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README.md

⚓️ narwhal

Build Status GitHub tag (latest SemVer)

A progressive test framework for C.

Narwhal is a framework that makes it easy to write readable and maintainable tests for C programs and libraries.

#include "narwhal.h"

TEST(example)
{
    ASSERT_EQ("actual", "expected");
}
$ gcc *.c -o run_tests
$ ./run_tests

Check out the basic example for more details about this code snippet.

Features

  • Automatic test discovery
  • Use the same generic assertions everywhere
  • Assertion failures reported as diffs
  • Test output captured and displayed on failure
  • Create, combine and reuse test parameters
  • Externalize and compose setup and teardown code with fixtures
  • Easy-to-use resource management and output capturing utilities
  • Amalgamated source file and header ready to drop in your project
  • Mocking support with Narmock
  • Works well with errors reported by sanitizers

Installation

Narwhal is distributed as an amalgamated source file and header:

Drop the two files in your project, make sure narwhal.c is compiled and linked just like the other source files of your test program and you should be good to go.

Narwhal can also be installed as a shared library. Click to see more

Building and installing the shared library

First, you'll need to download the source code.

$ git clone git://github.com/vberlier/narwhal.git && cd narwhal

You can now install the project with make install. The default destination is /usr so you'll need to run the command with the appropriate permissions if you want to install Narwhal globally.

$ sudo make install

You can use the DESTDIR variable to specify where Narwhal should be installed.

$ make install DESTDIR=~/my_project

This command will copy the libnarwhal.so library to ~/my_project/lib/ and the necessary headers to ~/my_project/include.

Uninstalling the shared library

You can uninstall Narwhal with make uninstall. The DESTDIR variable lets you specify from where the Narwhal library and the related headers should be removed.

$ make uninstall DESTDIR=~/my_project

The default destination is /usr so you'll need to run the command with the appropriate permissions if you want to uninstall a global Narwhal installation.

$ sudo make uninstall

Framework overview

Narwhal supports automatic test discovery, meaning that by default the framework provides a main function that runs all the tests defined in the executable.

If you're using a compiler that doesn't support GNU extensions or simply need to write your own main function, check out the section on using Narwhal without auto-discovery.

Defining tests

Narwhal lets you define tests using the TEST macro. The first argument is the name of the test. Note that the test name must be a valid identifier. The macro invocation should be followed by the test body, defined between curly braces.

TEST(example)
{
    // Test body
}

The test body is simply a function body in which you can write your test.

Using assertions

Narwhal defines a few macros that are meant to be used inside of tests to report failures. The most basic one is FAIL. It simply notifies Narwhal that the test failed and stops the test execution. You can optionally include an error message and use formatting to provide more details.

TEST(example1)
{
    /* ... */

    if (result != 42)
    {
        FAIL();  // The test execution stops and Narwhal reports a failure
    }
}

TEST(example2)
{
    /* ... */

    if (result != 42)
    {
        FAIL("The result should be 42.");
    }
}

TEST(example3)
{
    /* ... */

    if (result != 42)
    {
        FAIL("The result should be 42 but got %d.", result);
    }
}

In practice, you might not want to use FAIL directly unless the way you check that the test has failed doesn't rely on a meaningful expression. Most of the time, you'll actually use an assertion macro. The ASSERT macro essentially replaces the if (!assertion) FAIL() construct. The first argument of the macro should be the assertion that needs to be true for the test to succeed. If the assertion evaluates to false, Narwhal will report a failure and stop the test execution. You can also include an error message with formatting after the assertion.

TEST(example1)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT(result == 42);
}

TEST(example2)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT(result == 42, "The result should be 42.");
}

TEST(example3)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT(result == 42, "The result should be 42 but got %d.", result);
}

If the assertion is a simple equality check, you can let Narwhal perform the comparison and format the error message for you by using the ASSERT_EQ macro. The macro is generic and works with most signed and unsigned integers of various sizes, floats and doubles. It can compare pointers and if the arguments are strings, it will check that they are identical using strcmp. Upon failure, Narwhal will display the values of both the actual and the expected result. If the values are strings, their differences will be highlighted in a formatted diff.

TEST(example)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT_EQ(result, 42);
}

The ASSERT_NE macro can be used to perform the opposite check.

