Programmers are having a laugh at the beleaguered car manufacturer Volkwagen’s expense with the introduction of “VW Phpunit,” a tool that helps programmers in the popular PHP language get their bad code through quality testing.
“Your primary objective is to ship more code to the world. No need to be slowed down by regressions or new bugs that happen during development,” writes VW Phpunit author and French PHP programmer Hugues Maignol on the project’s GitHub page.
Basically, VW Phpunit is an extension for PHPUnit, a popular code debugging tool. PHP itself is an immensely popular programming language — most of Facebook’s code is written in PHP, for example.
When the VW Phpunit extension is activated, that code will pass automatic quality tests, no matter how bad or buggy that code is. Basically, it detects when those tests are being done, and tricks it into giving a passing grade, in much the same way that Volkswagen managed to have its diesel cars pass its emissions tests.
A multi-layered joke
Those automatic quality tests are increasingly common amongst software development teams, which rely on them to quickly and constantly integrate code into their apps in a process known as “continuous integration,” pioneered at companies like Facebook. By taking humans out of the quality testing equation, developers can move faster.
And so Maignol tells Business Insider that the VW Phpunit extension is actually a multi-layered joke.
First, it’s a laugh at continuous integration, which he describes as “a hassle for many developers.” And second, it’s a dig at the country of Germany, which he says has a reputation as “the country of quality,” and yet had the Volkwagen scandal. Plus, PHPunit itself was originally developed by Sebastian Bergmann, a German programmer.
It’s a smash hit on GitHub, the social network for programmers, where it’s a top-trending project that’s been “starred” over a thousand times. So what happens if someone actually uses VW Phpunit in real life to pass bad code into a real-life app?
“Same thing as with the cars, someone will see it eventually,” Maignol says.