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Google Test Adapter

Google Test Adapter (GTA) is a Visual Studio extension providing test discovery and execution of C++ tests written with the Google Test framework.

Screenshot of Test Explorer
Screenshot of Test Explorer


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Google Test Adapter can be installed in three ways:

  • Install through the Visual Studio Gallery at Tools/Extensions and Updates - search for Google Test Adapter. This will make sure that the extension is updated automatically
  • Download and launch the VSIX installer (which can also be downloaded from the Visual Studio Gallery)
  • Add a NuGet dependency to the Google test adapter nuget package to your Google Test projects. Note, however, that Visual Studio integration is limited this way: VS can discover and run tests, but no debugging, options or toolbar will be available; configuration is only possible through solution config files (see below).

After restarting VS, your tests will be displayed in the Test Explorer at build completion time. If no or not all tests show up, have a look at the trouble shooting section.

<a name="gta_configuration"></a>Configuration

GTA is configured following Visual Studio's approach of configuration inheritance. It provides different ways of configuration:

  • <a name="global_settings"></a>The Google Test Adapter section of Visual Studio's Tools/Options (not available if installed via NuGet). These options are referred to as global options in the following.
  • <a name="toolbar"></a>The GTA toolbar (not available if installed via NuGet). The most important runtime options (i.e., Parallel test execution, Break on failure, Catch exceptions, and Print test output) can also be set via a toolbar; this is equivalent to setting the according options via Tools/Options/Google Test Adapter.
  • <a name="solution_settings"></a>Solution settings files (not available if run via VsTest.Console.exe). They are provided by means of an XML configuration file; this allows sharing of settings via source control. The configuration file must be placed in the same folder as the solution's .sln file, and must have the same name as that file, but with extension .gta.runsettings. E.g., if the solution file's name is Foo.sln, the settings file must be named Foo.gta.runsettings.
  • Visual Studio user settings files. VS allows for the selection of test settings files via the Test/Test Settings menu.

The format of solution and user settings files is the same: a <GoogleTestAdapterSettings> node contains the solution settings and the (possibly empty) set of project settings and is itself contained in a <RunSettings> node (which in the case of user settings files might contain additional, e.g. VS specific settings). In contrast to solution settings, each set of project settings additionally has a regular expression to be evaluated at test discovery and execution time.

The final settings to be used are computed in two stages:

  1. The available global, solution file, and user file settings are merged into solution settings and a set of project settings. This is done in increasing priority, i.e., solution file settings override global settings, and user file settings override solution settings. Project settings of solution and user settings files are merged if they share the exact same regular expression.
  2. At test discovery and execution time, each test executable's full path is matched against the project settings' regular expressions; the first matching project settings are used for the particular test executable. If no project settings are found, the solution settings are used.

Overall, given a test executable mytests.exe, the following settings apply to that executable in decreasing priority:

  1. Project settings of a user settings file, the regular expression of which matches the full path of mytests.exe.
  2. Project settings of a solution settings file, the regular expression of which matches the full path of mytests.exe.
  3. Solution settings of a user settings file.
  4. Solution settings of a solution settings file.
  5. Global settings.

Note that due to the overriding hierarchy described above, you probably want to provide only a subset of the nodes in your configuration files. For instance, providing the node <DebugMode>true</DebugMode> in a shared solution settings file will make sure that all sharing developers will run GTA with debug output, no matter what the developer's individual settings at Tools/Options/Google Test Adapter are (and unless the developer has selected a test settings file via VS, which would override the solution setting).

For reference, see a settings file AllTestSettings.gta.runsettings containing all available settings, a more realistic solution settings file SampleTests.gta.runsettings as delivered with the SampleTests solution, and a user settings file NonDeterministic.runsettings as used by GTA's end-to-end tests.

Assigning traits to tests

GTA has full support for traits, which can be assigned to tests in two ways:

  • <a name="trait_macros"></a>You can make use of the custom test macros provided in GTA_Traits_1.8.0.h (or GTA_Traits_1.7.0.h if you are still on Google Test 1.7.0), which contain macros for all test types of the Google Test framework. The macros do not change behavior of the tests; they only add some information to the generated test code which encodes the traits assigned to the respective test. All GTA provided macros follow the same naming schema <Google Test macro>_TRAITS, where, obviously, <Google Test macro> is the name of the according macro in Google Test. Each test can be assigned up to 8 traits.
  • <a name="trait_regexes"></a>Combinations of regular expressions and traits can be specified under the GTA options: If a test's name matches one of these regular expressions, the according trait is assigned to that test.
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More precisely, traits are assigned to tests in three phases:

  1. Te
  2. ABC
  3. Traits are assigned to tests which match one of the regular expressions specified in the traits before option. For instance, the expression .*///Size,Medium assigns the trait (Size,Medium) to all tests.
  4. Traits added to tests via test macros are assigned to the according tests, overriding traits from the first phase. For instance, the test declaration TEST_P_TRAITS(ParameterizedTests, SimpleTraits, Size, Small) will make sure that all test instances of test ParameterizedTest.SimpleTraits will be assigned the trait (Size,Small) (and override the Size trait assigned from the first phase).
  5. Traits are assigned to tests which match one of the regular expressions specified in the traits after option, overriding traits from phases 1 and 2 as described above. For instance, the expression .*\[1.*\]///Size,Large will make sure that all parameterized tests where the parameter starts with a 1 will be assigned the trait (Size,Large) (and override the traits assigned by phases 1 and 2).

Note that traits are assigned in an additive manner within each phase, and in an overriding manner between phases. For instance, if a test is assigned the traits (Author,Foo) and (Author,Bar) in phase 1, the test will have both traits. If the test is also assigned the trait (Author,Baz) in phases 2 or 3, it will only have that trait. See test code for examples.