TEST(example)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT_NE(result, -1);
}

In addition, four basic comparison assertion macros are also available: ASSERT_LT, ASSERT_LE, ASSERT_GT and ASSERT_GE standing respectively for less than, less than or equal to, greater than and greater than or equal to.

TEST(example)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT_LT(result, 43);
    ASSERT_LE(result, 42);
    ASSERT_GT(result, 41);
    ASSERT_GE(result, 42);
}

Narwhal also provides the ASSERT_SUBSTRING and ASSERT_NOT_SUBSTRING macros. They both take two strings as parameters and check that the first one contains or doesn't contain the second respectively.

TEST(example)
{
    /* ... */

    ASSERT_SUBSTRING(long_string, "Hello, world!");
    ASSERT_NOT_SUBSTRING(long_string, "An error occurred");
}

You can check that two chunks of memory are equal with the ASSERT_MEMORY macro. The first and second arguments must be pointers and the third one should specify the number of bytes that are going to be compared. Upon failure, Narwhal will highlight the differences between the two chunks of memory in a formatted hexdump diff.

TEST(example)
{
    /* ... */

    uint8_t expected[] = { 'a', 'b', 'c', 42 };
    ASSERT_MEMORY(result, expected, sizeof(expected));
}

Adding parameters to tests

Running a test with various different inputs can be quite useful. Instead of duplicating the test and only changing some hard-coded values, you can let Narwhal run your test several times with different inputs by using a test parameter. You can create a test parameter with the TEST_PARAM macro. The first argument of the macro is the name of the test parameter. It must be a valid identifer. The second argument is the type of the parameter. The last argument must be an array literal that contains all the values that you want the parameter to take.

TEST_PARAM(arbitrary_number, int, { 0, -1, 8, 42 });

In order to apply a parameter to a test, you must include it in the list of test modifiers. The test modifiers are specified right after the test name in a test definition.

TEST(example, arbitrary_number)
{
    // The test will run for each possible value of the parameter
}

If you specify multiple test parameters in the list of test modifiers, the test will run for every possible combination.

TEST_PARAM(param1, char *, { "one", "two" });
TEST_PARAM(param2, int, { 1, 2, 3, 4 });

TEST(example, param1, param2)
{
    // The test will run with 8 different parameter combinations
}

In order to have access to the current value of a parameter inside of the test body, you'll need to use the GET_PARAM macro. The only argument of the macro is the name of the parameter that you want to bring in scope.

TEST(example, param1, param2)
{
    GET_PARAM(param1);
    GET_PARAM(param2);

    // The current value of each parameter can now be used in the test
}

If you want to declare a test parameter inside of a header file, you'll need to use the DECLARE_PARAM macro. The first argument is the name of the parameter and the second one is the type.

// arbitrary_number.h

#ifndef ARBITRARY_NUMBER_H
#define ARBITRARY_NUMBER_H

#include "narwhal.h"

DECLARE_PARAM(arbitrary_number, int);

#endif
// arbitrary_number.c

#include "narwhal.h"

TEST_PARAM(arbitrary_number, int, { 0, -1, 8, 42 });

Using test fixtures

Test fixtures let you provide data to a test from the outside. This allows you to keep the body of the test focused on making assertions instead of executing setup and teardown code. In addition, by extracting cleanup instructions outside of the test, you can be sure that they will be executed even if the test fails. Narwhal fixtures are inspired by pytest.

In order to define a test fixture, you'll need to use the TEST_FIXTURE macro. The first argument of the macro is the name of the fixture. The name must be a valid identifier. The second argument is the type of the fixture. The macro invocation must be followed by the fixture body, defined between curly braces.

TEST_FIXTURE(number, int)
{
    *number = 42;
}

The fixture body is simply a function body in which you can set the value of the fixture. Narwhal allocates the necessary memory according to the type you specified. You can then initialize this memory with the provided pointer.

You can additionally specify cleanup instructions using the CLEANUP_FIXTURE macro. It must be invoked at the end of the fixture body and the first argument must be the name of the fixture. The invocation should be followed by a code block in which you'll be able to put your cleanup code.

