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#296 in Testing

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cargo-difftests

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

— Unknown author.

cargo-difftests is a selective re-testing framework for rust. To put it simply, it is a tool that uses LLVM coverage data + some information about what has changed since the last test-run to find which tests are most likely to have been affected by those changes, and therefore need to be rerun.

The underlying assumption is that if a test passed in the past, and none of the code executed in the test has been changed since, then the result of the test will not change. While there are some edge cases to this, it is generally true for most crates out there.

Prerequisites

cargo install cargo-generate # if you don't have it already

Then just apply the template:

cargo generate dnbln/cargo-difftests

Usage

A simple use of the cargo difftests now is as follows (in the template repository):

% # collect profiling data
% cargo difftests collect-profiling-data
% touch src/advanced_arithmetic.rs # change mtime
% cargo difftests analyze --dir target/tmp/difftests/tests/test_add
clean
% cargo difftests analyze --dir target/tmp/difftests/tests/test_mul
dirty
% cargo difftests analyze --dir target/tmp/difftests/tests/test_div
dirty
% cargo difftests collect-profiling-data --filter test_mul --exact
% cargo difftests analyze --dir target/tmp/difftests/tests/test_mul
clean
% cargo difftests analyze --dir target/tmp/difftests/tests/test_div
dirty
% cargo difftests collect-profiling-data --filter test_div --exact
% cargo difftests analyze --dir target/tmp/difftests/tests/test_div
clean

As you can see, it is quite verbose, but there is a command to simplify things: rerun-dirty-from-index. This command takes a directory where some indexes were stored, analyzes each of them, and then reruns the tests that would be considered dirty.

A possible workflow would be:

# initial profiling data collection
cargo difftests collect-profiling-data --compile-index --index-root=difftests-index-root --root=target/tmp/difftests
# modify some files
touch src/lib.rs
# analyze and rerun tests, then recompile indexes
CARGO_DIFFTESTS_EXTRA_ARGS='--compile-index,--index-root=difftests-index-root,--root=target/tmp/difftests' cargo difftests rerun-dirty-from-indexes --index-root=difftests-index-root

This will initiall collect the profiling data for all tests, then compile some indexes into the difftests-index-root directory, and then after some changes have occured, the rerun-dirty-from-indexes command will rerun the dirty tests, and compile new indexes from the new data in the same directory.

This is the recommended workflow to work with cargo-difftests. You might want to create some aliases for those commands and/or put them in shell files to make them simpler to work with.

cargo-difftests

After all the tests have been run, the profiling data has to be interpreted, and we have to check that the files that contain the code that was ran have not modified since we last ran the test. If the code that is used in the test has been modified since the last run, then we would consider the test "dirty", and we should run it again, to make sure that it still passes after our changes.

All of that analysis happens in this crate.

To put it simply, cargo-difftests looks at the files that were "touched" by the test, as in, during the execution, at least one line of code in the given file was executed. If any of those files was modified, then it flags the test as dirty and outputs said verdict. If none of the files were modified, then re-running the test will likely not change the results, so the verdict will be that the test is clean.

So you now can run the tests, maybe change a few files, and run a command like the following:

cargo difftests analyze-all --dir target/tmp/cargo-difftests # common ancestor of all the difftest directories passed to the testclient init function

This will throw out a JSON array, containing the information about the tests, as well as if they have to be rerun ("verdict": "dirty").

Features

Algorithms (--algo flag)

There are multiple ways to tell whether a change to a file will impact the result of a test.

fs-mtime

The most basic way is to check the mtime of the files which included executed code, comparing it with the time we ran the test. This works well in most cases, and is the default.

git-diff-files

Basically the same thing, but we assume that the last full test run was at the last commit (good for CI), and we compare the trees between the last commit and the current state of the tree to check which files have changed.

Also supports comparing with a given commit instead of the last, but it should be passed as the --commit option.

Caution: Running tests with a dirty working tree may cause problems. As such, it is recommended to only use this on CI to tell developers quickly about the results of the most-likely-affected tests, but while actually working it would be wise to just use fs-mtime.

git-diff-hunks

This one expands on the git-diff-files algorithm, but here, instead of checking if the file was touched since the last commit, we check only for the specific parts of the file that were modified. This works because git actually keeps track of individual lines for us.

Also similarly to git-diff-files, this algorithm also accepts an optional --commit, with which to compare instead of the last commit.

Caution: Running tests with a dirty working tree may cause problems. As such, it is recommended to only use this on CI to tell developers quickly about the results of the most-likely-affected tests, but while actually working it would be wise to just use fs-mtime.

Dependencies

~0.7–1.6MB
~36K SLoC