ITK/Release 4/UnitTesting

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ITK v4 Unit Testing Framework

Many of the existing ITK 3.20 tests were written for the purpose of testing methods and increasing code coverage. These tests accomplish this task exceedingly well, as code coverage for ITK 3.20 testing exceeds 70% of the entire toolkit. Some of the tests evaluate outputs to validate correctness of filter results. In ITK v4, the Google Testing framework will be added to assist developers in writing sound unit tests.

Unit and regression testing concepts

Formal unit and regression testing helps developers of ITK assure correct behavior of the toolkit. Characteristics of a good unit/regression test framework are:

  • Tests clearly test one discrete unit of functionality
  • Tests verify output(s) of code against a regression standard
  • Tests are simple to read and write by developers

The Google Test framework is a well designed and thoroughly documented unit test framework. Google Test (GTest) is a natural fit with the ctest/CDash framework. GTest creates and manages individual tests, ctest executes GTest recording the results and posts to CDash. GTest is also well integrated with CMake.

Unit testing tutorial

The new unit testing framework leverages GTest and some utility functions specific for ITK. This tutorial will demonstrate many features of the new ITK testing framework (ITKTestHarness). This example show the stages of writing an ITK test, progressing from simple concepts to more complex.


In this tutorial, we are going to write a test suite or test group for the two flavors of gaussian smoothing available in ITK: [1] and [2]. The first step in the process is to create a new file in the appropriate directory. Our TestGroup will be GaussianImageFilter, so we create the file Testing/Unit/BasicFilters/itkGaussianImageFilterTests.cxx. To let CMake know about our test we edit the CMakeLists.txt file in Testing/Unit/BasicFilters to include our new file:

 itkGaussianImageFilterTests.cxx )

First tests

Next, we will create an edit itkGaussianImageFilterTests.cxx:

#include "itkTestHarness.h"

  ASSERT_TRUE ( true );

  ASSERT_TRUE ( true );

The first line includes the new ITK test harness.

#include "itkTestHarness.h"

We define two tests:


The TEST macro is provided by Google Test. The first argument is the TestGroup or TestSuite name. The second argument is the name of the test to run. In our case, we have added two tests called GaussianImageFilter.Recursive and GaussianImageFilter.Discrete.

Looking at the body of each test we see:

ASSERT_TRUE ( true );

ASSERT_TRUE is another Google Test macro. It's function is to ensure the body of the macro evaluates to true. If the body is true, the test continues, if the body evaluates to false, the test stops and prints out an error message. If we compile and run ctest, we see that the tests pass:

Test project /Users/blezek/Source/ITK-macosx
    Start 3: GaussianImageFilter.Discrete
3/4 Test #3: GaussianImageFilter.Discrete .....   Passed    0.01 sec
    Start 4: GaussianImageFilter.Recursive
4/4 Test #4: GaussianImageFilter.Recursive ....   Passed    0.01 sec

Under the hood, ctest is running Google Tests:

3: Test command: /Users/blezek/Source/ITK-macosx/bin/itkBasicFiltersUnitTests --gtest_filter=GaussianImageFilter.Discrete /Users/blezek/Source/ITK/Testing/Data /Users/blezek/Source/ITK-macosx/Testing/Temporary
3: Test timeout computed to be: 1500
3: Note: Google Test filter = GaussianImageFilter.Discrete
3: [==========] Running 1 test from 1 test case.
3: [----------] Global test environment set-up.
3: [----------] 1 test from GaussianImageFilter
3: [ RUN      ] GaussianImageFilter.Discrete
3: [       OK ] GaussianImageFilter.Discrete (0 ms)
3: [----------] 1 test from GaussianImageFilter (1 ms total)
3: [----------] Global test environment tear-down
3: [==========] 1 test from 1 test case ran. (1 ms total)
3: [  PASSED  ] 1 test.
3/4 Test #3: GaussianImageFilter.Discrete .....   Passed    0.01 sec

The extra output is generated by Google test.

Now, let's see what happens if we fail a test. Modify the body of GaussianImageFilter.Recursive to be:

  EXPECT_TRUE ( false ) << "Continue anyway";
  ASSERT_TRUE ( false ) << "Stop running the test";
  ASSERT_TRUE ( false ) << "Never gets here";

This introduces the EXPECT_TRUE macro. EXPECT_TRUE evaluates it's body, but continues running the test in the case of a

When we run ctest we see:

4: [==========] Running 1 test from 1 test case.
4: [----------] Global test environment set-up.
4: [----------] 1 test from GaussianImageFilter
4: [ RUN      ] GaussianImageFilter.Recursive
4: /Users/blezek/Source/ITK/Testing/Unit/BasicFilters/itkGaussianImageFilterTests.cxx:25: Failure
4: Value of: false
4:   Actual: false
4: Expected: true
4: Continue anyway
4: /Users/blezek/Source/ITK/Testing/Unit/BasicFilters/itkGaussianImageFilterTests.cxx:26: Failure
4: Value of: false
4:   Actual: false
4: Expected: true
4: Stop running the test
4: [  FAILED  ] GaussianImageFilter.Recursive (0 ms)
4: [----------] 1 test from GaussianImageFilter (0 ms total)
4: [----------] Global test environment tear-down
4: [==========] 1 test from 1 test case ran. (0 ms total)
4: [  PASSED  ] 0 tests.
4: [  FAILED  ] 1 test, listed below:
4: [  FAILED  ] GaussianImageFilter.Recursive
4/4 Test #4: GaussianImageFilter.Recursive ....***Failed    0.01 sec