#integration-tests #binary #integration #testing-cargo #cargo-build #cargo-toml


Manage and build extra binaries for integration tests as regular Rust crates

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#61 in Testing

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MIT license

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Maintenance License Coverage Rust


Manage and build extra binaries for integration tests as regular Rust crates.

If you have integration tests for things that involve subprocess management, inter-process communication, or platform tools, you might need to write some extra "supporting" binaries of your own to help with these tests. For example, if you want to test that your code does the right thing with the exit status for a managed subprocess, you might want a supporting binary that can be made to exit with a certain status code. If you're testing an IPC exchange, you might want to test against a binary "mock" that sends some scripted replies.

And if you're already using Cargo to build and test, it would be nice to be able to write those extra binaries in Rust, near to the crate you're testing, as Cargo projects themselves. Then at least you'll know that your test environments will already have the right toolchain installed.

To some extent this is already possible without using this crate at all! If you want an extra binary, you could put it under your src/bin or examples directory and use it that way. But there are limitations to what's currently possible under Cargo alone:

  • Crate binaries eg. under src/bin, or listed under [[bin]] in Cargo.toml, can be found via the environment variable CARGO_BIN_EXE_<name> when running tests. But they have to share dependencies with your entire crate! So whatever your supporting binaries depend on, your entire crate has to depend on as well. This is discussed in Cargo issue #1982

  • Example binaries (under examples/ or [[example]]) use [dev-dependencies] instead. But they have no equivalent environment variable, and might not be built by the time your test runs.

  • More philosophically: such binaries are not examples, nor are they real applications. They might not use any aspect of your crate whatsoever. They might deliberately malfunction. It might be confusing to end users to find these alongside your other examples. It might just not be the kind of organisation you want for your tests.

  • Organising supporting binaries as workspace crates requires publishing every one of those crates to crates.io (or whatever registry you're using), even if they have no use whatsoever outside of your crate's integration tests.

This crate provides a way to work around those constraints. It has a simple interface for invoking Cargo to build extra binaries organised in a separate directory under your crate.

The first thing to note is that these extra binaries aren't binaries listed in your actual project's manifest. So start by picking a directory name and put them in there eg. this project uses testbins. This is not going to be a workspace. Under this directory you will have these extra binaries in their own Cargo packages.

The structure should look something like this:

├── Cargo.toml        (your crate's manifest)
├── src
│  └── lib.rs         (your crate's lib.rs)
├── tests
│  └── tests.rs       (your crate's tests, which want to use the supporting
│                      binaries below)
└── testbins          (all the extra binary projects are under this
   │                   directory)
   ├── test-something (first extra binary)
   │  ├── Cargo.toml  (extra binary manifest, name = "test-something")
   │  └── src
   │     └── main.rs  (extra binary source)
   ├── test-whatever  (another extra binary, name = "test-whatever")
   │  ├── Cargo.toml
   │  └── src
   │     └── main.rs


It can be useful to put an empty [workspace] section in the Cargo.toml for these test binaries, so that Cargo knows not to look in parent directories.

With this setup, you can now call build_test_binary("test-something", "testbins"). See how:

  • "test-something" is the binary name you'd pass to Cargo in the child project eg. if you changed directory to the nested project, you'd run cargo build --bin test-something; it also has to be the name of the subdirectory this project is in
  • "testbins" is the directory relative to your real project's manifest containing this test binary project (and maybe others); think of it like you'd think of the examples or tests directory

If you need to set different profiles or features, or have more control over the directory structure, there is also a builder API. Also see build_test_binary_once!() for a macro that lazily builds the binary and caches the path.

Here's an example of how you might use this crate's API in a test, with a binary named does-build:

let test_bin_path = build_test_binary("does-build", "testbins")
    .expect("error building test binary");

let mut test_bin_subproc = std::process::Command::new(test_bin_path)
    .expect("error running test binary");

// Test behaviour of your program against the mock binary eg. send it
// something on stdin and assert what it prints on stdout, do some IPC,
// check for side effects.

    .expect("error waiting for test binary")

The result returned by these functions contains the path of the built binary as a std::ffi::OsString, which can be passed to std::process::Command or other crates that deal with subprocesses. The path is not resolved to an absolute path by this crate, although it might be one anyway. Since it is the path provided by Cargo after being invoked in the current process' working directory, it will be valid as long as you do not change the working directory between obtaining it and using it.

Minimum supported Rust version: 1.57. Licensed under the MIT license (see LICENSE file in this directory).

This document is kept up-to-date with cargo-rdme.


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