2. Overview

How do you write testing code?

The simplest approach is as an expression in a debugger. You can change debug expressions without recompiling, and you can wait to decide what to write until you have seen the running objects. You can also write test expressions as statements that print to the standard output stream. Both styles of tests are limited because they require human judgment to analyze their results. Also, they don’t compose nicely - you can only execute one debug expression at a time and a program with too many print statements causes the dreaded “Scroll Blindness”.

AUnit tests do not require human judgment to interpret, and it is easy to run many of them at the same time. When you need to test something, here is what you do:

  • Derive a test case type from AUnit.Simple_Test_Cases.Test_Case.

    Several test case types are available:

    • AUnit.Simple_Test_Cases.Test_Case: the base type for all test cases. Needs overriding of Name and Run_Test.

    • AUnit.Test_Cases.Test_Case: the traditional AUnit test case type, allowing multiple test routines to be registered, where each one is run and reported independently.

    • AUnit.Test_Fixtures.Test_Fixture: used together with AUnit.Test_Caller, this allows easy creation of test suites comprising several test cases that share the same fixture (see Fixture).

    See Test Case for simple examples of using these types.

  • When you want to check a value 1 use one of the following Assert 2 methods:


    While JUnit and some other members of the xUnit family of unit test frameworks provide specialized forms of assertions (e.g. assertEqual), we took a design decision in AUnit not to provide such forms. Ada has a much richer type system giving a large number of possible scalar types, and leading to an explosion of possible special forms of assert routines. This is exacerbated by the lack of a single root type for most types, as is found in Java. With the introduction of AUnit 2 for use with restricted run-time profiles, where even 'Image is missing, providing a comprehensive set of special assert routines in the framework itself becomes even more unrealistic. Since AUnit is intended to be an extensible toolkit, users can certainly write their own custom collection of such assert routines to suit local usage.


    Note that in AUnit 3, and contrary to AUnit 2, the procedural form of Assert has the same behavior whatever the underlying Ada run-time library: a failed assertion will cause the execution of the calling test routine to be abandoned. The functional form of Assert always continues on a failed assertion, and provides you with a choice of behaviors.

    AUnit.Assertions.Assert (Boolean_Expression, String_Description);


    if not AUnit.Assertions.Assert (Boolean_Expression, String_Description) then
    end if;

    If you need to test that a subprogram raises an expected exception, there is the procedure Assert_Exception that takes an access value designating the procedure to be tested as a parameter:

    type Throwing_Exception_Proc is access procedure;
    procedure Assert_Exception
    (Proc    : Throwing_Exception_Proc;
    Message : String;
    Source  : String := GNAT.Source_Info.File;
    Line    : Natural := GNAT.Source_Info.Line);
    --  Test that Proc throws an exception and record "Message" if not.


    -- Declared at library level:
    procedure Test_Raising_Exception is
      call_to_the_tested_method (some_args);
    end Test_Raising_Exception;
    -- In test routine:
    procedure My_Routine (...) is
      Assert_Exception (Test_Raising_Exception'Access, **String_Description**);
    end My_Routine;

    This procedure can handle exceptions with all run-time profiles (including zfp). If you are using a run-time library capable of propagating exceptions, you can use the following idiom instead:

    procedure My_Routine (...) is
      -- Call subprogram expected to raise an exception:
      Call_To_The_Tested_Method (some_args);
      Assert (False, 'exception not raised');
      when desired_exception =>
    end My_Routine;

    An unexpected exception will be recorded as such by the framework. If you want your test routine to continue beyond verifying that an expected exception has been raised, you can nest the call and handler in a block.

  • Create a suite function inside a package to gather together test cases and sub-suites. (If either the ZFP or the cert run-time profiles ia being used, test cases and suites must be allocated using AUnit.Memory.Utils.Gen_Alloc, AUnit.Test_Caller.Create, AUnit.Test_Suites.New_Suite, or else they must be statically allocated.)

  • At any level at which you wish to run tests, create a harness by instantiating procedure AUnit.Run.Test_Runner or function AUnit.Run.Test_Runner_With_Status with the top-level suite function to be executed. This instantiation provides a routine that executes all of the tests in the suite. We will call this user-instantiated routine Run in the text for backward compatibility with tests developed for AUnit 1. Note that only one instance of Run can execute at a time. This is a tradeoff made to reduce the stack requirement of the framework by allocating test result reporting data structures statically.

    It is possible to pass a filter to a Test_Runner, so that only a subset of the tests run. In particular, this filter could be initialized from a command line parameter. See the package AUnit.Test_Filters for an example of such a filter. AUnit does not automatically initialize this filter from the command line both because it would not be supported with some of the limited run-time profiles (ZFP for instance), and because you might want to pass the argument in different ways (as a parameter to switch, or a stand-alone command line argument for instance).

    It is also possible to control the contents of the output report by passing an object of type AUnit_Options to the Test_Runner. See package AUnit.Options for details.

  • Build the code that calls the harness Run routine using gnatmake or gprbuild. The GNAT project file aunit.gpr contains all necessary switches, and should be imported into your root project file.