Testing With yotta

Good tests are a really important part of writing software that can be re-used by other people. Even if you also use the yotta modules that you publish within your own application: it’s likely that other people will exercise your code in ways you don’t.

A good set of tests will exercise everything that your module does, and take care to cover edge cases which may occur rarely, but cause failures which are hard to track down and fix.

yotta supports testing through the test directory in every module, and the yotta test command.

The test Directory

Each separate source file in the top level of the test directory will be compiled into a separate executable (so each test should either have a main() function or use a framework that provides a main(). In mbed OS, main is defined by the system, and each test application should define an app_start entry point, unless a test framework is being used with other requirements.

For more complex tests, composed of a number of files, all of the source files under each subdirectory within the test directory will be compiled into a single executable.

A test directory that looks like this:

 |  |_foo.c
 |  |_bar.c
 |  \_complex
 |     |_support.c
 |     |_other
 |     |  \_other.c
 |     \_main.c

Will result in the following test executables:

  • test/mymodule-test-foo, compiled from foo.c
  • test/mymodule-test-bar, compiled from bar.c
  • test/mymodule-test-complex, compiled from support.c, main.c and other.c.


The testDependencies section in each module’s module.json file can be used for dependencies like testing frameworks which are only required for tests. Note that all the listed testDependencies will be linked against all of the tests.

testDependencies should be used to depend on test frameworks, or modules that are only required when running tests. For example, if your module is commonly used with other modules, you may write tests to ensure that your module works correctly when used with them. In this case these other modules should only be listed as test dependencies so they are not required if someone does not wish to run your tests.

yotta test

To run the tests for your module, display their output, and whether they passed/failed, run:

yotta test

Or to run the tests for all modules:

yotta test all

You can also name specific tests to run in place of all. Unless you are using a specific test reporter, yotta takes the exit status of your test program to indicate success/failure (following the Unix convention that a status of 0 means success).

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Cross-Compiling Target Support

yotta build targets can be used to build modules to run on devices other than the computer where yotta is running (cross-compilation). In this case, yotta does not run the tests directly, but needs the target description to provide a scripts.test command. This command is provided with the path to the binary for the program being debugged by expanding any occurences of $program in the arguments to the script into the path to the binary.

The test script is expected to load the binary onto the target device, execute it, print its output to stdout, and exit with 0 if the test was successful, or a non-zero status if it was not.

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Test Reporter Scripts

Relying on the exit status of a test program to determine pass/fail can be limiting. Depending on the test framework being used it may be necessary to parse the output of the test and look for specific values to check for a pass/fail, or it may be necessary to use an external program to verify the correct behaviour of a test, instead of relying on self-test.

yotta allows this through the testReporter script that each module can define.

When the tests for each module are run, their output is passed to the testReporter script for verification.

Advanced Testing

As well as putting source files in the test directory, you can also add tests anywhere in custom CMakeLists.txt files. (yotta will not automatically generate a CMakeLists.txt file describing what should be built for any directory that already has one).

To do this, you should use the cmake add_test command in your CMakeLists.txt, and add an additional dependency on the all_tests target:

add_dependencies(all_tests yourmodulename-test-yourtestname)