<a name="vstest_console"></a>Running tests from command line with VSTest.Console.exe

GTA can be used to run tests from the command line, which can be done making use of VS's VSTest.Console.exe. GTA supports all the tool's command line options, including /UseVsixExtensions and /TestAdapterPath.

Note, however, that VSTest.Console.exe will not make use of GTA solution settings (if the solution containing the tests happens to use such settings). All settings to be used by VSTest.Console.exe need to be passed using the /Settings command line option. Note also that the $(SolutionDir) placeholder is neither available in the Test setup/teardown batch file options nor in the Additional test execution parameters option.

<a name="test_case_filters"></a>The tests to be run can be selected via the /TestCaseFilter option. Filters need to follow the syntax as described in this blog entry. GTA supports the following test properties:

  • DisplayName
  • FullyQualifiedName
  • Type
  • Author
  • TestCategory
  • Source (i.e., binary containing the test)
  • CodeFilePath (i.e., source file containing the test)
  • Class
  • LineNumber
  • Id
  • ExecutorUri

Additionally, traits can be used in test case filters. E.g., all tests having a Duration of short can be executed by means of the filter /TestCaseFilter:"Duration=short".

<a name="parallelization"></a>Parallelization

Tests are run sequentially by default. If parallel test execution is enabled, the tests will be distributed to the available cores of your machine. To support parallel test execution, additional command line parameters can be passed to the Google Test executables (note that this feature is not restricted to parallel test execution); they can then be parsed by the test code at run time and e.g. be used to improve test isolation.

GTA remembers the durations of the executed tests to improve test scheduling for later test runs. The durations are stored in files with endings .gta.testdurations - make sure your version control system ignores these files.

Note that since VS 2015 update 1, VS allows for the parallel execution of tests (again); since update 2, Test Explorer has an own Run tests in parallel button, and VsTest.Console.exe suppports a new command line option /Parallel. Neither button nor command line option has any effect on test execution with GTA.

<a name="test_setup_and_teardown"></a>Test setup and teardown

If you need to perform some setup or teardown tasks in addition to the setup/teardown methods of your test code, you can do so by configuring test setup/teardown batch files, to which you can pass several values such as solution directory or test directory for exclusive usage of the tests.

<a name="trouble_shooting"></a>Trouble shooting

None or not all of my tests show up!

  • <a name="test_discovery_regex"></a>Switch on Debug mode at Tools/Options/Google Test Adapter/General, which will show on the test console whether your test executables are found by GTA. If they are not, you have two options:
    • Configure a Test discovery regex at the same place. In case of GTA installation via NuGet, do not forget to add the regex to the solution config file (which might be a good idea anyways).
    • If your test executable is ..\FooTests.exe, make sure that a file ..\FooTests.exe.is_google_test exists.
  • Your test executable can not run with command line option --gtest_list_tests, e.g. because it crashes. Make sure that your tests can be listed via command line; if they do not, debug your test executable, e.g. by making the according test project the startup project of your solution, and placing a breakpoint at the main method of your test executable.
  • If your project configuration contains references to DLLs which do not end up in the build directory (e.g. through Project/Properties/Linker/Input/Additional Dependencies), these DLLs will not be found when running your tests. Use option PATH extension to add the directories containing these DLLs to the test executables' PATH variable.
  • If your project happens to be a makefile project, there's a pitfall which will prevent GTA from discovering your tests: It appears that when importing a makefile project into VS, the Output setting of the project is populated from the makefile's content. However, if the makefile is edited later on such that the location of the generated test executable changes, VS does not find the test executable any more. One symptom of this is that your project can not be launched any more with F5. Make sure that the Output setting of the project is consistent with its makefile to avoid this problem.

No source locations and traits are found for my tests!

  • The test adapter is not able to find the pdb of your test executable, e.g. because it has been deleted or moved (and indicates that with a warning in the test output window). Rebuilding your solution should regenerate the pdb at an appropriate location.
  • The test executable's project settings result in a pdb file not containing the information necessary to resolve source locations and traits (see #46). Change the setting as indicated below and rebuild your solution.
    • VS 2015 and earlier: Yes or Optimize for debugging (/DEBUG)
    • VS 2017: Generate debug information optimized for sharing and publishing (/DEBUG:FULL)
  • Option Parse symbol information is set to false, making GTA not parse that information out of the pdb file intentionally. The actual set of options used is potentially composed from VS options, a solution settings file, and a user settings file; the resulting set of options will be logged to the test output window if the Print debug info option is set to true.

The Google Test Adapter extension is disabled when I start Visual Studio!

  • Your MEF cache might have been corrupted. Please refer to this issue for help.

Development of Google Test Adapter

Please refer to our wiki.

External links

Basic tutorial for using Google Test with GTA in Visual Studio




  • Google Test Runner - the starting point for GTA. We have ported the Google Test Runner extension from F# to C# and implemented various enhancements and refactorings.
  • ReSharper - awesome VS extension for .NET development, including refactoring, static analysis etc.
    • thanks to JetBrains for providing free licenses for our developers!
    • note that JetBrains' Resharper C++ can also run tests written using Google Test
  • AppVeyor - awesome .NET CI build services
    • thanks for providing free services and great support for open source projects!
  • Codecov - code coverage visualization facilities
    • thanks for providing free services for open source projects!
  • CommonMark.NET - open source Markdown to HTML converter
  • NRegFreeCom - open source library for accessing unregistered COM objects
  • NamedPipeWrapper - open source library for easily working with Named Pipes
  • OpenCover - open source .NET code coverage


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