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ATF-C-API(3) NetBSD Library Functions Manual ATF-C-API(3)
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by Kimmo Suominen.
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atf-c-api, ATF_CHECK, ATF_CHECK_MSG, ATF_CHECK_EQ, ATF_CHECK_EQ_MSG,
ATF_CHECK_MATCH, ATF_CHECK_MATCH_MSG, ATF_CHECK_STREQ,
ATF_CHECK_STREQ_MSG, ATF_CHECK_ERRNO, ATF_REQUIRE, ATF_REQUIRE_MSG,
ATF_REQUIRE_EQ, ATF_REQUIRE_EQ_MSG, ATF_REQUIRE_MATCH,
ATF_REQUIRE_MATCH_MSG, ATF_REQUIRE_STREQ, ATF_REQUIRE_STREQ_MSG,
ATF_REQUIRE_ERRNO, ATF_TC, ATF_TC_BODY, ATF_TC_BODY_NAME, ATF_TC_CLEANUP,
ATF_TC_CLEANUP_NAME, ATF_TC_HEAD, ATF_TC_HEAD_NAME, ATF_TC_NAME,
ATF_TC_WITH_CLEANUP, ATF_TC_WITHOUT_HEAD, ATF_TP_ADD_TC, ATF_TP_ADD_TCS,
atf_no_error, atf_tc_expect_death, atf_tc_expect_exit,
atf_tc_expect_fail, atf_tc_expect_pass, atf_tc_expect_signal,
atf_tc_expect_timeout, atf_tc_fail, atf_tc_fail_nonfatal, atf_tc_pass,
atf_tc_skip, atf_utils_cat_file, atf_utils_compare_file,
atf_utils_copy_file, atf_utils_create_file, atf_utils_file_exists,
atf_utils_fork, atf_utils_free_charpp, atf_utils_grep_file,
atf_utils_grep_string, atf_utils_readline, atf_utils_redirect,
atf_utils_wait -- C API to write ATF-based test programs
ATF_CHECK_MSG(expression, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_CHECK_EQ_MSG(expression_1, expression_2, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_CHECK_MATCH_MSG(regexp, string, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_CHECK_STREQ_MSG(string_1, string_2, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_REQUIRE_MSG(expression, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_REQUIRE_EQ_MSG(expression_1, expression_2, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_REQUIRE_MATCH_MSG(regexp, string, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
ATF_REQUIRE_STREQ_MSG(string_1, string_2, fail_msg_fmt, ...);
atf_tc_get_config_var_wd(tc, variable_name, default_value);
atf_tc_get_config_var_as_bool_wd(tc, variable_name, default_value);
atf_tc_get_config_var_as_long_wd(tc, variable_name, default_value);
atf_tc_expect_exit(exitcode, reason, ...);
atf_tc_expect_signal(signo, reason, ...);
atf_utils_cat_file(const char *file, const char *prefix);
atf_utils_compare_file(const char *file, const char *contents);
atf_utils_copy_file(const char *source, const char *destination);
atf_utils_create_file(const char *file, const char *contents, ...);
atf_utils_file_exists(const char *file);
atf_utils_grep_file(const char *regexp, const char *file, ...);
atf_utils_grep_string(const char *regexp, const char *str, ...);
atf_utils_redirect(const int fd, const char *file);
atf_utils_wait(const pid_t pid, const int expected_exit_status,
const char *expected_stdout, const char *expected_stderr);
ATF provides a C programming interface to implement test programs. C-
based test programs follow this template:
... C-specific includes go here ...
... first test case's header ...
... first test case's body ...
... second test case's header ...
... second test case's body ...
... second test case's cleanup ...
... third test case's body ...
... additional test cases ...
... add additional test cases ...
Definition of test cases
Test cases have an identifier and are composed of three different parts:
the header, the body and an optional cleanup routine, all of which are
described in atf-test-case(4). To define test cases, one can use the
ATF_TC(), ATF_TC_WITH_CLEANUP() or the ATF_TC_WITHOUT_HEAD() macros,
which take a single parameter specifiying the test case's name.
ATF_TC(), requires to define a head and a body for the test case,
ATF_TC_WITH_CLEANUP() requires to define a head, a body and a cleanup for
the test case and ATF_TC_WITHOUT_HEAD() requires only a body for the test
case. It is important to note that these do not set the test case up for
execution when the program is run. In order to do so, a later registra-
tion is needed with the ATF_TP_ADD_TC() macro detailed in Program
Later on, one must define the three parts of the test by means of three
functions. Their headers are given by the ATF_TC_HEAD(), ATF_TC_BODY(),
and ATF_TC_CLEANUP() macros, all of which take the test case name pro-
vided to the ATF_TC(), ATF_TC_WITH_CLEANUP(), or ATF_TC_WITHOUT_HEAD()
macros and the name of the variable that will hold a pointer to the test
case data. Following each of these, a block of code is expected, sur-
rounded by the opening and closing brackets.