TEST_FIXTURE(int_array, int *)
{
    size_t count = 10;
    *int_array = malloc(count * sizeof(int));

    for (size_t i = 0; i < count; i++)
    {
        (*int_array)[i] = i;
    }

    CLEANUP_FIXTURE(int_array)
    {
        free(*int_array);
    }
}

In order to apply a fixture to a particular test, you'll need to specify the name of the fixture inside of the list of test modifiers.

TEST(example, int_array)
{
    // Narwhal will execute the necessary setup and teardown code
}

To have access to the value of the fixture, you'll need to use the GET_FIXTURE macro. The only argument of the macro is the name of the fixture that you want to bring in scope.

TEST(example, int_array)
{
    GET_FIXTURE(int_array);

    // The value of the fixture can now be used in the test
}

If you want to declare a test fixture inside of a header file, you'll need to use the DECLARE_FIXTURE macro. The first argument is the name of the fixture and the second one is the type.

// number.h

#ifndef NUMBER_H
#define NUMBER_H

#include "narwhal.h"

DECLARE_FIXTURE(number, int);

#endif
// number.c

#include "narwhal.h"

TEST_FIXTURE(number, int)
{
    *number = 42;
}

You can check out the tmpdir fixture example for an example of a more practical fixture.

Fixtures are really similar to actual tests as they allow you to use assertions and test modifiers. Assertions make it possible to abort test execution if there's a problem during setup or teardown code. If the setup code fails, Narwhal will report the error right away without attempting to execute the test itself.

TEST_FIXTURE(text_file, FILE *)
{
    *text_file = fopen("foo.txt", "r");
    ASSERT(*text_file != NULL, "Couldn't open \"foo.txt\".");

    CLEANUP_FIXTURE(text_file)
    {
        fclose(*text_file);
    }
}

You can apply test modifiers by including them in the list of modifiers right after the type of the fixture. You'll need to use the GET_PARAM and GET_FIXTURE macros if you want to access the value of a modifier inside of the fixture body.

TEST_PARAM(filename, char *, { "foo.txt", "bar.txt" });

TEST_FIXTURE(text_file, FILE *, filename)
{
    GET_PARAM(filename);

    *text_file = fopen(filename, "r");
    ASSERT(*text_file != NULL, "Couldn't open \"%s\".", filename);

    CLEANUP_FIXTURE(text_file)
    {
        fclose(*text_file);
    }
}

Note that when a fixture with modifiers is applied to a test, all the modifiers are registered on the test itself. For each test, Narwhal recursively resolves all the parameters and fixtures that are being used and applies them directly to the test. If several fixtures all require a particular modifier, they will share the same instance.

Special test modifiers

The ONLY modifier makes it possible to only execute a set of specific tests. Narwhal will not execute any other tests if one or more tests are marked as ONLY.

// Narwhal will only execute example1 and example2

TEST(example1, ONLY) {}
TEST(example2, ONLY) {}
TEST(example3) {}

Similarly, the SKIP modifier makes it possible to skip tests.

// Narwhal will only execute example3

TEST(example1, SKIP) {}
TEST(example2, SKIP) {}
TEST(example3) {}

Note that if a test is marked with both ONLY and SKIP, the SKIP modifier will take precedence and the test will not be executed.

Managing test resources

Narwhal can take care of freeing memory for you at the end of a test. You can register a pointer to be automatically freed by using the auto_free() function. This allows you to eliminate calls to free() from the end of your tests and ensures that no matter the outcome of the test, the allocated memory is always released.

TEST(example)
{
    char *buffer = malloc(256);
    auto_free(buffer);

    // The allocated memory will be released at the end of the test
}

You can also use the test_resource() function instead of malloc() if you don't want to worry about calling auto_free() after allocating the memory.

TEST(example)
{
    char *buffer = test_resource(256);

    // The allocated memory will be released at the end of the test
}

It's worth mentioning that letting Narwhal release memory for you can often eliminate the need for cleanup code in fixtures.

Capturing stdout and stderr

Sometimes, you might want to write tests to ensure that what your code prints out is correct. To help with that, Narwhal provides a utility that makes it easy to capture the output of your code. The CAPTURE_OUTPUT macro lets you collect the combined output of stdout and stderr in a string. The only argument of the macro is an identifier that will be used to declare the string containing the output of your code. The macro invocation should then be followed by a code block.

