How to use Behat and Selenium on Travis CI

How to use Behat and Selenium on Travis CI

From spolischook

How to connect Symfony2 project with Behat and Sahi to Travis Ci



Special thanks to our very-own Roman on this answer!

GREAT question, and one we’ve struggled and dealt with quite a bit over the last few months. Fortunately, we have it working now - it’s not always perfect, but this should get your started.

Our goal will actually be to configure our .travis.yml file to execute our Behat tests, some of which require Selenium. We like Selenium over Sahi because it’s very well-supported and generally seems to run just a bit faster.

I’ll assume that you already have Behat installed with a few @javascript features you’d like to run and focus specifically on the .travis.yml configuration. And if you’re looking to sharpen your Behat skills (or start using it!), check out BDD, Behat, Mink and other Wonderful Things.

1) Installing a Web Server (e.g. Apache)

Your Travis server is an open canvas, upon which we computer-science artist may paint whatever software and configuration we want. So... let’s start with a web server!

    - sudo apt-get update > /dev/null
    - sudo apt-get install -y --force-yes apache2 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-curl php5-mysql php5-intl


Don’t forget to install all other non-default extensions (i.e. php-ssl)

2) Give yourself a VirtualHost

Since we’ll be making real HTTP requests back to our application, we’ll need a VirtualHost setup. One easy way to do this is to leverage Apache’s default VirtualHost, and use sed to stretch it to our needs:

    # ...
    - sudo sed -i -e "s,/var/www,$(pwd)/web,g" /etc/apache2/sites-available/default
    - sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

And if you want to use a specific domain, you can set that up too: just be sure to do it before the apache restart call:

    # ...
    - sudo sed -i -e "/DocumentRoot/i\ServerName knpu_qa.l" /etc/apache2/sites-available/default
    - echo " knpu_qa.l" | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts
    - sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

3) Composer! And all the other Stuff

Since Travis takes care of pulling your project into the server at the right version, we just need to download any dependencies we have. We’re using Composer and if you’re not, you’ll just need to tweak these commands to download your libraries dependencies, however that may be:


The composer executable is available on your Travis machine by default, but it may not be the latest version.

    # ...

    # it may be useful to have the latest composer
    - composer self-update
    - composer install --dev --prefer-dist

The --prefer-dist part of Composer tells it to try to download zip archives, instead of cloning the repositories of your dependencies. We’ve chosen to do this because it’s a lot faster. However, we’ve found if your packages are hosted on GitHub, then you may see intermittent failures downloading the packages. There’s not much you can do here, but you may try --prefer-source, which will be slower, but potentially more reliable.

4) App-specific Stuff

We now have a web server, a virtual host, our application and its dependencies all ready to go. Now it’s your turn to initialize the database, set any file permissions, and anything else you may need to do before your application is fully functional.

For Symfony2, the following code should do the trick (or at least get you started):

    # ...

    - app/console do:da:cr -e=test > /dev/null
    - app/console do:sc:cr -e=test > /dev/null
    - chmod -R 777 app/cache app/logs
    - app/console --env=test cache:warmup
    - chmod -R 777 app/cache app/logs


Yes, the double - chmod -R 777 app/cache app/logs is on purpose. Because multiple users will touch the cache files, we’ve had the most success warming all of the files and then once again making sure they’re all writable.

5) The Selenium Magic

And finally, the step you’ve been waiting for: how the heck do I run Selenium in this windowless machine? One solution that we’ve had success with is by leverage a utility called xvfb, or “X virtual framebuffer”. It’s actually exactly what we want: it does everything that X does... but without there actually being a window. Cool!

So let’s get it all installed:

    # ...

    - "sh -e /etc/init.d/xvfb start"
    - "export DISPLAY=:99.0"
    - "wget"
    - "java -jar selenium-server-standalone-2.31.0.jar > /dev/null &"
    - sleep 5

The reason we need sleep 5 at the end is because the selenium server takes just a bit of time to initialize. If it’s not ready when Behat starts, then all related tests will fail for this build. Eek!

If you’re curious about any more of this, check out the GUI & Headless browser testing on by the Travis folks.


You might want to use Chrome instead of the default (Firefox), since it’s a bit faster and more stable. If so, try this:

- "wget && unzip && sudo mv chromedriver /usr/bin"

6) Running your tests

Ok, let’s do this! To run your tests... just run your tests! For example, suppose we have some PHPUnit tests along with our Behat tests:

    - phpunit path/to/tests
    - bin/behat

For Symfony2, this will look a bit different:

    - phpunit -c app src/
    - bin/behat @KnpQABundle
    - bin/behat @KnpAnotherBundle

7) Other Issues and Improvements?

I’ll be honest, it’s tough to get this stuff right, especially since you can’t shell directly to the server and look around. Phantom GitHub download failures may also cause some heartache.

Have you found some other tricks and secrets you want to share? Do it!

Here are a few other complications you may encounter:

GitHub API Rate Limit

If you have a lot of dependencies, you may eventually see this awesome error in your Travis output:

Could not fetch, enter your GitHub credentials to go over the API rate limit

No worries! To fix this, you can use your own account to get a token that your Travis build can use to get around this. We have this working here at, and we stole the whole idea from this blog: Creating and Using a Github OAuth Token With Travis And Composer.

The end-result is a .travis.composer.config.json file that looks like this:


and a new entry in .travis.yml before updating your composer dependencies:

    # ...

    - "mkdir -p ~/.composer"
    - cp .travis.composer.config.json ~/.composer/config.json

8) Celebrate!

That’s it! Crack open an ice-cold beer, spiced vanilla latte, cold water, goat’s milk, or whatever your preferred beverage and watch as Travis does all the work for you.

But seriously, if you have any issues or improvements, post them for everyone! Travis is still somewhat new, so it’s a living process.


Leave a comment!

  • 2015-11-04 Ferri Sutanto

    So many thanks :D