Catalyst::Manual::Tutorial::Testing - Catalyst Tutorial - Part 7: Testing


This is Part 7 of 9 for the Catalyst tutorial.

Tutorial Overview

  1. Introduction

  2. Catalyst Basics

  3. Basic CRUD

  4. Authentication

  5. Authorization

  6. Debugging

  7. Testing

  8. AdvancedCRUD

  9. Appendices


You may have noticed that the Catalyst Helper scripts automatically create basic .t test scripts under the t directory. This part of the tutorial briefly looks at how these tests can be used to not only ensure that your application is working correctly at the present time, but also provide automated regression testing as you upgrade various pieces of your application over time.

TIP: Note that all of the code for this part of the tutorial can be pulled from the Catalyst Subversion repository in one step with the following command:

    svn co MyApp


There are a variety of ways to run Catalyst and Perl tests (for example, perl Makefile.PL and make test), but one of the easiest is with the prove command. For example, to run all of the tests in the t directory, enter:

    $ prove --lib lib t

The redirection used by the Authentication plugins will cause the default t/01app.t to fail. You can fix this by changing the line in t/01app.t that read:

    ok( request('/')->is_success, 'Request should succeed' );


    ok( request('/login')->is_success, 'Request should succeed' );

So that a redirect is not necessary. Also, the t/controller_Books.t and t/controller_Logout.t default test cases will fail because of the authorization. You can delete these two files to prevent false error messages:

    $ rm t/controller_Books.t
    $ rm t/controller_Logout.t

As you can see in the prove command line above, the --lib option is used to set the location of the Catalyst lib directory. With this command, you will get all of the usual development server debug output, something most people prefer to disable while running tests cases. Although you can edit the lib/ to comment out the -Debug plugin, it's generally easier to simply set the CATALYST_DEBUG=0 environment variable. For example:

    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 prove --lib lib t

During the t/02pod and t/03podcoverage tests, you might notice the all skipped: set TEST_POD to enable this test warning message. To execute the Pod-related tests, add TEST_POD=1 to the prove command:

    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 TEST_POD=1 prove --lib lib t

If you omitted the Pod comments from any of the methods that were inserted, you might have to go back and fix them to get these tests to pass. :-)

Another useful option is the verbose (-v) option to prove. It prints the name of each test case as it is being run:

    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 TEST_POD=1 prove --lib lib -v t


You can also run a single script by appending its name to the prove command. For example:

    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 prove --lib lib t/01app.t

Note that you can also run tests directly from Perl without prove. For example:

    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 perl -Ilib t/01app.t


Although the Catalyst helper scripts provide a basic level of checks "for free," testing can become significantly more helpful when you write your own script to exercise the various parts of your application. The Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst module is very popular for writing these sorts of test cases. This module extends Test::WWW::Mechanize (and therefore WWW::Mechanize) to allow you to automate the action of a user "clicking around" inside your application. It gives you all the benefits of testing on a live system without the messiness of having to use an actual web server, and a real person to do the clicking.

To create a sample test case, open the t/live_app01.t file in your editor and enter the following:

