Documentation

Edit

Testing

There are several different approaches to testing Skylark code in Bazel. This page gathers the current best practices and frameworks by use case.

For testing rules

Skylib has a test framework called unittest.bzl for checking the analysis-time behavior of rules, such as their actions and providers. It is currently the best option for tests that need to access the inner workings of Skylark rules.

Some caveats:

  • Test assertions occur within the build, not a separate test runner process. Targets that are created by the test must be named such that they do not collide with targets from other tests or from the build. An error that occurs during the test is seen by Bazel as a build breakage rather than a test failure.

  • It requires a fair amount of boilerplate to set up the rules under test and the rules containing test assertions. This boilerplate may seem daunting at first. It helps to keep in mind which code runs during the loading phase and which code runs during the analysis phase.

  • It cannot easily test for expected failures.

The basic principle is to define a testing rule that depends on the rule-under-test. This gives the testing rule access to the rule-under-test’s providers. There is experimental support for passing along action information in the form of an additional provider.

The testing rule’s implementation function carries out assertions. If there are any failures, these are not raised immediately by calling fail() (which would trigger an analysis-time build error), but rather by storing the errors in a generated script that fails at test execution time.

See below for a minimal toy example, followed by an example that checks actions.

Minimal example

//mypkg/BUILD:

load(":myrules.bzl", "myrule")
load(":myrules_test.bzl", "myrules_test_suite")

# Production use of the rule.
myrule(
    name = "mytarget",
)

# Call a macro that defines targets that perform the tests at analysis time,
# and that can be executed with "bazel test" to return the result.
myrules_test_suite()

//mypkg/myrules.bzl:

MyInfo = provider()

def _myrule_impl(ctx):
  """Rule that just generates a file and returns a provider."""
  ctx.actions.write(ctx.outputs.out, "abc")
  return [MyInfo(val="some value", out=ctx.outputs.out)]

myrule = rule(
    implementation = _myrule_impl,
    outputs = {"out": "%{name}.out"},
)

//mypkg/myrules_test.bzl:

load("@bazel_skylib//:lib.bzl", "asserts", "unittest")
load(":myrules.bzl", "myrule", "MyInfo")
# ==== Check the provider contents ====

def _provider_contents_test_impl(ctx):
  # Analysis-time test logic; place assertions here. Always begins with begin()
  # and ends with end(). If you forget to call end(), you will get an error
  # about the test result file not having a generating action.
  env = unittest.begin(ctx)
  asserts.equals(env, "some value", ctx.attr.dep[MyInfo].val)
  # You can also use keyword arguments for readability if you prefer.
  asserts.equals(env,
    expected="some value",
    actual=ctx.attr.dep[MyInfo].val)
  unittest.end(env)

# Create the testing rule to wrap the test logic. Note that this must be bound
# to a global variable due to restrictions on how rules can be defined. Also,
# its name must end with "_test".
provider_contents_test = unittest.make(_provider_contents_test_impl,
                                       attrs={"dep": attr.label()})
# You can use a different attrs dict if you need to take in multiple rules for
# the same unit test, or if you need to test an aspect, or if you want to
# parameterize the assertions with different expected results.

# Macro to setup the test.
def test_provider_contents():
  # Rule under test.
  myrule(name = "provider_contents_subject")
  # Testing rule.
  provider_contents_test(name = "provider_contents",
                         dep = ":provider_contents_subject")


# Entry point from the BUILD file; macro for running each test case's macro and
# declaring a test suite that wraps them together.
def myrules_test_suite():
  # Call all test functions and wrap their targets in a suite.
  test_provider_contents()
  # ...

  native.test_suite(
      name = "myrules_test",
      tests = [
          ":provider_contents",
          # ...
      ],
  )

The test can be run with bazel test //mypkg:myrules_test.

Aside from the initial load() statements, there are two main parts to the file:

  • The tests themselves, each of which consists of 1) an analysis-time implementation function for the testing rule, 2) a declaration of the testing rule via unittest.make(), and 3) a loading-time function (macro) for declaring the rule-under-test (and its dependencies) and testing rule. If the assertions do not change between test cases, 1) and 2) may be shared by multiple test cases.

