Catch: A powerful yet simple C++ test framework

Recently, I came accross a new test framework for C++ program: Catch.

Until I found Catch, I was using Boost Test Framework. It is working quite well, but the problem is that you need to build Boost and link to the Boost Test Framework, which is not highly convenient. I wanter something lighter and easier to integrate.

Catch is header only, you only have to include one header for each test file. Moreover, it is very easy to combine several source files without linking problems.


The usage is really simple. Here is a basic example:

#include "catch.hpp"

TEST_CASE( "stupid/1=2", "Prove that one equals 2" ){
    int one = 1;
    REQUIRE( one == 2 );

The define is made to ensure that Catch will generate a main for you. This should only defined in one of your tests files if you have several. You define a new test case using the TEST_CASE macro. There are two parameters, the first one is the name of the test case, you can use any name, you don't have to use a valid C++ name. The second parameter is a longer description of the test case.

You then use REQUIRE to verify a condition. You can also use CHECK to verify a condition, the difference being that it does not stop if the condition is not true. CHECK is a good tool to put together some conditions that are related. There also exists REQUIRE_FALSE and CHECK_FALSE versions.

As you can see, there are no REQUIRE_EQUALS or things like that, you can use any comparison operator you want in the REQUIRE.

This produces an executable that will, by default, run every test contained in the executable. You can also configure the output report to be XML or JUnit if you want or run a subset of your tests. Take a look at the command line usage by running the executable with the -h option if you want more information.

Here is the result of the previous test:

catch_test_1 is a Catch v1.0 b52 host application.
Run with -? for options


src/catch/test1.cpp:6: FAILED:
  REQUIRE( one == 2 )
with expansion:
  1 == 2

test cases: 1 | 1 failed
assertions: 1 | 1 failed

For each failed condition, the source location is printed as well as some information on the test that failed. What is also interesting is the "with expansion" information that shows LHS and RHS of the comparison operator.

You can also check for exceptions with several macros:

  • REQUIRE_THROWS(expression) and CHECK_THROWS(expression) verify that an exception is thrown when the given expresssion is evaluated.

  • REQUIRE_THROWS_AS(expression, exception_type) and CHECK_THROWS_AS(expression, exception_type) verify the the given exception is thrown.

  • REQUIRE_NOTHROW(expression) and CHECK_NOTHROW(expression) verify that no exception is thrown.


I have only covered the most basic features, there is more that you can do with Catch: fixtures, logging and BDD-style test cases for instance. For more information you can read the reference documentation.

I'm really satisfied with this framework. It also can be used for Objective-C if you are interested. You can download Catch on Github.

If you want more examples, you can take a look at the ETL tests that are all made with Catch.

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