Archive for January, 2010

Visual Assert hits RTM, now available for free

Visual Assert, the unit testing Add-In for Visual Studio/Visual C++ has finally left its beta status and — better yet — is now available for free, both for commercial and non-commercial use.

Visual Assert, based on the cfix 1.6 unit testing framework, allows you to easily write, manage, run, and debug your C/C++ unit tests -– without ever leaving the Visual Studio® IDE. No fiddling with command line tools, no complex configuration, and no boilerplate code required.

Sounds good? Then go straight to the Visual Assert homepage and download the installer!

cfix 1.6 released, simplifies authoring of multi-threaded tests

A new release of cfix, the unit testing framework for C and C++, is now available for download. Besides some minor enhancements like extending the maximum permitted fixture name, cfix 1.6 introduces a major new feature, Anonymous Thread Auto-Registration.

Since its very first release, cfix has supported multi-threaded test cases, i.e. test cases that spawn child threads, each of which potentially making use of the various assertion statements like CFIX_ASSERT. To make this work and ensure that failing assertions are handled properly, however, usage of CfixCreateThread (rather than the native Win32 CreateThread) was mandatory when spawning such threads.

Although using CfixCreateThread (or CfixCreateSystemThread in case of kernel mode code) remains the preferred way to create child threads, there are situations where usage of this API is not possible — for example, when the child threads are created by libraries such as boost.

To support such scenarios, cfix now allows you to annotate a fixture to enable Anonymous Thread Auto-Registration, which means that newly spawned threads are automatically registered with cfix — no usage of CfixCreateThread required. Thanks to this feature, writing multi-threaded tests becomes straightforward — and integrating with libraries such as boost does not pose a problem any more.

For more details about this feature, please refer to the respective section in the cfix documentation.

As always, updated binaries and source code are available on Sourceforge.

How to customize test run execution to make your cfix test runs more effective

One of the features introduced back in cfix 1.2 was the ability to customize test execution with the command line parameters -fsr and -fsf. Using these switches can make your test runs more effective and can help simplify debugging — so it is worth spending a minute on this topic.

Assume our test run comprises two fixtures, Fixture A and Fixture B. As fixtures are always run in alphabetic order, and tests run in the order they are defined, the first test to be executed is Test 1 of Fixture A, followed by Test 2 of Fixture A, and so on. Assuming all tests of Fixture A succeed, execution then proceeds with the first test of Fixture B. The following figure illustrates this:

Successful execution of a unit testing suite

Things get interesting when one of the tests fails: Let us assume Test 2 of Fixture A leads to a failed assertion. The default behavior of cfix, which equals the behavior of JUnit and NUnit, is to report the failure and proceed with Test 3 of the same fixture:

Execution resumes after a failed unit test

In many cases, this is the appropriate thing to do — letting the test run to completion and figure out the reasons for the failure afterwards. But in certain scenarios, resuming with Test 3 might not be the smartest thing to do — rather, as soon as a test fails, execution should proceed with the next fixture. This is what -fsf (short-circuit fixture”) does:

Short-circuiting the fixture

Once a test case has failed, all remaining tests of the same fixture are skipped.

When debugging, even resuming at the next fixture is often not desired. Rather, as soon as one test fails, you may immediately want to take a closer a look at the failure, so resuming the run is mute. -fsr (short-circuit run”) does right that: It aborts the run immediately.

Short-circuiting the run

By the way — in Visual Assert, you can quickly access these options in the Options menu in the Test Explorer window:

Visual Assert Test Explorer


About me

Johannes Passing, M.Sc., living in Berlin, Germany.

Besides his consulting work, Johannes mainly focusses on Win32, COM, and NT kernel mode development, along with Java and .Net. He also is the author of cfix, a C/C++ unit testing framework for Win32 and NT kernel mode, Visual Assert, a Visual Studio Unit Testing-AddIn, and NTrace, a dynamic function boundary tracing toolkit for Windows NT/x86 kernel/user mode code.

Contact Johannes: jpassing (at) acm org

Johannes' GPG fingerprint is BBB1 1769 B82D CD07 D90A 57E8 9FE1 D441 F7A0 1BB1.

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