[swift-evolution] adding automated-testing of uncompilable features in XCTest

Benjamin Spratling bspratling at mac.com
Sun Dec 11 23:02:07 CST 2016

	I’d like to see how much interest there is for adding these to the XCTest module.  If I have missed some pro or con, or missed a technical point, your feedback is welcome before I go to the lengths to draw up a formal proposal.

There are several features of Swift which cannot be effectively automated-tested.
For instance, when a type or one of its members is private or file private, an outside test suite cannot access it, and the information that the type is private is not included in a Mirror.  There are similar concerns for testability with internal, and public access levels.  Tests can be written ensuring these access levels are >= some level, but not == or < some level.  In other words the very usefulness of these features cannot be tested.

Other attributes to be tested in this way are:

- Mutability of a member.  No automated test can be written which verifies that a function cannot be called on a let struct, or that a property cannot be set at a specific access level.

- That a stored property is weak or unowned.

- That a class or class member is “final”

These are concepts which need to be unit-tested to ensure good design is not broken, but do not need to be included in a release build, so including them in the XCTest framework seems like an appropriate destination.
Moreover, the information for all of these features exists in the .swiftmodule files, which are included in test builds, but sometimes stripped for release.

Since these features inherently have to do with testing features which cannot be stated in compiled code, I recommend specifying names with Strings.  Here are some examples of what I would like to write in my test code:

XCTAssertEqual( Module(named:”SingMusicLayout”)?.type(named:”NoteSetter”)?.property(named:”session”)?.accessLevel, .private)

XCTAssertEqual( Module(named:”SingMusicLayout”)?.type(named:”ScaleLayout”)?.method(named:”baselineOffset(for:PitchInterval)->CGFloat”)?.mutable, false)

1.	Building an independent .swiftmodule parser in a single Swift module, which can be included in test builds.
		+ Can be distributed independently from Swift sources, requiring 0 buy-in from Swift community
		+ requires a single additional module for the test.
		- Depends on ever-changing binary interface.
		: Intractable, not DRY

2.	Use existing sourcekitd.
		+ harnesses changes in the compiler’s source code with SourceKit
		- cannot be run in a test suite without extensive work by user to configure bundles explicitly.
			Exceptionally poor user experience
		: sourcekitd XPC architecture only works on macOS

3.	Use a standalone tool for tests
		+ harnesses changes in the compiler’s source code with SourceKit
		+ no installation in user’s source code necessary
		: cannot be effectively run by SPM test infrastructure

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