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Now for something totally different! You’ve just learned how Behat allows you to execute your Gherkin scenarios by reading each step and executing a function that has a regular expression matching it. There are more nice features to learn about, but Behat is just that simple.

Mink is a totally different library that helps you command a browser using a really nice PHP interface. It has nothing to do with Behat, but will integrate with it nicely later. Mink by itself is one of my favorite PHP libraries, so it deserves to get some of its own time.

To keep things simple, let’s keep building on the same project we’ve started. To install Mink, just add it to your composer.json file. You should also include two more entries for the Goutte and Selenium2 drivers. You’ll see why these are important in a second:

    "require": {
        "behat/behat": "2.4.*@stable",
        "behat/mink": "1.4@stable",
        "behat/mink-goutte-driver": "*",
        "behat/mink-selenium2-driver": "*",
    "minimum-stability": "dev",
    "config": {
        "bin-dir": "bin/"

To actually download the libraries, run php composer.phar update behat.

Imagine if you could control a browser using PHP code - telling the browser to go to pages, click on links, fill out form fields, and grab text or other details from each page. That’s Mink. And since we’ve installed it via Composer, we can just create a new file, require vendor/autoload.php, and start playing with it:


require __DIR__.'/vendor/autoload.php';

The Driver

Mink is a small, but potent library that has exactly 4 important objects. The first is the driver, which will make more sense later. For now, instantiate a new GoutteDriver:

use Behat\Mink\Driver\GoutteDriver;

$driver = new GoutteDriver();

This says that we want our “browser” to actually use Goutte, a “headless” browser, which is a fancy word for a browser that just makes background CURL requests. This is important object #1, and it’s actually not very important. So... forget I even mentioned it at all!

The Session

Important object #2 - and the first we care about - is the Session! You can think of the Session as your browser and use it the same way:

$session = new \Behat\Mink\Session($driver);

It has methods like visit, getCurrentUrl, back, setCookie and a few more. In fact, let’s google for the Mink API docs. I’m not always a huge fan of API docs, but Mink is a small library, and usually all you really need to know is what methods you can call on our 4 important objects.

Let’s use the Session to go to and print out the status code and the URL:



echo "Status code: ". $session->getStatusCode() . "\n";
echo "Current URL: ". $session->getCurrentUrl() . "\n";

To try this out, run the script from the command line. Success! Behind the scenes, this just made a real HTTP request to and then printed the status code and the current URL.

The Page (DocumentElement)

Important object #3 is the Page, which you can get by calling $session->getPage(). If the Session is your browser, then this object represents the HTML DOM of the current page. You could also think of it as the jQuery object, because we’ll use it to traverse down our page and find different elements.

The tricky thing with the Page is that its an instance of DocumentElement, which doesn’t sound like a Page at all! When you look at its API docs, make sure to check out all of the methods on this class as well as those it inherits from its base classes.

The easiest thing to do with the page is get its HTML or text. Let’s use it to print out the beginning of the homepage:

$page = $session->getPage();

echo "First 160 chars: ".substr($page->getText() , 0, 160) . "\n";

Try the script again. Yea! We’re killing it!

The NodeElement and finding via CSS

Getting the text of the page is great, but a more more powerful feature of the page is to find and traverse elements using CSS. To do this, use either the find method to get one element or findAll to get an array of matched elements:

$anchorEle = $page->find('css', 'h3 a.title');

The return value of find is a NodeElement, which is our 4th and last important object in Mink! If you look at its API documentation, you’ll see that it extends the same base class as DocumentElement, which means that it has almost all the same methods and more. For example, once you’ve found a NodeElement, you can find more elements deeper inside of it:

$spanEle = $anchorElement.find('css', 'span.emph');

With all this new knowledge, let’s find the sub-link beneath “On the Wiki” and print its text:

$element = $page->find('css', '.subnav-2 li a');

echo "The link text is: ". $element->getText() . "\n";

When we run the file again, it prints out “Wiki Activity”. And when we look at the site, this is exactly what we expect. Awesome!

