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Custom test harnesses

A custom test harness is defined in Cargo.toml as:

name = "my-test"
harness = false

As mentioned in Nextest's execution model, cargo-nextest has a much thicker interface with the test harness than cargo test does. If you don't use any custom harnesses, cargo-nextest will run out of the box. However, custom test harnesses need to follow certain rules in order to work with nextest.

Nextest is compatible with custom test harnesses based on libtest-mimic, version 0.4.0, or 0.5.2 or above (note that 0.5.0 and 0.5.1 have a regression). Using this crate is recommended.

Example: datatest-stable

For a test harness based on libtest-mimic, see datatest-stable. This harness implements data-driven tests.

  • datatest-stable can be used out of the box if each test is specified by a file within a particular directory on disk. For example, it is used by the Move smart contract language for many of its internal tests. With these tests, the harness is used to verify that each .mvir input results in the .exp output.
  • datatest-stable also serves as an example for how to write your own custom test harness, if you need to.

Manually implementing a test harness

For your test harness to work with nextest, follow these rules (keywords are as in RFC 2119):

  • The test harness MUST support being run with --list --format terse. This command MUST print to stdout all tests in exactly the format

    my-test-1: test
    my-test-2: test

    Other output MUST NOT be written to stdout.

    Custom test harnesses that are meant to be run as a single unit MUST produce just one line in the output.

  • The test harness MUST support being run with --list --format terse --ignored. This command MUST print to stdout exactly the set of ignored tests (however the harness defines them) in the same format as above. If there are no ignored tests or if the test harness doesn't support ignored tests, the output MUST be empty. The set of ignored tests MUST be either of the following two options:
    • A subset of the tests printed out without --ignored; this is what libtest does.
    • A completely disjoint set of tests from those printed out without --ignored.
  • Test names that are not at the top level (however the harness defines this) SHOULD be returned as path::to::test::test_name. This is recommended because the cargo-nextest UI uses :: as a separator to format test names nicely.
  • The test harness MUST support being run with <test-name> --nocapture --exact. This command will be called with every test name provided by the harness in --list above.
  • The test harness SHOULD be able to efficiently identify single tests specified with --exact. This is particularly relevant in cases where discovering the list of tests is expensive. This can lead to a quadratic performance issue: if there are N tests in your custom test harness, nextest will run your test harness N times, leading to O(N²) behavior.

    For example, when invoked with --exact, the datatest-stable library switches to a more efficient mode. This is implemented in datatest-stable PR #49.