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

Brian Gesiak modocache at gmail.com
Tue Dec 13 07:45:31 CST 2016

Derrick and Jean-Daniel, it's my understanding that Benjamin is proposing adding a way *to test that members are private/internal/public*, not a way to access private members in tests. If you'd like to discuss what you're describing, it's probably best to start a separate email thread.

- Brian Gesiak

On Tue, Dec 13, 2016 at 2:35 AM -0500, "Jean-Daniel via swift-evolution" <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

An interesting reading about testing private members:

Le 12 déc. 2016 à 06:10, Derrick Ho via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> a écrit :
It bugs me as well that we can not test private components using XCTest.  Objective-c never had this problem since privacy doesn't exist.  I would like to see a version of XCTest that allows us to test every component.

On Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 12:02 AM Benjamin Spratling via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

        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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