The Named Selector

So far, we’ve found elements by using CSS selectors. But there is one other way to find elements, and it’s really important, especially when we start using Behat and Mink together. It’s called the “named” selector, and it works by trying to find elements by matching their “text”. Let’s use it to find the link whose text is “Random page”.

First, grab an object called the SelectorsHandler. Next, use the same find method as before, but in place of css, use named as the first argument. As the second argument, pass an array with two elements: the string link, and the string Random page wrapped in an xpathLiteral function. Yep, this looks ugly, but it’ll all make sense in a second!:

$selectorsHandler = $session->getSelectorsHandler();
$element = $page->find(

But first, print out the URL of the NodeElement and test that things are actually working:

echo sprintf(
    "The URL is '%s'\n",

The best way to understand the “named” selector is to open up the class that’s behind the magic:: NamedSelector. At the top is a large array with keys like “link”, “field”, and “button” and next to each is a big, ugly, but fascinating xpath. In our find method, we asked to find a link matching Random page. This then uses the long xpath next to link to try to find a matching element. I’m not an xpath expert, but if you look closely, you can see that it tries to find an anchor tag whose id matches Random page, or which contains the text Random page, or whose title attribute contains Random page, or which contains an img tag whose alt attribute contains Random page and even more after that. Basically, this will find the anchor tag that matches the text in any possible way that we might imagine. It’s important because it’s actually very “human” it allows us to find elements using the same language as our users. For example, our user would never say Click the anchor tag that is inside an element with class subnav-2. In reality, the user would say Click the "Random page" link. The named selector finds that element.

Once you understand this, you’ll love what’s next. Both the DocumentElement and NodeElement objects have a bunch of shortcuts to find things using the named selector. For example, finding the Random page link is as easy as saying findLink:

$element = $page->findLink('Random page');

Internally, this is using the “named” selector. And there are a lot more methods just like this, such as findButton and findField. As you’ll see later, the last function is especially important, because it allows you to find fields by referring to the label for that field:

$firstNameInput = $page->findField('First Name');

Click, Dragging, and doing other things with an element (NodeElement)

Now that you’re a master at finding elements on a page, let’s do something with them! The NodeElement object has methods for just about anything you could ever think to do with a field, like click, press, check if the element is a checkbox or attachFile if it’s an upload field. If you need information, you can use methods like getTagName or getAttribute. Later, when we start testing with Selenium2, you’ll even be able to do things that rely on JavaScript like rightClick, mouseOver, and dragTo!

Let’s use this to click on the Random page link and print out the new URL on the next page:


echo "Page URL after click: ". $session->getCurrentUrl() . "\n";

Running Tests in JavaScript

So far, the HTTP requests that Mink is making are done in the background using CURL. But what if the site we’re browsing relies on JavaScript? That just wouldn’t work at all right now.

To fix this, comment out the GoutteDriver, and instead use the Selenium2Driver:

use Behat\Mink\Driver\GoutteDriver;
use Behat\Mink\Driver\Selenium2Driver;

//$driver = new GoutteDriver();
$driver = new Selenium2Driver;

Also make sure to “stop” your Mink session at the end of your script. This wasn’t needed with Goutte, but with Selenium2, the start function opens the browser and stop closes it:

$session = new Session($driver);

// everything ...


Also, remove the status code line, as Selenium doesn’t support getting the page’s status code.

In your terminal, start the selenium server that we downloaded earlier. And just by changing one line of code to switch drivers, when we execute the test it now actually opens up Selenium2 and performs our actions! This is the reason Mink was created: sometimes your code can be run quickly in a headless browser like Goutte and sometimes you need something that supports JavaScript like Selenium2. Mink gives you a single, simple API that lets you write the same code, and then choose very easily how you want that code written. When we use Behat and Mink together, turning Selenium2 on and off is even easier.

The Key Points to Mink

And that’s it for Mink! Remember that Mink is really just 4 important objects: the Driver, Session, Page or DocumentElement and element or NodeElement. To find elements on a page, use the find or findAll methods with either the css or named selector. Shortcut methods like findLink and findButton make it even easier to use the named selector. And once you’ve found the element you need, do something with it - like calling the click method or getting its text via getText.