Ability to run only one test or tests from one test case class is a feature I have been missing for years in Xcode, in SenTestingKit and then XCTest frameworks.

Yes, it is possible to run only one test by clicking on a small icon next to a test method’s name or using keyboard combination: Control + Option + Command + U however both of these methods are:

1) still very unstable in Xcode up until current 8.2.1. They stop working after you do a number of iterations on a test file, especially change the test method names, remove or add them. Highlighting is lost, icons disappear, key combination no longer works.

2) developer-unfriendly: so far I have never seen a developer who would be doing real TDD using mouse. Yes, we have to click on those icons and also put a cursor on a test body to make Control + Option + Command + U work but that’s not an IDE experience I would like to have.

Ruby testing frameworks support programmatic focused tests feature for ages, Mocha supports it, Cedar supports it. Why don’t we have such a feature in XCTest.

Recently I looked into XCTest framework’s headers and found that Apple had exposed some of the very useful classes. Using these classes a developer can build his own custom test suite and run it programmatically outside of a context of Unit Testing Bundle target where XCTests are not under programmer’s control.

The following is a proof of concept that seems to work. I haven’t tested it on large test suites but I don’t see any reasons why it would not work at scale.

Test runner

XCTestSuite.default() gives us all tests that are run by default. Tests are grouped into XCTestSuite classes. We enumerate through them recursively and look for focused tests.

Simple rule is used: methods with _focus_ in their names and classes with Focus in their names are included to a focused test suite.

let defaultSuite = XCTestSuite.default()

let focusedTestSuite = XCTestSuite(name: "Focused Test Suite")

var testSuites = [defaultSuite]
while let testSuite = testSuites.popLast() {
  for testOrSuite in testSuite.tests {
    if let test = testOrSuite as? XCTestCase {
      /// Test should have `_focus` to be included to the focused test suite.
      if let testName = test.name, testName.contains("_focus_") {
        focusedTestSuite.addTest(test)
      }
    }

    else if let testSuite = testOrSuite as? XCTestSuite {
      /// Test class should have `Focus` in its name to be included to the
      /// focused test suite.
      if let testSuiteName = testSuite.name, testSuiteName.contains("Focus") {
        focusedTestSuite.addTest(testSuite)
      } else {
        testSuites.append(testSuite)
      }
    }

    else {
      assert(false, "Should not reach here. If it does, we learn!")
    }
  }
}

if focusedTestSuite.tests.count > 0 {
  print("Focused tests were detected: running them in a custom test suite.")
  focusedTestSuite.run()
} else {
  print("No focused tests. Running default test suite.")
  defaultSuite.run()
}

Test observer

Test observer is needed to track a progress of a test suite run. Here we are only interested in seeing if there are any failing tests. If they are we probably want to exit with a non-zero exit code which is relevant for integration to a build process.

class TestObserver: NSObject, XCTestObservation {
  var testsFailed = 0
}

let testObserver = TestObserver()

let observationCenter = XCTestObservationCenter.shared()
observationCenter.addTestObserver(testObserver)

<... Runner code ...>

if focusedTestSuite.tests.count > 0 {
  print("Focused tests were detected: running them in a custom test suite.")
  focusedTestSuite.run()
} else {
  print("No focused tests. Running default test suite.")
  defaultSuite.run()
}

if (testObserver.testsFailed > 0) {
  return 1
}

return 0;

Summary

The proof of concept seems to be working. Obviously it should also be straightforward to add a skip feature: skipping test methods or the whole test classes so that they are not executed by a test runner.

Check out the full source code here.

Also explore the headers of XCTest framework. They can be found in /Applications/Xcode.app//Contents/Developer/Platforms/MacOSX.platform/Developer/Library/Frameworks/ directory.