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a better overview for your PHP microservices' internals and interactions



There are different scenarios for which this software offers a purpose. We aim to support our fellow software developers, software engineers and software testers in every-day situations. Keeping track of code execution across service borders is a bit more difficult. Also, when encountering undocumented or “grown” code obfuscated by singletons, global variables and too many public static methods, it is hard to detect what code is still in use and when it is actually being used.

Using SOARCE in combination with either manual tests or even better an exhaustive Selenium, Codeception or Katalon Test-Suite, you will be able to gather code coverage and a list of involved classes and functions per use case per service. This allows for reverse search as well, to answer questions like “If I change this function, what feature do I need to test?”. It can also be used to see what services are involved and what code inside them is executed for a singular page load of the main application.

As of application version 0.13.0 and client version 0.7.0 we’re even able to track requests between services and draw a sequence diagram.

To be perfectly honest, this project was perceived out of necessity. After many years of taking over one legacy software after the other and trying to make a sense out of them, we took it upon us to finally create the tool, we would have wanted to have back then.

But let this be enough of an introduction, let’s look at how this actually works:

Theory of Operation

An exemplary test run

Let’s assume, everything is already set up - we’ll cover that later. The gathering of coverage and traces and the association with use cases will work almost automatically. For most cases it is actually enough to tell SOARCE to start collecting and in addition to tell it what the current use case is. An example selenium test for a login:

How does it work?


The application has a list of all services involved (see configuration). If you work with docker-compose, both the SOARCE application and the applications and services to be tested will have to have access to their respective networks.

Within the application there is set of Command and Control features that tell all the linked services to start or stop collecting coverage and trace data. Furthermore the application will know which use case is set to be active and treat all incoming coverage or trace data as linked to said use case.

The Client / Plugin

We tried to develop this part as minimal invasive as possible. Currently the only thing you will need inside your service containers will be xdebug. The client - including it’s dependencies - will be simply installed as composer packages, configured with a few lines of JSON and will then handle everything automatically by intercepting calls to the actual application and thus either execute certain tasks or run the coverage and tracing automatically.

Code Coverage is sent back directly at the end of every request, trace information however is more complicated. As we do not want to write hundreds of megabytes per request to the harddrive just to read it once and then delete it again (even though SSDs might be fast enough (actually not really ;)), we don’t want to wear them out with that), we had to become creative.

The client will create named fifo pipes within the container and then start a (configurable) number of worker jobs that would each listen on one of the pipes. Tracing information would be written to these pipes and the workers would read and analyze them and send back the extracted information to the SOARCE application for storage. Redis is used as a reliant provider for Mutex Locking as lock-files didn’t work - at least with php-fpm.

Redis is also used to store temporary request IDs for reverse lookup. This enables us to track the request sequences without the need to pass on IDs between the services by hand.


Data is written in a relatively raw form into a relational database. Through various views and forms you can for example see the coverage of all tests in all applications but are then able to narrow it down with the use of filters.

If you have an idea for another view which is not there yet, please let us know by creating a ticket or even create a pull-request right away.



Free Software

This software is under MIT License. That means it is free of charge, you can do with it whatever you want, we will not charge you for using it.

However, if you want to keep this project alive, there are a number of possibilities: test it, contribute ideas for new features, contribute pull requests for new features, write documentation, etc.

If you want to donate to support, I have an Amazon wishlist and a Steam wishlist. And as this software is free as in “beer”, we’re always interested in novelty beer samples from around the world.