Setting up testsuite in user projects

This page provides details about how to set up a testsuite in a user project similar to the one that is used to test deal.II itself.

  1. Overview
  2. Examples
    1. Simple configuration
    2. Advanced configuration

Overview

deal.II features an extensive testsuite to ensure consistent, well-defined behavior of its building blocks during development and for releases. But, the larger a user program/project becomes, the more important it is to also check user code for continued correctness during development. This is mainly done via unit and regression testing.

deal.II provides a mechanism to conveniently set up unit and regression tests in a user project (very much like they are handled in the library itself). At its heart a test is a small executable that is invoked and an output file for comparison. The executable that should be run can be defined in two different ways: Either as a source file in conjunction with a comparison file:

my_test_1.cc
my_test_1.output
In this case my_test_1.cc contains a full executable (with a main function) that produces some output. The screen output is then compared against my_test_1.output. Alternatively, a parameter file together with a comparison file can be provided:
my_test_2.prm
my_test_2.output
In this case an already built executable (that is defined by a CMake variable) is invoked with the path of my_test_2.prm as first argument. Again, its screen output is compared against my_test_2.output

Examples

This section presents two different examples of how to use the testsuite facilities. Possible directory layouts together with the necessary CMake configuration are discussed.

Simple configuration

For the purpose of an example, let us pretend that step-1 could read input files (defined on the command line) and do some computation based on their contents. Then, we can set up tests for expected output for given a given configuration file. This can be done by creating a subdirectory tests and adding a test of the second type (i.e., parameter file and comparison file). In detail the directory and file layout is as follows:

CMakeLists.txt
step-1.cc
tests/CMakeLists
tests/my_test.output
tests/my_test.prm
In order to enable testing the top-level CMakeLists.txt file has to be augmented by a call to ENABLE_TESTING() and a subsequent descent into the tests/ subdirectory via ADD_SUBDIRECTORY(tests). For convenience, here is the full top-level CMakeLists.txt file:
SET(TARGET step-1)
SET(TARGET_SRC step-1.cc)

CMAKE_MINIMUM_REQUIRED(VERSION 2.8.12)
FIND_PACKAGE(deal.II 9.0.0 REQUIRED
  HINTS ${deal.II_DIR} ${DEAL_II_DIR} ../ ../../ $ENV{DEAL_II_DIR}
  )

DEAL_II_INITIALIZE_CACHED_VARIABLES()
PROJECT(${TARGET})
DEAL_II_INVOKE_AUTOPILOT()

# Enable testing and descent into tests/ subdirectory:
ENABLE_TESTING()
ADD_SUBDIRECTORY(tests)
The corresponding file tests/CMakeLists.txt contains only two statements:
SET(TEST_TARGET ${TARGET})
DEAL_II_PICKUP_TESTS()
The first statement sets the variable TEST_TARGET to the executable that should be invoked (in our case the contents of the variable TARGET). The second statement is a call to a deal.II macro that will go through the directory contents and define all test targets.

Due to the fact that step-1 produces only two lines of output and parses no parameters, we can set up a somewhat silly test by just providing the comparison file and an empty parameter file:

$ touch tests/my_test.prm
$ echo "Grid written to grid-1.eps" >  tests/my_test.output
$ echo "Grid written to grid-2.eps" >> tests/my_test.output
After that, reconfigure and call the test driver ctest:
$ cmake .
[...]
$ ctest
Test project .../examples/step-1
    Start 1: tests/my_test.debug
1/1 Test #1: tests/my_test.debug ..............   Passed    1.72 sec

100% tests passed, 0 tests failed out of 1

Total Test time (real) =   1.72 sec

Remark: The test driver will compare the combined output stream of stdout and stderr against the comparison file. If the test creates a file output and writes to it, the comparison file is compared against this output file instead. In this case stdout and stderr are discarded.

Advanced configuration

Above setup is too inflexible for larger projects that might consist of individual libraries and an independent main program. Therefore, as a second example a project is presented that consists of a support library "support" and an executable "step". The task shall be to provide unit tests for the library "support" and simple configuration type tests for "step". In detail:

CMakeLists.txt

src/CMakeLists.txt
src/step.cc
src/support.cc

tests/step/CMakeLists
tests/step/my_test_1.prm
tests/step/my_test_1.output

tests/support/CMakeLists
tests/support/my_test_2.cc
tests/support/my_test_2.output

Again, we want to use the "autopilot" configuration for user projects (see the cmake documentation for details). The top-level CMakeLists.txt is now solely responsible for finding deal.II, enable testing, and descending into subdirectories:

# top-level CMakelists.txt

CMAKE_MINIMUM_REQUIRED(VERSION 2.8.12)
FIND_PACKAGE(deal.II 9.0.0 REQUIRED
  HINTS ${deal.II_DIR} ${DEAL_II_DIR} ../ ../../ $ENV{DEAL_II_DIR}
  )

DEAL_II_INITIALIZE_CACHED_VARIABLES()
PROJECT(step)
ENABLE_TESTING()

ADD_SUBDIRECTORY(src)
ADD_SUBDIRECTORY(tests/step)
ADD_SUBDIRECTORY(tests/support)
The library and executable are defined in src/CMakeLists.txt:
# src/CMakeLists.txt

# set up shared library by hand:
ADD_LIBRARY(support SHARED support.cc)
DEAL_II_SETUP_TARGET(support)

# set up executable with autopilot macro:
SET(TARGET "step")
SET(TARGET_SRC step.cc)
DEAL_II_INVOKE_AUTOPILOT()
TARGET_LINK_LIBRARIES(${TARGET} support)
Similarly to the first example, setting up tests for the executable "step" is just a matter of defining a variable and a call to a macro:
# tests/step/CMakeLists.txt

SET(TEST_TARGET step)
DEAL_II_PICKUP_TESTS()
In contrast, the tests for the support library consist of a source file that has a main function. The object file generated from this source file will be linked against deal.II and every library listed in TEST_LIBRARIES:
# tests/support/CMakeLists.txt

SET(TEST_LIBRARIES support)
DEAL_II_PICKUP_TESTS()
Again, reconfigure and run ctest:
$ cmake .
$ ctest
Test project .../examples/step
    Start 1: step/my_test_1.debug
1/2 Test #1: step/my_test_1.debug .............   Passed    0.21 sec
    Start 2: support/my_test_2.debug
2/2 Test #2: support/my_test_2.debug ..........   Passed    0.22 sec

100% tests passed, 0 tests failed out of 2

Total Test time (real) =   0.43 sec

Remark: For further information consult the testsuite documentation for the library. With the sole exception of the testsuite setup (that happens unconditionally in user testsuites), this documentation also applies for user testsuites.

Remark: The full configuration options for DEAL_II_PICKUP_TESTS() are:

TEST_LIBRARIES
TEST_LIBRARIES_DEBUG
  - additionally used for tests with debug configuration
TEST_LIBRARIES_RELEASE
  - additionally used for tests with release configuration

TEST_TARGET or
TEST_TARGET_DEBUG and TEST_TARGET_RELEASE
  - used instead of TEST_TARGET for debug/release configuration

NUMDIFF_EXECUTABLE, DIFF_EXECUTABLE
  - pointing to valid diff executables. If NUMDIFF_EXECUTABLE is not
    "numdiff" it will be ignored and DIFF_EXECUTABLE is used instead

TEST_TIME_LIMIT
  - specifying the maximal wall clock time in seconds a test is allowed
    to run

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