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Assert-Based Unit Test Tools (UT-Assert)

The ut-assert unit test tools provide a unit test framework and a collection of utilities that are designed to facilitate unit testing.


Assert-Based Unit Test Tools (UT-Assert) Goals

These tools implement an assertion-based testing philosophy that requires the developer to explicitly write verification statements that assert whether a condition is true or false. This approach is much different than the Flight Software Branch's historical approach to unit testing that creates a log file that requires developer analysis in order to determine whether a test passed or failed. In order to use the tools a developer populates the framework with their unit tests and links with the ut-asssert library to create an executable.

Project Goals

The establishment of the FSW Reuse Library (FSRL) has made it obvious that the development and maintenance of unit tests is critical to the success of the FSRL. Unit tests are an essential part of the FSRL and they must be developed and maintained in a cost effective manner. The unit test framework relieves developers from repeatedly implementing common unit testing functions and they enforce a common look-and-feel that helps test maintenance. These tools implement an assertion-based testing philosophy that requires the developer to explicitly write verification statements that assert whether a condition is true or false. This approach is much different than the Flight Software Branch's historical approach to unit testing that creates a log file that requires a developer analysis in order to determine whether a test passed or failed.

Functional Goals

This approach allows developers to write self-verifying unit tests and the tools provide a framework that allow unit tests to be bundled into a single executional units. This aggregation allows comprehensive automated unit testing so as FSRL components are added and/or modfiied automated regression unit testing can be performed.

Evolvability Goals

Since the core Flight Executive (cFE) is open source another motivation is to provide a test facility that can be used by the open source community.

The use of a third party (including open source) unit test tool such as CUnit was considered. However, this option was rejected because it added unnecessary complexity to the FSRL unit testing. A tool such as cunit is written to accommodate many different users which increases its complexity and obscures the basic functionality required by the FSRL unit tests. For example, cunit supports the generation of XML reports which is not seen as a valuable feature for the FSRL. In addition, little effort is required to implement and maintain the unit test framework. Therefore by developing our own unit test framework we have complete control over the framework’s features, complexity, and growth path. We also do not rely on an outside party to implement enhancements and/or bug fixes.

Usability Goals

There are multiple aspects to the usability of these tools:

  1. Simplify and 'standardize' the process of creating unit test for CFS software components.
  2. Allow developers to create self-documented unit test that ease the maintenance of unit tests. Unit test maintenance has proven to be a difficult task.
  3. Allow unit tests to be aggregated into unit test suites so CFS unit test suites can be created to allow automated unit level regression testing.


Software Packages

This software is released under the terms and conditions of the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) Version 1.1 or later.
Assert-Based Unit Test Tools (UT-Assert) NOSA

Assert-Based Unit Test Tools (UT-Assert) Software Package



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  • Page Last Updated: October 31, 2018
  • Page Editor: Adil Anis
  • NASA Official: Enidia Santiago-Arce