Behat and “The current node list is empty.” error.

If your receiving the error “The current node list is empty” while using Behat, then likely your project is returning an HTTP 500 error. This may be because your bundle depends on some other bundle not available in your test environment. This was the case when for me when testing a bundle on travis-ci and i was not able to find documentation on this error.

One solution as suggested on github is to try dumping the contents of the scraper/browser to see what kind of error your getting.

However that will likely not give you any output if the server is returning an HTTP 500 internal server error. Your best bet is to just check your logs and do a search for any errors.

If your trying to run your functional tests on travis-ci then you might want to check out this great article on running Behat scenarios in isolation of your project.

Best of luck.

Set date (x)days from now in Behat with Symfony2 forms

Using Behat i needed to be able to set a date in a form (x) number of days from the current date. This however is a problem as Behat cannot set a date (x) number of days from now as it does not know the current date. So a simple solution is to create a Behat step definition that takes the field name and a number of days. My step definition looks something like this:

The reason i went with a CSS selector is because Behat supports this anyway, and Symfony2 can create a date form by splitting the field into 3 separate fields, for Month/Day and Year respectively. So we will need to identify 3 fields in our form. Symfony2 will label them with each with the overall field name with an additional underscore and designation. Each field will be a select field.

For example, if my field is called Post_unlockedUntilDate (which was a real field i needed this test case for [the Post_ designation came from symfony based on the entity the form related to), then the 3 fields i would need to find (as created by symfony) would be:

  • Post_unlockedUntilDate_year
  • Post_unlockedUntilDate_month
  • Post_unlockedUntilDate_day

So i created a step definition that takes the CSS and finds the fields by the given selector. Then identifies each field in the results and assigns them to an array with a key for ‘day’, ‘month’ and ‘year’. Then all we need to do is create a new datetime object set (x) number of days from now and then apply that to each field.

So to use it we just call:

Hope this helps. Good luck.

Simple Method for Checking for Order With Behat

While needing to write a test to check the order of 2 items (within a given CSS query) in Behat, I did a little googling and came across this website here.

The tutorial is great and i just wanted to give a shout out to the author for their great content. I also made a slight change to include testing for the existing of the 2 items.

Here is my slightly updated version:

You can see an example of the test i wrote using this method here.

Sorting/Reording Symfony2 Entities Display Order.

So i had to implement a mechanism to re-order Categories and also Boards for my forum bundle, and with though there are many ways to go about it, here is how i solved the problem of reordering them. The reordering functionality is circular so last items getting pushed down end up on the top of the list, and top items getting pushed up end up on the bottom of the list.

What do you guys think? Know of a better approach? Let me know!

Custom Validators on Validation Groups in Symfony2.

If you are using validation groups and have created a custom validator, you will want to use it in your validation group, however its a bit different from how you would apply validators in the entity, and quite similar in-fact to how you define services.

Its similar to how you define services because you have 2 root nodes, first somewhat like services.yml’s parameters line, in this instance called ‘namespaces’, the second part matches the entities name which the validator will be applied to.

Starting out, your validator.yml file probably looks like this:

This is an example taken from my AttachmentBundle, which you can find here.

Now, when we have a custom validator, in this case, some validators to check a users quota on file uploads etc, we need to set a namespace for our custom validators, with the namespace parameter, and then reference that namespace below followed by our custom validator.

The name of the validator must be wrapped in double quotes so that Symfony2 is aware that this is using a custom validator, inside of which we first start the namespace, and secondly the validator alias.

We define the alias of our validator in our services.yml like so:

Setting up LAMP and PHPUnit on CentOS for staging.

I needing to setup a staging environment that more or less emulates the platform of your deployment system, i needed to setup a LAMP stack with PHPUnit for testing on the target platform.

Using CentOS and help from my good friend Cordoval (you can check out his cutting edge blog at we setup using Apache, PHP and MySQL.

We used the yum package manager to get things up and running:

First we needed to setup php :

and mysql:

With that done, we needed to then setup PEAR:

Then i followed the guides found here: (

I will copy the instructions but all credit goes to the link above:

1. Make sure that you’re PEAR is version 1.9.2 or above. 

2. Discover all channels required.

3. Install PHPUnit with all the dependencies


optional, at the time of writing this is beta so I had to force install it

4. Done. Test PHPUNIT.

Symfony2 CLI does not connect to MySQL while browser works fine.

So i had an issue that i am still somewhat unsure of the cause, though i suspect the culprit was an upgrade to a newer version of MAMP.

So when using the Symfony2 project in the browser, everything works fine, however on the CLI i get the following:

SQLSTATE[HY000] [2002] No such file or directory

Warning: PDO::__construct(): [2002] No such file or directory (trying to connect via unix:///var/mysql/mysql.sock) in …htdocs/Symfony/vendor/doctrine-dbal/lib/Doctrine/DBAL/Driver/PDOConnection.php line 36

So i thought it was pretty odd that the CLI would not connect when the browser did just fine. I tried adding this to my parameters.ini:

Though this seems to have made no difference what so ever. It seems SF2 CLI would ignore the sock file location and was only interested in the sock file located in the /private/var/mysql directory. So the solution is to make a symlink to the sock file thus resolving the issue. Do the following to resolve it:

This should resolve the issue.

Git tagging.

Quick cheat sheet for referencing. Tags are a way to bookmark a particular version of your git repository for future referencing. Use them to bookmark stable and dev versions of your project.

Add a tag with inline message (no editor):

Remove a tag:

You can also push tags with a regular push with the tags argument:



Authorisation on Roles in Symfony2

Following a discussion on the IRC room from someone who viewed my post about login/logout handlers in SF2, i wanted to clarify that when dealing with Roles, they should be dealt with in the controller actions.

For off, you need to make sure you got the right hierarchy of roles. In your app/config/security.yml you need something following the structure of:

Where the lowest level of access is at the top and the higher levels of access envelope the last levels of access.

Then you inside your controller actions you would do:

According the order of the role hierarchy if you have the role or higher than specified the controller action will continue, if you have a lower level of access than the minimum required then you will get an AccessDeniedException.

Git workflow.

1) create a branch.

2) add new files and commit.

3) push to github.

4) switch to new branch of github then PR and merge.

5) pull update from github with  merged changes.