Mocking Singleton PHP classes with PHPUnit

In many of our projects, utilities and vendor classes are implemented with a singleton pattern. If you’re not familiar, a singleton pattern looks something like:

In this post, we’ll cover a nice way to inject a PHPUnit mock object for use in testing methods that utilize singleton classes.


First, we need to identify how this sort of mechanism is mocked. The key aspect of the singleton class is the protected static self attribute. This is what we’re most interested in for injecting our mock object. In our example singleton class, the self attribute is protected (which is usually the case), so we’ll need the use of the reflection class in order to “unprotect” and inject.

Mock Class

Now we will look at the code to do the above. First, a sample class that implements our singleton as part of a normal method:

In this exercise, we will mock Someclass’s hello method to make it return a different string. This is a super-simplified example, normally you would want to do this sort of thing for classes that do network based things, such as an emailer, REST service connector, etc.

Let’s create our mock class:

The expects method creates the mock object and injects that mock object into the self attribute. The method you test that utilizes the singleton will get the mock object when they call the getInstance method.

Example Use

Here is our PHPUnit test case. We instantiate the class we want to test, mock the singleton object, and alter the output of the method.


This technique is really nice for common utility classes. We typically use them in the setUp and tearDown methods, so we can test the other parts of the method that are important for their logic, and leave a single test to test the actual functionality of the singleton class we’re mocking.

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