The library provides a way to easily define the test program's main()
function. You should never define one on your own, but rely on the
library to do it for you. This is done by using the ATF_TP_ADD_TCS()
macro, which is passed the name of the object that will hold the test
cases; i.e. the test program instance. This name can be whatever you
want as long as it is a valid variable identifier.
After the macro, you are supposed to provide the body of a function,
which should only use the ATF_TP_ADD_TC() macro to register the test
cases the test program will execute and return a success error code. The
first parameter of this macro matches the name you provided in the former
call. The success status can be returned using the atf_no_error() func-
The test case's header can define the meta-data by using the
atf_tc_set_md_var() method, which takes three parameters: the first one
points to the test case data, the second one specifies the meta-data
variable to be set and the third one specifies its value. Both of them
The test case has read-only access to the current configuration variables
by means of the bool atf_tc_has_config_var(), const char *
atf_tc_get_config_var(), const char * atf_tc_get_config_var_wd(), bool
atf_tc_get_config_var_as_bool(), bool atf_tc_get_config_var_as_bool_wd(),
long atf_tc_get_config_var_as_long(), and the long
atf_tc_get_config_var_as_long_wd() functions, which can be called in any
of the three parts of a test case.
The `_wd' variants take a default value for the variable which is
returned if the variable is not defined. The other functions without the
`_wd' suffix require the variable to be defined.
Access to the source directory
It is possible to get the path to the test case's source directory from
any of its three components by querying the `srcdir' configuration vari-
Aside from the require.progs meta-data variable available in the header
only, one can also check for additional programs in the test case's body
by using the atf_tc_require_prog() function, which takes the base name or
full path of a single binary. Relative paths are forbidden. If it is
not found, the test case will be automatically skipped.
Test case finalization
The test case finalizes either when the body reaches its end, at which
point the test is assumed to have passed, unless any non-fatal errors
were raised using atf_tc_fail_nonfatal(), or at any explicit call to
atf_tc_pass(), atf_tc_fail() or atf_tc_skip(). These three functions
terminate the execution of the test case immediately. The cleanup rou-
tine will be processed afterwards in a completely automated way, regard-
less of the test case's termination reason.
atf_tc_pass() does not take any parameters. atf_tc_fail(),
atf_tc_fail_nonfatal() and atf_tc_skip() take a format string and a vari-
able list of parameters, which describe, in a user-friendly manner, why
the test case failed or was skipped, respectively. It is very important
to provide a clear error message in both cases so that the user can
quickly know why the test did not pass.
Everything explained in the previous section changes when the test case
expectations are redefined by the programmer.
Each test case has an internal state called `expect' that describes what
the test case expectations are at any point in time. The value of this
property can change during execution by any of:
Expects the test case to exit prematurely regardless of the
nature of the exit.
atf_tc_expect_exit(exitcode, reason, ...)
Expects the test case to exit cleanly. If exitcode is not `-1',
atf-run(1) will validate that the exit code of the test case
matches the one provided in this call. Otherwise, the exact
value will be ignored.
Any failure (be it fatal or non-fatal) raised in this mode is
recorded. However, such failures do not report the test case as
failed; instead, the test case finalizes cleanly and is reported
as `expected failure'; this report includes the provided reason
as part of it. If no error is raised while running in this mode,
then the test case is reported as `failed'.
This mode is useful to reproduce actual known bugs in tests.
Whenever the developer fixes the bug later on, the test case will
start reporting a failure, signaling the developer that the test
case must be adjusted to the new conditions. In this situation,
it is useful, for example, to set reason as the bug number for
This is the normal mode of execution. In this mode, any failure
is reported as such to the user and the test case is marked as
atf_tc_expect_signal(signo, reason, ...)
Expects the test case to terminate due to the reception of a sig-
nal. If signo is not `-1', atf-run(1) will validate that the
signal that terminated the test case matches the one provided in
this call. Otherwise, the exact value will be ignored.
Expects the test case to execute for longer than its timeout.
Helper macros for common checks
The library provides several macros that are very handy in multiple situ-
ations. These basically check some condition after executing a given
statement or processing a given expression and, if the condition is not
met, they report the test case as failed.
The `REQUIRE' variant of the macros immediately abort the test case as
soon as an error condition is detected by calling the atf_tc_fail() func-
tion. Use this variant whenever it makes no sense to continue the execu-
tion of a test case when the checked condition is not met. The `CHECK'
variant, on the other hand, reports a failure as soon as it is encoun-
tered using the atf_tc_fail_nonfatal() function, but the execution of the
test case continues as if nothing had happened. Use this variant when-
ever the checked condition is important as a result of the test case, but
there are other conditions that can be subsequently checked on the same
run without aborting.
