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Continuous Integration: Activate the Robots

Great news! We have a growing test suite! Bad news! Nobody actually likes to run the tests! Sure, they only take 4 seconds now. But in a real app - with integration tests and functional tests - the entire suite may take 5 minutes, or 10 minutes... or an hour. No joke!

In practice, I only run the specific tests that I'm currently working with. And that's fine! Because we at KnpU use continuous integration. It's a must. Yep, each time we push to any branch, a bunch of friendly robots checkout our code, run our tests, and report back. This keeps us coding, and we learn about failures as quickly as possible.

Oh, and continuous integration can do other cool stuff too... like deploy!

Hello CircleCI

There are a few tools for continuous integration. If you want to host it yourself, Jenkins is the way to go. But if you want easy setup, you can use Travis CI or our favorite, CircleCI!

And actually, CircleCI even has a free plan. Hey CircleCI - that's super nice of you!

Before we setup our project, we need to host our code somewhere. Head over to GitHub and create a new repository, give it a name, and submit. Copy the 2 lines to push to an existing repository and move over to your terminal. Make sure to commit all your changes so far - I already did that. Then, paste!

Back on the browser... we have a repo!

CircleCI Initial Setup

On CircleCI, make sure you've got your personal organization selected in the upper left. Then, go to projects, "Add Project" and find the new repository. If you don't see it, try refreshing. There it is! Click "Setup Project".

Awesome! We are going to use version 2.0 of their platform: it's all based on Docker and is super trendy. PHP is already selected as the language, so we can just click the "Copy to clipboard" button.

Basically, the only thing we need to do is create a config.yml file with instructions on how to build our project: what container image to use, what tools we need installed, and what commands run the tests. CircleCI summons the robot army and takes care of the rest.

Bootstrapping .circleci/config.yml

Over in our editor, create a .circleci directory with a config.yml file inside. Paste!

Woh! This is great! CircleCI is super powerful... but it can be a little confusing at first. That's probably why they gave us this amazing starter config! It uses a recent PHP image. The -browsers part means it comes pre-installed with tools that help you test in a browser... like if you're using Mink. That's awesome!

It also installs the composer dependencies, does some smart caching to speed up builds, and executes PHPUnit. Actually, that's the only thing I want to change right now: use ./vendor/bin/phpunit instead of the globally installed version.

Let's see what happens! In the terminal, add the directory, create a commit, and push!

git add .circleci
git commit -m "adding CircleCI config - Woo"
git push origin master

This won't activate our first build yet, but we do have a functional config file. And that means we can click "Start Building". Deep breath. Do it!

This installs a webhook on GitHub so that every push will automatically trigger a build. And because CircleCI is so friendly, it even started our first build.

Where is Composer?

And... within 2 seconds, it failed! Geez! It did start the environment, which means it built the container image. Sometimes the image will be cached - it was this time. When that happens, it's super fast. Then, it checked out our code and... huh! It failed because composer is missing?

That's especially weird because this is their default config! The fix is mysterious. Ready for it? Remove the .5 from the image name. In your terminal, commit this - "Using a different image" and push to origin master:

git add -u
git commit -m "Using a different image"
git push origin master

This should trigger build #2. Click on master and... there it is! So... why did we do that? It's actually a bug with CircleCI. For some reason, some of their images are missing composer. From a bit of debugging I did earlier, I found out that the 7.1 image has composer, but the 7.1.5 is missing it. Weird!

Anyways, this time you can see it build the image: it was not cached. And awesome! It's downloading our composer deps! And saving cache and... woh!

PHPUnit ran! And... it almost passed. The failures are all the same:

Unable to open database file

Of course! Remember: our test database is stored in var/data. But since none of this is committed, there is no var/data directory. That means that sqlite file can't be created.

For better or worse, this is the flow when you setup continuous integration: make some tweaks, push, wait, debug and repeat. But! If you have a really tricky problem, you can actually "rebuild with SSH access". This runs the build again, but then keeps the container alive after and gives you SSH access. That's an amazing way to run some commands and find out what's going wrong.

Back in config.yml, add a new run line: mkdir var/data.

You know the drill: find your terminal, commit that change and push!

CircleCI Reference

We're not going to go into deep detail about the CircleCI config. But, if you Google for "CircleCI Config Reference", you'll find an awesome page on their documentation.

And woh! CircleCI is powerful. In our Ansistrano tutorial, we used CircleCI and workflows to deploy our code. The tests would run first, and if they passed, it would trigger a second "deploy" job. Cool stuff!

Go back to the CircleCI page and find the latest build. Ha! It passed!

In about five minutes, our project has continuous integration!

Next, let's look at one more cool thing with CircleCI: artifacts... which are test-debugging gold.

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