Mocking Collections in PHPSpec

phpspec-logoI’m a huge fan of PHPSpec, and its close cousin, Behat. I find when writing code in conjunction with PHPSpec, I am able to enter a rhythm that I have never found with any other tool.

I particularly enjoy the code generation functionality – describe some action, do a  bin/phpspec run and have your methods created for you as you go. It really is quite a joy to use.

However, as with any tool, there is a learning curve.

I found the basics – the stuff described in the manual – to be straightforward enough that even when stuck, I could relatively quickly find my way through and get back on track.

Then, recently, I decided to build an application involving third party / social media providers for authentication using HWIOAuthBundle.

Along the way, I added the concept of a  User object having a Collection ( Doctrine\Common\Collections\Collection) of Account objects. Fairly common stuff, particularly if you have ever used Symfony at all.

The very basic idea would be something like this:


This is a work in progress, so if it looks a little rough… hey, that’s why I do TDD. The refactoring will come in time.

Seeing the tests would likely also help:

This is absolutely a work in progress. I even left in the last test, yet to be started.

As a quick side note, for the first time I have decided to declare commonly required objects by way of the  let() method. I am not absolutely sure whether or not this is good practice, but it does seem to work as I intended it too. If you know differently, do let me know by way of leaving a comment – thanks !

Currently the tests are passing – with the exception of the pending example still to write.

What may be less obvious is how much effort I went through to get the  it_can_connect_one_account_to_a_social_media_service() example to play ball.

I’ve spent a good few hours these past few evenings trying to figure out this error:

When I was seeing this error, the problematic test actually looked like this:

A bit of Google-foo told me I was likely going about this entirely the wrong way:

When the creator of PHPSpec tells you (indirectly) that you are wrong, then… you are wrong.

I could actually see the problem – the implementation seemed correct, but PHPSpec sees my call  $profile->getId() as returning an Object, and then throwing an error something along the lines of :

At first I figured… ok, well I won’t mock the  User object – I can new that up – but when trying to add a mock  Profile to the real collection, it all went a bit wrong:

That’s fine, I thought, I will use a real  Profile object as well, because why not?

Well, I’ll tell you why not.

The test expects my Profile object to have an  id of 16. I’m not about to add in a  setId() method, that would be bonkers.

At heart, I knew as soon as I started adding in real objects that I was heading down the wrong path.

Generally I find that when PHPSpec is making your life hard it is because you are trying to do the wrong thing. Sooner or later you must stop resisting.

Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 (Star Trek 365)
Picard lost most of his hair due to frustrating late night bug fixing in ten forward. It’s all explained in the Season 3 episode Bynar2Hex.

Anyway, after quite a bit a lot of further hackery, I managed to find a working solution (as per the earlier sample):

When I think about it now, it does make sense. This is similar to what I was trying to do, only this way conforms with the way PHPSpec expects me to behave 🙂

Both the  User and Profile objects are properly mocked, but as per Everzet’s comment, we are returning a real ArrayCollection, which by way of  $profile->getWrappedObject() will return the underlying  Profile objects, rather than the PHPSpec wrapped objects / Object Prophecies.

This is exactly the sort of problem that my brother – an aspiring coder – would think I “just knew” how to fix. And that he should also be expected to know how to solve instinctively also.

Of course, the next time this comes up, I will know exactly how to solve it. It’s just if you were sat watching over my shoulder, you wouldn’t imagine the hours of my life that lesson took to learn 😉



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