1. David Corne
  2. UnitCpp




UnitC++ is a modern, light weight, single-header c++ library for making unit testing easy. The intention of UnitC++ is to make it really easy to test c++ code in a portable way.

How to use UnitC++

How to get UnitC++

For Users

UnitC++ has a project page on SourceForge which has versioned downloads.

For Developers

UnitC++ is stored in a mercurial repository centrally at bitbucket. The best way to get it is to clone it onto local disk. Like so.

cd ~
hg clone https://davidcorne@bitbucket.org/davidcorne/unitcpp

You can also download/clone it from GitHub at https://github.com/davidcorne/UnitCpp.

How to include UnitC++ in your project

As a single header library this step should be easy to accomplish. The UnitCpp.h header can be copied to your project, or installed and added to the include path. Here are two examples of how that is done.

From command line

Compiling from the command line you add the argument -I $(path_to_unitc++). This works for g++/clang/cl from the command line. This can also be added to the compiler arguments in a makefile.

From Visual Studio

in Visual Studio you go to Project Properties -> C/C++ -> Additional Include Directories, and browse to $(path_to_unitc++).

How to write a unit test using UnitC++

Writing a test

The first thing to do is include <UnitCpp.h>. This is the header which will bring in everything you need.

Then you need to declare you are writing a test by writing TEST(goup_name, test_name). This works like declaring a function, so a set of tests for a class called MyString will look something like this.

#include <UnitCpp.h>

TEST(MyString, length_test)

TEST(MyString, validity_test)

Note: the pattern here is to write several tests for a class with the class as the group_name and what you are testing as the test_name in the TEST macro.

Now you are ready to write the test code. UnitC++ provided some helpful macros for writing tests. Here is a list of them.


So here is a filled out version of the above example of a test.

#include <UnitCpp.h>

TEST(MyString, length_test)
  MyString str("This is a string");
  TEST_EQUAL(str.length(), 16);
  TEST_NOT_EQUAL(str.length(), 17);
  TEST_LESS_THAN(str.length(), 20);
  TEST_MORE_THAN(str.length(), 10);
  TEST_APPROX_EQUAL(str.length(), 15, 1.1); // test the length is within 1.1 of 15

TEST(MyString, validity_test)
  MyString invalid_string;

  MyString valid_string("");

  TEST_THROWS([&](){invalid_string.length();}, MyString::InvalidStringException);


This is obviously a contrived example, there are several tests checking the same thing. i.e. that the length of "This is a string" is 16. However it is an example of how the macros are used.

Note the use of TEST_THROWS, it is for testing that a certain exception was thrown. It takes a function to call, the exception which should be thrown and the arguments to the function. Note the use of a lambda function, this is because TEST_THROWS is expecting a function and you want to call a member function.

In each TEST you can use functions from TestCase. This means for example, you can call test_equal<double>(1, some_function()) if you want the values to be compared as doubless not ints.

One thing which many people want to do with unit tests is access private members of the class they are testing. This can be done in UnitC++ by use of the UNITCPP_FRIEND_TEST macro. This is used like so;

class Container {
  UNITCPP_FRIEND_TEST(Container, internals)
  int m_member;

TEST(Container, internals)
  Container container;
  TEST_EQUAL(container.m_member, 5);

So you declare the specific test a friend of the class you are testing. The macro is called UNITCPP_FRIEND_TEST so it is declared in the same way as a friend class.

Note: If you are running many tests in a loop you may want to only print the results which are failures. This is done using the stop_printing() and restart_printing() functions. Like this:

TEST(Test, loop)
  std::vector<int> ints;
  for (int i = 0; i < 1000; ++i) {
    TEST_EQUAL(ints [i], i);
  TEST_EQUAL(ints.size(), 1000);

This will only print

Pass: "ints.size() should equal 1000." utest_README.cpp:15

Without an additional 1000 lines of

Pass: "ints [i] should equal i." utest_README.cpp:12

Running the tests with a menu

So you've written a nice set of tests and now you want to run them. This is done with the TestRegister class. This is a singleton that has registered all of the tests you've declared with the TEST macro. These are run using the following code.

int main(int argc, char** argv)
  return UnitCpp::TestRegister::test_register().run_tests_interactive(

This will produce a menu which looks something like this:

0) All tests.

1) Maths
  2) "Maths:sqrt_results"
  3) "Maths:is_square"
  4) "Maths:sqrt_precondition"

5) MyString
  6) "MyString:length_test"
  7) "MyString:validity_test"

This gives you the option of running any individual test, any group of tests or all tests.

These numbers can also be give on the command line. e.g. utest.exe 0 will always run all tests.

Running the tests without a menu

If you don't want the menu or command line options and just want an executable which runs all of the tests the you want a test harness which looks like this:

#include <UnitCpp.h>

int main()
  return UnitCpp::TestRegister::test_register().run_tests();

As long as the code with the tests in is linked into the executable TestRegister::test_register().run_tests() will run the tests.

You can also call TestRegister::test_register().run_tests("group_name") to run all the tests in a specific group.

Working examples

In the Example folder there is a working example for a further demonstration of some of the capabilities of UnitC++.

Frequently Asked Questions

UnitC++ doesn't work with my compiler!

Ok, this isn't actually a commonly asked question. But, if your compiler doesn't work with UnitC++ please let me know! I will fix this as soon as I can. See How do I report an issue or request a feature for how to let me know, thanks.

How do I request a feature or report an issue

I am always happy to take a look at an improvement or fix a bug, you just have to let me know about it. The best way to do this is file an issue on my issue tracker. This is located https://bitbucket.org/davidcorne/unitcpp/issues?status=new&status=open don't be shy, I'm not going to snap at anyone.

Do you use this?

I made UnitC++ for my personal use. This means that I use it whenever I need to test anything.

How is UnitC++ tested?

It's tested using UnitC++ of course! I run continuous integration using drone.io. I currently test it with g++, clang and cl. On drone.io I test g++ and clang and I test/develop with g++ and cl on my windows machine using cygwin. The current state of the drone.io build is Build Status.

How does it work?

Each TEST does 3 things:

  1. It defines a class derived from TestCase.
  2. It makes a global instance of this class.
  3. It lets you provide the body of the overriden function run().

The reason a global object is declared is to call the constructor. In the constructor of TestCase it registers itself so TestRegister knows which tests to run. This is how as long as the objects are linked against, TestRegister::test_register().run_tests() will run them all.

You say this is a modern library, why are there so many preprocessor macros?

This is because unfortunately macros are the best way of doing some things. Macros are used for 2 reasons in UnitC++.

  1. For judging compiler support. For the TEST_THROWS functionality we use variadic templates, this was not supported by visual studio until 2013. As pre-2013 visual studio compilers are in very wide use, we decided to include this functionality for those with compiler support, and to not break the build of those without.

  2. For generating good error messages in tests. Compare the following message; Fail: These arguments should be equal and Fail: "Maths::sqrt(4.0) should equal 2." utest_Maths.cpp:8. I know I prefer the second one, and getting the line of code, file name and line number cannot be done without macros.

Contributing to UnitC++

The GitHub site is a mirror of the mercurial repository. So you should use mercurial and bitbucket. Send me a pull request at https://davidcorne@bitbucket.org/davidcorne/unitcpp and I'll get back to you.