  • The test suite function, which calls the loading-time functions for each test, and declares a test_suite target bundling all tests together.

We recommend the following naming convention. Let foo stand for the part of the test name that describes what the test is checking (provider_contents in the above example). For example, a JUnit test method would be named testFoo. Then:

  • the loading-time function should should be named test_foo (test_provider_contents)

  • its testing rule type should be named foo_test (provider_contents_test)

  • the label of the target of this rule type should be foo (provider_contents)

  • the implementation function for the testing rule should be named _foo_test_impl (_provider_contents_test_impl)

  • the labels of the targets of the rules under test and their dependencies should be prefixed with foo_ (provider_contents_)

Note that the labels of all targets can conflict with other labels in the same BUILD package, so it’s helpful to use a unique name for the test.

Actions example

To check that the ctx.actions.write() line works correctly, the above example is modified as follows.

//mypkg/myrules.bzl:

...

myrule = rule(
    implementation = _myrule_impl,
    outputs = {"out": "%{name}.out"},
    # This enables the Actions provider for this rule.
    _skylark_testable = True,
)

//mypkg/myrules_test.bzl:

...

# ==== Check the emitted file_action ====

def _file_action_test_impl(ctx):
  env = unittest.begin(ctx)
  dep = ctx.attr.dep
  # Retrieve the Actions provider.
  actions = dep[Actions]
  # Retrieve the generating action for the output file.
  action = actions.by_file[dep.out]
  # Check the content that is to be written by the action.
  asserts.equals(env, action.content, "abc")
  unittest.end(env)

file_action_test = unittest.make(_file_action_test_impl,
                                 attrs={"dep": attr.label()})

def test_file_action():
  myrule(name = "file_action_subject")
  file_action_test(name = "file_action",
                   dep = ":file_action_subject")

...

def myrules_test_suite():
  # Call all test functions and wrap their targets in a suite.
  test_provider_contents()
  test_file_action()
  # ...

  native.test_suite(
      name = "myrules_test",
      tests = [
          ":provider_contents",
          ":file_action",
          # ...
      ]
),

The flag "_skylark_testable = True" is needed on any rule whose actions are to be tested. This triggers the creation of the Actions provider. (The leading underscore is because this API is still experimental.) The test logic for actions makes use of the following API.

Actions API

The Actions provider is retrieved like any other (non-legacy) provider:

ctx.attr.foo[Actions]

The returned object has a single field, by_file, which holds a dictionary mapping each of the rule’s output files to its generating action. (Actions that do not have output files, in particular those generated by ctx.actions.do_nothing(), cannot be retrieved.)

The interface of the actions stored in the by_file map is documented here.

Finally, there is support for testing helper functions that are not rules, but that take in a rule’s ctx in order to create actions on it. Use ctx.created_actions() to get an Actions provider that has information about all actions created on ctx up to the point that this function was called. For this to work, the testing rule itself must have "_skylark_testable=True" set. Testing rules created using unittest.make() automatically have this flag set.

For validating artifacts

There are two main ways of checking that your generated files are correct: You can write a test script in shell, Python, or another language, and create a target of the appropriate *_test rule type; or you can use a specialized rule for the kind of test you want to perform.

Using a test target

The most straightforward way to validate an artifact is to write a script and add a *_test target to your BUILD file. The specific artifacts you want to check should be data dependencies of this target. If your validation logic is reusable for multiple tests, it should be a script that takes command line arguments that are controlled by the test target’s args attribute. Here’s an example that validates that the output of myrule from above is "abc".

//mypkg/myrule_validator.sh:

if [ "$(cat $1)" = "abc" ]; then
  echo "Passed"
  exit 0
else
  echo "Failed"
  exit 1
fi

//mypkg/BUILD:

...

myrule(
    name = "mytarget",
)

...

