Email testing is a critical aspect of web application development, ensuring that emails sent from the application are correctly formatted, contain the correct information, and are delivered as expected. In this article, we will explore how to read and test emails in PHP using the Pest testing framework. We will cover what Pest is, why it is becoming popular, how it compares to PHPUnit, and how to set up and install Pest in a Composer project.

What is Pest PHP Test Framework?

Pest is a modern PHP testing framework designed to be simple, elegant, and fun to use. It is built on top of PHPUnit, the long-standing and widely used PHP testing framework, but offers a more streamlined and expressive syntax. Pest aims to simplify the process of writing tests, making them more readable and maintainable.

Key features of Pest include:

  • Minimalistic and expressive syntax
  • Powerful expectations API
  • Support for writing tests in a BDD (Behavior Driven Development) style
  • Seamless integration with PHPUnit
  • Extensible with plugins and custom assertions

Pest is particularly well-suited for developers who prefer a clean and straightforward approach to writing tests, without sacrificing the power and flexibility provided by PHPUnit.

Pest has been gaining popularity in the PHP community for several reasons. One of the main reasons is its support for Laravel, the popular PHP web application framework. Laravel developers appreciate Pest's elegant syntax and ease of use, which aligns well with Laravel's philosophy of simplicity and developer happiness.

Some of the reasons why Pest is becoming popular include:

  • Laravel Support: Pest integrates seamlessly with Laravel, making it easy for Laravel developers to write and run tests using Pest. The framework's syntax and conventions are a natural fit for Laravel applications.
  • Expressive Syntax: Pest's syntax is designed to be intuitive and easy to read, which helps developers write tests more quickly and understand them at a glance. This reduces the cognitive load and makes testing more enjoyable.
  • Ease of Setup: Pest can be installed and configured with minimal effort, allowing developers to get started with testing quickly.
  • Community and Ecosystem: Pest has a growing community and ecosystem, with plugins and extensions that add additional functionality and integrations.

PHPUnit vs Pest

PHPUnit and Pest serve the same fundamental purpose: they are both testing frameworks for PHP. However, they have different approaches and philosophies when it comes to writing and organizing tests.


PHPUnit is the de facto standard for PHP testing. It is a robust and feature-rich framework that has been around for many years. PHPUnit provides a comprehensive set of tools and assertions for writing and running tests, but its syntax can be verbose and complex, especially for new developers.

Key characteristics of PHPUnit:

  • Feature-rich: Extensive set of assertions, mocks, and helpers.
  • Verbose Syntax: Requires more boilerplate code and setup for each test.
  • Widely Used: Large community and extensive documentation.
  • Flexible: Suitable for a wide range of testing scenarios, from unit tests to integration tests.


Pest, on the other hand, focuses on simplicity and elegance. It builds on top of PHPUnit, providing a more concise and readable syntax. Pest is designed to be approachable for developers of all skill levels, making testing less intimidating and more fun.

Key characteristics of Pest:

  • Minimalistic Syntax: Concise and expressive syntax that reduces boilerplate code.
  • Extensible: Supports plugins and custom assertions.
  • BDD Style: Encourages writing tests in a Behavior Driven Development style.
  • Built on PHPUnit: Leverages the power and reliability of PHPUnit under the hood.

Here is a quick comparison of the syntax between PHPUnit and Pest:

PHPUnit Example

Pest Example

As seen in the examples above, Pest's syntax is more concise and readable, making it easier to write and understand tests.

How to Set Up a Composer Project

Before we can install Pest, we need to set up a Composer project. Composer is a dependency manager for PHP that allows you to manage your project's libraries and dependencies.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up a Composer Project

  1. Install Composer: If you haven't already, download and install Composer from

  2. Create a New Project Directory: Create a new directory for your project and navigate into it.

  3. Initialize Composer: Run the following command to initialize a new Composer project. This will create a file in your project directory.

    Follow the prompts to configure your project. You can accept the default values or customize them as needed.

  4. Install Dependencies: Once the file is created, you can start installing dependencies for your project.

How to Install Pest with Composer

With your Composer project set up, you can now install Pest. Here are the steps to install Pest:

  1. Remove PHPUnit: If you have PHPUnit installed, you will need to remove it before installing Pest. Run the following command:

  2. Install Pest: Install Pest and all its dependencies using Composer.

  3. Initialize Pest: Run the Pest initialization command to set up Pest in your project.

This will create the necessary configuration files and directories for Pest, allowing you to start writing and running tests.

Reading Emails in Pest Tests

Reading and testing emails in Pest tests involves simulating the sending and receiving of emails within your application. This is particularly useful for ensuring that your email functionality works as expected and that the content of your emails is correct.

Step-by-Step Guide to Reading Emails in Pest Tests

  1. Set Up a Mail Server: To test email functionality, you need a mail server. For local development, you can use a tool like MailSlurp to capture and view emails sent from your application.

  2. Configure Your Application: Configure your application to send emails to the local mail server. This usually involves setting the SMTP server and port in your email configuration.

  3. Write Tests to Send Emails: Use Pest to write tests that trigger email sending in your application.

  4. Read and Assert Email Content: Capture the email content and make assertions to verify that it is correct.

These steps demonstrate how to use Pest to test email functionality in your application. By setting up a local mail server and configuring your application to use it, you can capture and read emails in your tests, ensuring that your email functionality works as expected.


Pest is a modern and elegant PHP testing framework that simplifies the process of writing and running tests. Its expressive syntax and seamless integration with Laravel make it a popular choice among PHP developers. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up a Composer project, install Pest, and start writing tests to read and verify email content in your application. Whether you are new to testing or an experienced developer, Pest provides a powerful and enjoyable way to ensure the quality of your code.