Test your Legacy PHP Application with Function Mocks!

Much talking is going on about Unittesting, Mocks and TDD in the PHP world. For the most this discussions surround object-oriented PHP code, frameworks and applications.

Yet I would assert that the reality for PHP developers (me included) is dealing with PHP 4, PHP 5 migrated, or non-object oriented legacy applications which are near to impossible to bring under test. Still this code works, is in production and needs maintenance and possibly extension for new features.

For example many applications may still use mysql_* functions at length inside their model or have multiple nested function levels (Example: Wordpress). Runkit to the rescue: A PECL extension that can hack your running PHP code, such that method or functions are repointed to execute new implementations. Using this extension you can actually mock out internal PHP functions, which is great to bring legacy code under test.

Consider this following proof of concept, using the Runkit extension build by Padraic Brady (the one from pecl.php.net does not compile on PHP 5.2), which replaces the functionality of mysql_query(). You have to set the following option in your php.ini: runkit.internal_override = On for this to work. By default only user-defined functions may be overwritten by Runkit.

class FunctionMocker
    protected $_mockedFuncBehaviourMap = array();

    public function mock($funcName, $return=null)
        $newFuncCode = 'return "'.$return.'";';

        $renamedName = "__".$funcName."_mockOriginalCopy";
        runkit_function_copy($funcName, $renamedName);
        runkit_function_redefine($funcName, '', $newFuncCode);

        $this->_mockedFuncBehaviourMap[$funcName] = $renamedName;

    public function reset()
        foreach($this->_mockedFuncBehaviourMap AS $funcName => $renamedName) {
            runkit_function_copy($renamedName, $funcName);
        $this->_mockedFuncBehaviourMap = array();

$mocker = new FunctionMocker();
$mocker->mock('mysql_query', 'hello world!');

echo mysql_query(); // hello world


mysql_query(); // error

This example, only allows for string return values of the mock and has no support for replacing the arguments of the mocked function. Also chaining of different return values based on input or call number might be interesting. Some kind of Code Generator Tool would have to be implemented to support this functionality. Additionally Assertions and Verifying should be implemented for the function arguments. All in all this would allow to mock functions as you would mock interfaces/classes, which would be a great addition for all those legacy applications that use procedural PHP.

Additionally what the real killer for runkit would be: The possibility to insert PHP callbacks instead of real PHP code into the runkit_function_redefine.

More about: Testing

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