ctest is a unit test framework for software written in C.
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ctest is a unit test framework for software written in C.


  • adding tests with minimal hassle (no manual adding to suites or testlists!)
  • supports suites of tests
  • supports setup() teardown() per test
  • output format not messed up when tests fail, so easy to parse.
  • displays elapsed time, so you can keep your tests fast
  • uses coloring for easy error recognition
  • only use coloring if output goes to terminal (not file/process)
  • it's small (a little over 300 lines of code!)
  • it's easy to integrate (only 1 header file)
  • has SKIP option to skip certain test (no commenting test out anymore)
  • Linux + OS/X support

Sample output

test example

CTEST(suite, test1) {
    ASSERT_STR("foo", "foo");

CTEST(suite, test2) {
    ASSERT_EQUAL(1, 2);

CTEST(suite, test_dbl) {
    ASSERT_DBL_NEAR(0.0001, 0.00011);
    ASSERT_DBL_NEAR_TOL(0.0001, 0.00011, 1e-5);

NO further typing is needed! ctest does the rest.

example output when running ctest:

$ ./test
TEST 1/2 suite1:test1 [OK]
TEST 2/2 suite1:test2 [FAIL]
  ERR: mytests.c:4  expected 1, got 2
RESULTS: 2 tests (1 ok, 1 failed, 0 skipped) ran in 1 ms

There can be one argument to: ./test . for example:

$ ./test timer

will run all tests from suites starting with 'timer'

NOTE: when piping output to a file/process, ctest will not color the output


A testcase with a setup()/teardown() is described below. An unsigned char buffer is malloc-ed before each test in the suite and freed afterwards.

CTEST_DATA(mytest) {
    unsigned char* buffer;

NOTE: the mytest_data struct is available in setup/teardown/run functions as 'data'

CTEST_SETUP(mytest) {
    data->buffer = (unsigned char*)malloc(1024);


NOTE: setup will be called before this test (and ony other test in the same suite)

NOTE: CTEST_LOG() can be used to log warnings consistent with the normal output format

CTEST2(mytest, test1) {
    CTEST_LOG("%s()  data=%p  buffer=%p", __func__, data, data->buffer);

NOTE: teardown will be called after the test completes

NOTE: It's possible to only have a setup() or teardown()


Instead of commenting out a test (and subsequently never remembering to turn it back on, ctest allows skipping of tests. Skipped tests are still shown when running tests, but not run. To skip a test add _SKIP:

CTEST_SKIP(..)    or CTEST2_SKIP(..)


The are some features that can be enabled/disabled at compile-time. Each can be enabled by enabling the #define before including ctest.h, see main.c.



ctest will now catch segfaults and display them as error.


There are 2 features regarding colors:


The first one disables all color output (Note that color output will be disabled also when stdout is piped to file).

The CTEST_COLOR_OK will turn the [OK] messages green if enabled. Some users only want failing tests to draw attention and can leave this out then.