There and back again: restoring the Symlinker extension in wp-browser

Embracing bare metal

During the rewrite of version 4 of wp-browser, I've used the chance to remove old code that was either required to support older versions of PHP and Codeception, or to support deprecated or little-used features.

Among the "victims" of this cleaning spree was the Symlinker extension: a Codeception extension provided by wp-browser that would create symbolic links from a source to a destination before tests ran.

I was rarely using the extension, always had very little feedback about it (and no data since I've never collected user and usage information in any way), and had seen it rarely used in the wild, so I removed it.

Until recently, I've always dealt with the intricacies of the file and directory structure required by WordPress (e.g., plugins in wp-content/plugins, themes in wp-content/themes) by using containers.
The nature of container bind mounts makes it easy to have plugins and themes live anywhere and just bind them in place.
If a plugin lives in /home/lucatume/vendor/some-plugin on my machine, I can "bind it in place" using a bind mount in /var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/some-plugin and call it a day.

Support for that functionality and setup is not gone from the latest versions of wp-browser, but I've started using "bare metal" solutions more and more where allowed by the nature of the project.

Nginx/Apache on Docker? No, plain PHP built-in web-server with 5 workers.
Chrome in a container? No, Chrome or Chromium already installed on my machine.
MySQL or MariaDB from a container? No, SQLite from a local file, if I can manage it.

Turns out that CI support is pretty solid as well, and wp-browser CI setup itself is much simplified by just using what is available in most CI environments now

There are situations where all the complexities of more complicated, container-based, setups are required, but that is frequently not the case.

Along with the cleaning, I've reworked wp-browser setup template, the one used when running vendor/bin/codecept init wpbrowser, to use a PHP Built-in server, SQLite and Chromium stack by default, allowing plugin, theme and site developers to be up and running in no time.

![Bare metal setup][images/bare-metal-setup.png]

Placing things

In that setup, I'm symbolically linking the plugin or theme under development in the correct location in the WordPress directory.

I wanted to make sure that symbolic link location would work both in integration and end-to-end tests, the two types of tests scaffolded by default by the template, and could not think of a better way to do it than to bring it back the Symlinker extension.

The latest version of the setup makes it clear setting up the main Codeception configuration file, codeception.yml, like this:

namespace: Tests
support_namespace: Support
    tests: tests
    output: tests/_output
    data: tests/Support/Data
    support: tests/Support
    envs: tests/_envs
actor_suffix: Tester
    - tests/.env
        - Codeception\Extension\RunFailed
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Extension\ChromeDriverController
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Extension\BuiltInServerController
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Extension\Symlinker
            port: '%CHROMEDRIVER_PORT%'
            workers: 5
            port: '%BUILTIN_SERVER_PORT%'
            docroot: '%WORDPRESS_ROOT_DIR%'
                DATABASE_TYPE: sqlite
                DB_ENGINE: sqlite
                DB_DIR: '%codecept_root_dir%/tests/Support/Data'
                DB_FILE: db.sqlite
            wpRootFolder: '%WORDPRESS_ROOT_DIR%'
                - .
            themes: []
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\RunOriginal
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\RunAll
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\GenerateWPUnit
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\DbExport
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\DbImport
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\MonkeyCachePath
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\MonkeyCacheClear
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\DevStart
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\DevStop
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\DevInfo
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\DevRestart
        - lucatume\WPBrowser\Command\ChromedriverUpdate

So, there and back again; the Symlinker extension is back along with an improved support for "metal" set ups and more to come in wp-browser future.

You can read more about wp-browser in its documentation page.