfony 3 run pilotboat site-create symfony.dev symfony (symfony.dev is your domain name, you may choose anything you like). The latest stable version of the Symfony 3 framework will be downloaded and installed. Note that pilotboat will create a database, but you will have to manually configure app/config/parameters.yml to access it.

Behat configuration

Enter the container with pilotboat shell and change to your site: cd symfony.dev .

Next you will have to install the needed bundles for Behat, using composer: composer require --dev behat/behat behat/mink behat/mink-extension behat/mink-selenium2-driver

When composer is done installing, initialize Behat with vendor/bin/behat --init , this will create the features directory and features/bootstrap/FeatureContext.php .

Now we have to tie everything together using a behat.yml file, that you create in the root directory of your site, e.g. /var/www/symfony.dev:

        - FeatureContext
        - Behat\MinkExtension\Context\MinkContext
      base_url: 'http://symfony.dev/'
            wd_host: 'http://phantomjs:8910/wd/hub'

Writing and running tests

I will not go into detail on how to write tests, so the following is just a small example. Create features/homepage.feature and put the following in the file:

Feature: Homepage
  In order to see if the home page works
  As a website user
  I need to be able to see the home page

  Scenario: See the home page
    Given I am on "/"
    Then I should see "Welcome to Symfony 3"

Run vendor/bin/behat to execute the test, and you should see something like:

Feature: Homepage
  In order to see if the home page works
  As a website user
  I need to be able to see the home page

  Scenario: See the home page                # features/homepage.feature:6
    Given I am on "/"                        # Behat\MinkExtension\Context\MinkContext::visit()
    Then I should see "Welcome to Symfony 3" # Behat\MinkExtension\Context\MinkContext::assertPageContainsText()

1 scenario (1 passed)
2 steps (2 passed)
0m0.21s (13.43Mb)

And you're ready to write tests :)