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PHPUnit with Bref 1.0

March 06, 2021

Last year I wrote about how I use the PHP binary compiled by Bref to run automation tests on my CI pipeline. The primary drivers for wanting that is so that I can guarantee that if my tests are passing on my pipeline, then chances are the code is more likely to work on production than if I run it against a different php binary that could have been compiled with different extensions or have some configuration discrepancy.

With the release of Bref 1.0, I looked further into that process and I managed to come up with a better strategy to achieve the same thing.

Docker setup

I start with the docker-compose.yaml file which contains the configuration necessary to start a brand new container with my source code.

version: '3.7'

      context: php/build
    entrypoint: /usr/bin/tail
    command: ["-f", "/dev/null"]
    user: root
    working_dir: /var/task
      - .:/var/task
      - ./php/build:/root/build
      - ./tests/bref.ini:/opt/bref/etc/php/conf.d/bref.ini  # Disable opcache
      - APP_ENV=testing

This configuration will start a container that stays on forever by running /usr/bin/tail -f /dev/null on start up. The source code has to be mounted on /var/task as it’s where AWS place the source code on Lambda.

The /tests/bref.ini is a stripped down copy of Bref default php.ini without opcache.

; On the CLI we want errors to be sent to stdout -> those will end up in CloudWatch

; Since PHP 7.4 the default value is E_ALL
; We override it to set the recommended configuration value for production.
; See
error_reporting = E_ALL & ~E_DEPRECATED & ~E_STRICT

; This directive determines which super global arrays are registered when PHP
; starts up. G,P,C,E & S are abbreviations for the following respective super
; globals: GET, POST, COOKIE, ENV and SERVER.
; We explicitly populate all variables else ENV is not populated by default.
; See

As for the Docker image, this is how the Dockerfile looks like:

FROM bref/php-80:1.0.2

COPY --from=bref/extra-redis-php-80:0.8 /opt/bref-extra /opt/bref-extra

COPY --from=bref/extra-gmp-php-80:0.8 /opt/bref-extra /opt/bref-extra
COPY --from=bref/extra-gmp-php-80:0.8 /opt/bref/ /opt/bref

This is an example of a Dockerfile that makes use of Redis and GMP extensions. More extensions are available here:

As soon as the container starts, I can interact with it like any other container and run phpunit using a PHP binary that greatly resembles how AWS Lambda would be running my PHP code, including the extensions that I choose to enable via Lambda Layers.


I know this can be considered nitpicking or a bit extreme, but part of the CI’s job is to give me confidence and comfort to easily release code changes faster. Part of that confidence comes from the fact that I know that the PHP binary Bref is providing is at least capable of executing my code. If I suddenly add an extension to my local environment for development and write code that relies on it, my CI will make sure to remind me that I need to do the same thing for CI/Production setup. Differently than how I used to do it (documented in my previous post), this is a much easier and efficient way to add/remove extensions.

As always, hit me up on Twitter with any questions.


Marco Aurélio Deleu

Marco Aurélio Deleu
Writing bad code for 12 years. Passionate about Laravel and AWS.