Testing command line apps with App::Cmd

1. November 2013 um 10:49 Keine Kommentare

This posting has also been published at blogs.perl.org.

Ricardo Signes’ App::Cmd has been praised a lot so I gave it a try for my recent command line app. In summary, the module is great although I missed some minor features and documentation (reminder to all: if you miss some feature in a CPAN module, don’t create yet another module but try to improve the existing one!). One feature I like a lot is how App::Cmd facilitates writing tests for command line apps. After having written a short wrapper around App::Cmd::Tester my formerly ugly unit tests look very simple and clean. Have a look at this example:

use Test::More;
use App::PAIA::Tester;


paia qw(config);
is stdout, "{}\n";
is error, undef;

paia qw(config -c x.json --verbose);
is error, "failed to open config file x.json\n";
ok exit_code; 

paia qw(config --config x.json --verbose foo bar);
is output, "# saved config file x.json\n";

paia qw(config foo bar);
paia qw(config base http://example.org/);
is exit_code, 0;
is output, '';

paia qw(config);
is_deeply stdout_json, {
    base => 'http://example.org/',
    foo => 'bar',
}, "get full config"


The application is called paia – that’s how it called at command line and that’s how it is simply called as function in the tests. The wrapper class (here: App::PAIA::Tester) creates a singleton App::Cmd::Tester::Result object and exports its methods (stdout, stderr, exit_code…). This alone makes the test much more readable. The wrapper further exports two methods to set up a testing environment (new_paia_test) and to finish testing (done_paia_test). In my case the setup creates an empty temporary directory, other applications might clean up environment variables etc. Depending on your application you might also add some handy functions like stdout_json to parse the app’s output in a form that can better be tested.

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