# Needed for each target whose artifacts are to be checked.
sh_test(
    name = "validate_mytarget",
    srcs = [":myrule_validator.sh"],
    args = ["$(location :mytarget.out)"],
    data = [":mytarget.out"],
)

Using a custom rule

A more complicated alternative is to write the shell script as a template that gets instantiated by a new Skylark rule. This involves more indirection and Skylark logic, but leads to cleaner BUILD files. As a side-benefit, any argument preprocessing can be done in Skylark instead of the script, and the script is slightly more self-documenting since it uses symbolic placeholders (for substitutions) instead of numeric ones (for arguments).

//mypkg/myrule_validator.sh.template:

if [ "$(cat %TARGET%)" = "abc" ]; then
  echo "Passed"
  exit 0
else
  echo "Failed"
  exit 1
fi

//mypkg/myrule_validation.bzl:

def _myrule_validation_test_impl(ctx):
  """Rule for instantiating myrule_validator.sh.template for a given target."""
  exe = ctx.outputs.executable
  target = ctx.file.target
  ctx.actions.expand_template(output = exe,
                              template = ctx.file._script,
                              is_executable = True,
                              substitutions = {
                                "%TARGET%": target.short_path,
                              })
  # This is needed to make sure the output file of myrule is visible to the
  # resulting instantiated script.
  return [DefaultInfo(runfiles=ctx.runfiles(files=[target]))]

myrule_validation_test = rule(
  implementation = _myrule_validation_test_impl,
  attrs = {"target": attr.label(single_file=True),
           # We need an implicit dependency in order to access the template.
           # A target could potentially override this attribute to modify
           # the test logic.
           "_script": attr.label(single_file=True,
                                 default=Label("//mypkg:myrule_validator"))},
  test = True,
)

//mypkg/BUILD:

...

myrule(
    name = "mytarget",
)

...

# Needed just once, to expose the template. Could have also used export_files(),
# and made the _script attribute set allow_files=True.
filegroup(
    name = "myrule_validator",
    srcs = [":myrule_validator.sh.template"],
)

# Needed for each target whose artifacts are to be checked. Notice that we no
# longer have to specify the output file name in a data attribute, or its
# $(location) expansion in an args attribute, or the label for the script
# (unless we want to override it).
myrule_validation_test(
    name = "validate_mytarget",
    target = ":mytarget",
)

Alternatively, instead of using a template expansion action, we could have inlined the template into the .bzl file as a string and expanded it during the analysis phase using the str.format method or %-formatting.

For testing Skylark utilities

The same framework that was used to test rules can also be used to test utility functions (i.e., functions that are neither macros nor rule implementations). There is no need to pass an attrs argument to unittest.make(), and there is no special loading-time setup code to instantiate any rules-under-test. The convenience function unittest.suite() can be used to reduce boilerplate in this case.

//mypkg/BUILD:

load(":myhelpers_test.bzl", "myhelpers_test_suite")

myhelpers_test_suite()

//mypkg/myhelpers.bzl:

def myhelper():
    return "abc"

//mypkg/myhelpers_test.bzl:

load("@bazel_skylib//:lib.bzl", "asserts", "unittest")
load(":myhelpers.bzl", "myhelper")

def _myhelper_test_impl(ctx):
  env = unittest.begin(ctx)
  asserts.equals(env, "abc", myhelper())
  unittest.end(env)

myhelper_test = unittest.make(_myhelper_test_impl)

# No need for a test_myhelper() setup function.

def myhelpers_test_suite():
  # unittest.suite() takes care of instantiating the testing rules and creating
  # a test_suite.
  unittest.suite(
    "myhelpers_tests",
    myhelper_test,
    # ...
  )

For more examples, see Skylib’s own tests.

This can also be used when the utility function takes in a rule’s ctx object as a parameter. If the behavior of the utility function requires that the rule be defined in a certain way, you may have to pass in an attrs parameter to unittest.make() after all, or you may have to declare the rule manually using rule(). To test helpers that create actions, make the unit test rule set "_skylark_testable=True" (if it is not created via unittest.make()) and write assertions on the result of ctx.created_actions(), as described above.