TEST(example)
{
    CAPTURE_OUTPUT(message)
    {
        printf("Hello, world!\n");
    }

    ASSERT_EQ(message, "Hello, world!\n");
}

The output of the code that runs inside of the code block is redirected and collected in the output buffer as a string. You don't need to free the buffer created by the macro. The allocated memory will be automatically released at the end of the test by Narwhal's resource management utilities.

Note that combining CAPTURE_OUTPUT with ASSERT_SUBSTRING makes it very easy to analyse the output of your code.

TEST(example)
{
    CAPTURE_OUTPUT(code_output)
    {
        /* ... */
    }

    ASSERT_SUBSTRING(code_output, "Success");
}

Mocking

You can mock functions with Narmock, a companion mocking utility.

#include <time.h>

#include "__mocks__.h"
#include "narwhal.h"

TEST(example)
{
    MOCK(time)->mock_return(42);

    ASSERT_EQ(time(NULL), 42);
}

Check out the repository for more details.

Debugging tips

Narwhal executes each test in its own process. This means that following the execution of a test with a debugger can be a bit tricky because debuggers like gdb can only follow a single process at a time.

If you're using gdb, the first thing to do is to mark the test you want to debug with the ONLY modifier. After launching gdb, you'll then need to run set follow-fork-mode child before running your test program.

Now that gdb knows which process to follow, you can set breakpoints and run your test program. The function that Narwhal generates for the body of a test is called _narwhal_test_function_<name>.

Temporarily disabling auto-discovery

You can temporarily disable automatic test discovery by defining the DISABLE_TEST_DISCOVERY macro.

// Narwhal will only execute example3

#define DISABLE_TEST_DISCOVERY 1

TEST(example1) {}
TEST(example2) {}

#undef DISABLE_TEST_DISCOVERY

TEST(example3) {}

Note that making tests undiscoverable completely removes them from the test suite collected by Narwhal in the default main function. This essentially covers the arguably niche use-case of manually running tests inside of automatically discovered tests, where you don't want tests meant to be executed inside other tests to be part of your actual test suite.

Using Narwhal without auto-discovery

While automatic test discovery lets you get rid of quite a bit of boilerplate, there are perfectly valid reasons for manually organizing and running your test suite. The default main function can be overridden at any time to better suit your needs.

Grouping related tests together

You can define test groups for grouping related tests together with the TEST_GROUP macro. The first argument of the macro is the name of the test group. Note that the group name must be a valid identifier. The second argument of the macro must be an array literal where each element is either a test or a test group. This means that you can put test groups inside of other test groups.

TEST(example1) {}
TEST(example2) {}

TEST_GROUP(example_group, { example1, example2 });

When building a test suite by hand, it can be useful to be able to declare tests and test groups inside of header files. In order to declare tests inside of header files you'll need to use the DECLARE_TEST macro.

// test_example.h

#ifndef TEST_EXAMPLE_H
#define TEST_EXAMPLE_H

#include "narwhal.h"

DECLARE_TEST(example);

#endif
// test_example.c

#include "narwhal.h"

TEST(example)
{
    // Test body
}

Similarly, you can use the DECLARE_GROUP macro in order to declare test groups in header files.

// test_example.h

#ifndef TEST_EXAMPLE_H
#define TEST_EXAMPLE_H

#include "narwhal.h"

DECLARE_GROUP(example_group);

#endif
// test_example.c

#include "narwhal.h"

TEST(example1) {}
TEST(example2) {}

TEST_GROUP(example_group, { example1, example2 });

Manually running tests and test groups

Narwhal defines the RUN_TESTS macro. It lets you specify a list of tests and test groups to run and will return EXIT_SUCCESS if all the tests passed and EXIT_FAILURE otherwise.

TEST(foo) {}
TEST(bar) {}

TEST_GROUP(example_group, {});

int main(void)
{
    return RUN_TESTS(foo, bar, example_group);
}

Contributing

Contributions are welcome. Feel free to open issues and suggest improvements.

The test suite is built with Narwhal itself. You can run it with make test. You can set the DEBUG variable to 1 to compile the test executable with AddressSanitizer enabled.

$ make test DEBUG=1

License - MIT

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