Test Scripts In The New Infra

Testing in the new infra relies on the testing infrastructure provided by Autotools (Automake, Autoconf, etc., see 1). It is actually pretty simple:

  1. write a shell script, perl script, or other executable, and return correct exit values
  2. add that executable to the TESTS variable in the Makefile.am file in the dir where the executable is located
  3. run the command make check - this will also rebuild any targets not up-to-date

Existing shell scripts for testing

Presently (January 2014) there are quite a few shell scripts for testing the morphology and the lexicon, and nothing else. The following shell scripts are found for all languages:

  • generate-noun-lemmas.sh          - will check that the lemma can generate itself
  • run-gt-desc-yaml-testcases.sh    - will run all yaml tests written for the descriptive analyser/generator
  • run-gt-norm-anayaml-testcases.sh - will run yaml test for analysis only against the normative analyser
  • run-gt-norm-genyaml-testcases.sh - will run yaml test for generation only against the normative generator
  • run-gt-norm-yaml-testcases.sh    - will run all yaml tests written for the normative analyser/generator
  • run-lexc-testcases.sh            - will run tests written as part of the lexc source files

Many languages have an extensive set of so called YAML tests, test data written in the yaml format. Some also have tests written directly in the lexc source code. But we need more tests. Please use the receipt here to add more tests for all sorts of testing needs.

What to add to Makefile.am

All shell scripts or other test scripts that should be run should be listed in the variable TESTS. As we only want to test things that we actually build, we only assign test scripts to this variable inside a conditional for building the corresponding target. An example from test/tools/spellcheckers/Makefile.am:


# Only test spellers if we build spellers:

That is, the TESTS variable is empty by default (i.e. no tests will be run), but if we have configured the language in question to build spellers, the test script test-zhfst-file.sh will be run.

During development it is common that some tests fail. In such cases the test script should also be assigned to the variable XFAIL_TESTS (in addition to the variable TESTS). This assignment does not have to be conditional, since only test scripts also listed in the variable TESTS will be considered.

When the development has progressed to the point where the test actually PASSes, that will cause the make check command to break, with an uneXpected PASS - XPASS. This makes it obvious that a qualitative change has happened. From now on the test should always PASS (otherwise it is a regression), and we remove the test script from the variable XFAIL_TESTS. After this the test will PASS as expected the next time we run make check.

If you have tests that test that something does fail (e.g. when given bad input), you should design the test script such that the exit value is zero when the actual test fails, and non-zero otherwise. That is, reverse the logic within the test script, such that the logic within the Makefile.am files remains the same.

Naming conventions for yaml tests

Some parts of the naming conventions are described on this page. There are a couple of additional things to note:

  • the name of the shell script is completely free form, but should for clarity reflect the fst being tested;
  • the fst specifier in the yaml file name (see the docu linked to above) must be specified in the shell script.
  • the location of the yaml testing shell script is crucial - it must be located in a directory within test/ parallell to the directory where the fst being tested is located. That is, if the fst file(s) you want to test is located in $GTLANG/tools/mt/apertium/, then the shell script for running the yaml tests must be located in $GTLANG/test/tools/mt/apertium/. The yaml files themselves can be in another directory, in which case that directory must be specified in the shell script. The default is that the yaml files are in the same dir as the shell script for running the yaml tests.

Adding yaml tests for a new fst class

To add a new shell script to test a new type of fst('s), it is easiest to just copy one of the existing shell scripts, and change the fst specifier at the beginning of the shell script. Also consider whether you want to put the yaml files in a subdirectory, which must be specified at the same location.

Details on how to write new testing shell scripts

As mentioned above, any shell script or other script (perl, python) - even a compiled binary - can serve as a test script. The only requirement is that the correct exit value is produced depending on the outcome of the test. The possible exit values are:

  • 0 - the test succeeded
  • 77 - the test was skipped for some reason (test data not found, some other precondition not met)
  • 99 - a hard failure (such as segmentation fault, etc - not very useful to us)
  • any other value - the test failed

If you need to reference data files, you have access to the variable $srcdir (both from Automake and from the environment). This variable points to the source directory of the test script, i.e. the dir in which the Makefile.am file is located. Every other location must be relative to this dir! If done properly, the tests will then work also when the source code is built and tested out-of-source (so-called VPATH building).

Test scripts can be as simple or complicated as you want, as long as it fullfills the basic requirements:

  • correct exit value (see above)
  • all path and file references are relative to the local dir, specified using $srcdir

Here is an example of a very simpe test script (a shell script):

for i in "" .sfst .ofst .foma; do
    if ((test -z "$i") || $TOOLDIR/hfst-format --list-formats | grep $i > /dev/null); then
        if test -f cat2dog$i ; then
            if ! $TOOLDIR/hfst-invert cat2dog$i > test ; then
                exit 1
            if ! $TOOLDIR/hfst-compare -s test dog2cat$i  ; then
                exit 1
            rm test;


The script (taken from the Hfst3 distro) loops over the fst suffixes, and for each suffix, tests whether such an fst exists, then tries to invert it and then compare it. If any of the tools hfst-invert or hfst-compare fails, the shell script exits with a value of 1, ie the whole shell script - and thus the test - fails.

This script can easily be adapted and extended for our purposes, to e.g. test that the output of an analysis matches a certain expected output (diff should exit with 0), or that certain input words all give at least one suggestion, etc.