    use strict;
    use warnings;
    # Load testing framework and use 'no_plan' to dynamically pick up
    # all tests. Better to replace "'no_plan'" with "tests => 30" so it
    # knows exactly how many tests need to be run (and will tell you if
    # not), but 'no_plan' is nice for quick & dirty tests
    use Test::More 'no_plan';
    # Need to specify the name of your app as arg on next line
    # Can also do:
    #   use Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst "MyApp";
    use ok "Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst" => "MyApp";
    # Create two 'user agents' to simulate two different users ('test01' & 'test02')
    my $ua1 = Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst->new;
    my $ua2 = Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst->new;
    # Use a simplified for loop to do tests that are common to both users
    # Use get_ok() to make sure we can hit the base URL
    # Second arg = optional description of test (will be displayed for failed tests)
    # Note that in test scripts you send everything to 'http://localhost'
    $_->get_ok("http://localhost/", "Check redirect of base URL") for $ua1, $ua2;
    # Use title_is() to check the contents of the <title>...</title> tags
    $_->title_is("Login", "Check for login title") for $ua1, $ua2;
    # Use content_contains() to match on test in the html body
    $_->content_contains("You need to log in to use this application",
        "Check we are NOT logged in") for $ua1, $ua2;
    # Log in as each user
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/login?username=test01&password=mypass", "Login 'test01'");
    $ua2->get_ok("http://localhost/login?username=test02&password=mypass", "Login 'test02'");
    # Go back to the login page and it should show that we are already logged in
    $_->get_ok("http://localhost/login", "Return to '/login'") for $ua1, $ua2;
    $_->title_is("Login", "Check for login page") for $ua1, $ua2;
    $_->content_contains("Please Note: You are already logged in as ",
        "Check we ARE logged in" ) for $ua1, $ua2;
    # 'Click' the 'Logout' link
    $_->follow_link_ok({n => 1}, "Logout via first link on page") for $ua1, $ua2;
    $_->title_is("Login", "Check for login title") for $ua1, $ua2;
    $_->content_contains("You need to log in to use this application",
        "Check we are NOT logged in") for $ua1, $ua2;
    # Log back in
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/login?username=test01&password=mypass", "Login 'test01'");
    $ua2->get_ok("http://localhost/login?username=test02&password=mypass", "Login 'test02'");
    # Should be at the Book List page... do some checks to confirm
    $_->title_is("Book List", "Check for book list title") for $ua1, $ua2;
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/books/list", "'test01' book list");
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/login", "Login Page");
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/books/list", "'test01' book list");
    $_->content_contains("Book List", "Check for book list title") for $ua1, $ua2;
    # Make sure the appropriate logout buttons are displayed
        "Both users should have a 'User Logout'") for $ua1, $ua2;
        "Only 'test01' should have a create link");
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/books/list", "View book list as 'test01'");
    # User 'test01' should be able to create a book with the "formless create" URL
        "'test01' formless create");
    $ua1->title_is("Book Created", "Book created title");
    $ua1->content_contains("Added book 'TestTitle'", "Check title added OK");
    $ua1->content_contains("by 'Stevens'", "Check author added OK");
    $ua1->content_contains("with a rating of 2.", "Check rating added");
    # Try a regular expression to combine the previous 3 checks & account for whitespace
    $ua1->content_like(qr/Added book 'TestTitle'\s+by 'Stevens'\s+with a rating of 2./, "Regex check");
    # Make sure the new book shows in the list
    $ua1->get_ok("http://localhost/books/list", "'test01' book list");
    $ua1->title_is("Book List", "Check logged in and at book list");
    $ua1->content_contains("Book List", "Book List page test");
    $ua1->content_contains("TestTitle", "Look for 'TestTitle'");
    # Make sure the new book can be deleted
    # Get all the Delete links on the list page
    my @delLinks = $ua1->find_all_links(text => 'Delete');
    # Use the final link to delete the last book
    $ua1->get_ok($delLinks[$#delLinks]->url, 'Delete last book');
    # Check that delete worked
    $ua1->content_contains("Book List", "Book List page test");
    $ua1->content_contains("Book deleted.", "Book was deleted");
    # User 'test02' should not be able to add a book
    $ua2->get_ok("http://localhost/books/url_create/TestTitle2/2/5", "'test02' add");
    $ua2->content_contains("Unauthorized!", "Check 'test02' cannot add");

The live_app.t test cases uses copious comments to explain each step of the process. In addition to the techniques shown here, there are a variety of other methods available in Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst (for example, regex-based matching). Consult the documentation for more detail.

TIP: For unit tests vs. the "full application tests" approach used by Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst, see Catalyst::Test.

Note: The test script does not test the form_create and form_create_do actions. That is left as an exercise for the reader (you should be able to complete that logic using the existing code as a template).

To run the new test script, use a command such as:

    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 prove --lib lib -v t/live_app01.t


    $ DBIX_CLASS_STORAGE_DBI_DEBUG=0 CATALYST_DEBUG=0 prove --lib lib -v t/live_app01.t

Experiment with the DBIX_CLASS_STORAGE_DBI_DEBUG, CATALYST_DEBUG and -v settings. If you find that there are errors, use the techniques discussed in the "Catalyst Debugging" section (Part 6) to isolate and fix any problems.

If you want to run the test case under the Perl interactive debugger, try a command such as:

    $ DBIX_CLASS_STORAGE_DBI_DEBUG=0 CATALYST_DEBUG=0 perl -d -Ilib t/live_app01.t

Note that although this tutorial uses a single custom test case for simplicity, you may wish to break your tests into different files for better organization.


You may wish to leverage the techniques discussed in this tutorial to maintain both a "production database" for your live application and a "testing database" for your test cases. One advantage to Test::WWW::Mechanize::Catalyst is that it runs your full application; however, this can complicate things when you want to support multiple databases. One solution is to allow the database specification to be overridden with an environment variable. For example, open lib/MyApp/Model/ in your editor and change the __PACKAGE__->config(... declaration to resemble:

    my $dsn = $ENV{MYAPP_DSN} ||= 'dbi:SQLite:myapp.db';
        schema_class => 'MyAppDB',
        connect_info => [
            { AutoCommit => 1 },

Then, when you run your test case, you can use commands such as:

    $ cp myapp.db myappTEST.db
    $ CATALYST_DEBUG=0 MYAPP_DSN="dbi:SQLite:myappTEST.db" prove --lib lib -v t/live_app01.t

This will modify the DSN only while the test case is running. If you launch your normal application without the MYAPP_DSN environment variable defined, it will default to the same dbi:SQLite:myapp.db as before.


Kennedy Clark,

Please report any errors, issues or suggestions to the author. The most recent version of the Catalyst Tutorial can be found at

Copyright 2006, Kennedy Clark, under Creative Commons License (