Additionally, the `MSG' variants take an extra set of parameters to
explicitly specify the failure message. This failure message is format-
ted according to the printf(3) formatters.
ATF_CHECK(), ATF_CHECK_MSG(), ATF_REQUIRE() and ATF_REQUIRE_MSG() take an
expression and fail if the expression evaluates to false.
ATF_CHECK_EQ(), ATF_CHECK_EQ_MSG(), ATF_REQUIRE_EQ() and
ATF_REQUIRE_EQ_MSG() take two expressions and fail if the two evaluated
values are not equal.
ATF_CHECK_MATCH(), ATF_CHECK_MATCH_MSG(), ATF_REQUIRE_MATCH() and
ATF_REQUIRE_MATCH_MSG() take a regular expression and a string and fail
if the regular expression does not match the given string. Note that the
regular expression is not anchored, so it will match anywhere in the
ATF_CHECK_STREQ(), ATF_CHECK_STREQ_MSG(), ATF_REQUIRE_STREQ() and
ATF_REQUIRE_STREQ_MSG() take two strings and fail if the two are not
equal character by character.
ATF_CHECK_ERRNO() and ATF_REQUIRE_ERRNO() take, first, the error code
that the check is expecting to find in the errno variable and, second, a
boolean expression that, if evaluates to true, means that a call failed
and errno has to be checked against the first value.
The following functions are provided as part of the atf-c-api API to sim-
plify the creation of a variety of tests. In particular, these are use-
ful to write tests for command-line interfaces.
void atf_utils_cat_file(const char *file, const char *prefix)
Prints the contents of file to the standard output, prefixing every
line with the string in prefix.
bool atf_utils_compare_file(const char *file, const char *contents)
Returns true if the given file matches exactly the expected inlined
void atf_utils_copy_file(const char *source, const char *destination)
Copies the file source to destination. The permissions of the file
are preserved during the code.
void atf_utils_create_file(const char *file, const char *contents, ...)
Creates file with the text given in contents, which is a formatting
string that uses the rest of the variable arguments.
void atf_utils_file_exists(const char *file)
Checks if file exists.
Forks a process and redirects the standard output and standard
error of the child to files for later validation with
atf_utils_wait(). Fails the test case if the fork fails, so this
does not return an error.
void atf_utils_free_charpp(char **argv)
Frees a dynamically-allocated array of dynamically-allocated
bool atf_utils_grep_file(const char *regexp, const char *file, ...)
Searches for the regexp, which is a formatting string representing
the regular expression, in the file. The variable arguments are
used to construct the regular expression.
bool atf_utils_grep_string(const char *regexp, const char *str, ...)
Searches for the regexp, which is a formatting string representing
the regular expression, in the literal string str. The variable
arguments are used to construct the regular expression.
char * atf_utils_readline(int fd)
Reads a line from the file descriptor fd. The line, if any, is
returned as a dynamically-allocated buffer that must be released
with free(3). If there was nothing to read, returns `NULL'.
void atf_utils_redirect(const int fd, const char *file)
Redirects the given file descriptor fd to file. This function
exits the process in case of an error and does not properly mark
the test case as failed. As a result, it should only be used in
subprocesses of the test case; specially those spawned by
void atf_utils_wait(const pid_t pid, const int expected_exit_status,
const char *expected_stdout, const char *expected_stderr)
Waits and validates the result of a subprocess spawned with
atf_utils_wait(). The validation involves checking that the sub-
process exited cleanly and returned the code specified in
expected_exit_status and that its standard output and standard
error match the strings given in expected_stdout and
If any of the expected_stdout or expected_stderr strings are pre-
fixed with `save:', then they specify the name of the file into
which to store the stdout or stderr of the subprocess, and no com-
parison is performed.
The following shows a complete test program with a single test case that
validates the addition operator:
"Sample tests for the addition operator");
ATF_CHECK_EQ(0 + 0, 0);
ATF_CHECK_EQ(0 + 1, 1);
ATF_CHECK_EQ(1 + 0, 1);
ATF_CHECK_EQ(1 + 1, 2);
ATF_CHECK_EQ(100 + 200, 300);
"Sample tests for the snprintf");
snprintf(buf, sizeof(buf), "a %s", "string");
ATF_CHECK_STREQ_MSG("a string", buf, "%s is not working");
"Sample tests for the open function");
ATF_CHECK_ERRNO(ENOENT, open("non-existent", O_RDONLY) == -1);
"Reproduces a known bug");
atf_tc_expect_fail("See bug number foo/bar");
ATF_CHECK_EQ(3, 1 + 1);
ATF_CHECK_EQ(3, 1 + 2);
atf-test-program(1), atf-test-case(4), atf(7)
NetBSD 10.99 March 14, 2023 NetBSD 10.99