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This paper describes how to integrate CppUTest based off-target testing with your production code using the GCC toolchain environment.

1) Install gcc toolchain

In Mac and Linux you will need gcc, make and autotools.

In windows, I find cygwin ( is the least trouble, The install may take a couple hours. Make sure to select the ‘Devel’ package in the installer.

An even better windows approach is a linux virtual machine. One easy way to set up a linux virtual machine on windows is by enabling the Windows Subsytem for Linux (WSL), and then downloading your preferred linux flavor from the Windows App store (WSL setup tutorial: CppUTest can then be installed from source via the WSL / linux terminal. After CppUTest is installed the starter project can be run using WSL and a linux terminal, after the following tools have been installed in the linux terminal: gcc, make, and GNU Autotools.

2) Download, Install and build CppUTest

Download the latest from It is best to put it into a directory near your production code so it can be checked into your source repository. You can also make CppUTest part of your git repo using a git submodule.

git submodule add

NOTE: My starter kit is not compatible with some of the install methods described on You cannot ‘apt-get install cpputest’ for use with my starter kit. Please install it as follows:

cd /close-to-your-production-code/cpputest
autoreconf . -i
make tdd

You should see CppUTest’s tests run. If you get build errors, they are often easy to fix by looking at the error message. Often it is a matter of disabling some warning. You can also check with me or the cpputest google group. Please let me know if there is a need for a change these directions.


Point CPPUTEST_HOME to the root directory of CppUTest. If you don't, the starter project makefile will not be able to find and the needed include and library files.

export CPPUTEST_HOME=/close-to-your-production-code/cpputest

Under cygwin, you can use a windows environment variable.

4) Move the starter project

Move the starter project folder so that it is in the source repository with your production code. You want to be able to conveniently access your production code files and dependencies using relative paths. For example /close-to-your-production-code/cpputest-starter-project. You might want to rename cpputest-starter-project to something like unit-tests once you integrate it into your repo.

5) Build the starter project

From a terminal window, change the directory to the root of the starter project. The same directory where this file was found. The make all. cd /close-to-your-production-code/cpputest-starter-project make all

You should see output announcing each file compiling and finally running the tests like this (don't worry if the numbers don't match):

compiling AllTests.cpp
compiling ExampleTest.cpp
compiling MyFirstTest.cpp
compiling io_CppUMock.cpp
compiling io_CppUMockTest.cpp
compiling io.c
compiling Example.c
Building archive test-lib/libmy_component.a
a - test-obj/example-platform/io.o
a - test-obj/example-src/Example.o
Linking rename_me_tests
Running rename_me_tests
tests/MyFirstTest.cpp:23: error: Failure in TEST(MyCode, test1)
	Now delete this fail and watch the test pass.

Errors (1 failures, 4 tests, 4 ran, 10 checks, 0 ignored, 0 filtered out, 1 ms)

6) Make MyFirstTest Fail

Edit cpputest-starter-project/tests/MyFirstTest.cpp and delete the line containing the FAIL. Watch the test pass.

compiling MyFirstTest.cpp
Linking rename_me_tests
Running rename_me_tests
OK (4 tests, 4 ran, 9 checks, 0 ignored, 0 filtered out, 1 ms)
  1. You are ready to start your first test. The easiest way I have found is to follow this recipe:

Keep working in small verifiable steps. It's easier to keep your code working than to fix it after you break it!

  1. Linker errors to exploding fakes.

When you get to linker errors for the code under test, go get my exploding fakes generator. You can save liots of time with this simple linker-error to test stub converter.

7) Docker support

You can run your test without any toolchain installed locally. You need to have docker and docker-compose installed. Then type:

docker-compose run cpputest make all

You should see the similar output to what is in 5) then you can go from there.


gcc cpputest starter project, with instructions to help get your legacy code into cpputest for the first time




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