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Apache AntUnit

Apache AntUnit™

Apache AntUnit is an Antlib that provides a test framework for Apache Ant tasks and types.

Apache AntUnit 1.4.1

Jul 7, 2021 - Apache AntUnit 1.4.1 Released

Apache AntUnit 1.4.1 is now available for download as binary or source release.

This release fixes the antlib.xml descriptor so that AntUnit can now be used with a user-defined URI rather than having AntUnit's preferred URI hardcoded..


Initially all tests for Apache Ant tasks were written as individual JUnit test cases. Pretty soon it was clear that most tests needed to perform common tasks like reading a build file, initializing a project instance with it and executing a target. At this point BuildFileTest was invented, a base class for almost all task test cases.

BuildFileTest works fine and in fact has been picked up by the Ant-Contrib Project and others as well.

Over time a new pattern evolved, more and more tests only executed a target and didn't check any effects. Instead that target contained the assertions as a <fail> task. This is an example taken from the build file for the ANTLR task (using Ant 1.7 features):

  <target name="test3" depends="setup">
    <antlr target="antlr.g" outputdirectory="${tmp.dir}"/>
        <!-- to prove each of these files exists;
             ANTLR >= 2.7.6 leaves behind new (.smap) files as well. -->
        <resourcecount when="ne" count="5">
          <fileset dir="${tmp.dir}">
            <include name="CalcParserTokenTypes.txt" />
            <include name="CalcParserTokenTypes.java" />
            <include name="CalcLexer.java" />
            <include name="CalcParser.java" />
            <include name="CalcTreeWalker.java" />

where the corresponding JUnit testcase has been reduced to

public class ANTLRTest extends BuildFileTest {

    private final static String TASKDEFS_DIR = "src/etc/testcases/taskdefs/optional/antlr/";

    public ANTLRTest(String name) {

    public void setUp() {
        configureProject(TASKDEFS_DIR + "antlr.xml");

    public void tearDown() {

    public void test3() {

This approach has a couple of advantages, one of them is that it is very easy to translate an example build file from a bug report into a test case. If you ask a user for a testcase for a given bug in Ant, he now doesn't need to understand JUnit or how to fit a test into Ant's existing tests any more.

AntUnit takes this approach to testing even further, it removes JUnit completely and it comes with a set of predefined <assert> tasks in order to reuse common kind of checks.

It turns out that AntUnit lends itself as a solution to other problems as well. The assertions are an easy way to validate a setup before even starting the build process, for example. AntUnit could also be used for functional and integration tests outside of the scope of Ant tasks (assert contents of databases after running an application, assert contents of HTTP responses ...). This is an area that will need more research.


antunit Task

The <antunit> task drives the tests much like <junit> does for JUnit tests.

When called on a build file, the task will start a new Ant project for that build file and scan for targets with names that start with "test". For each such target it then will

  1. Execute the target named setUp, if there is one.
  2. Execute the target itself - if this target depends on other targets the normal Ant rules apply and the dependent targets are executed first.
  3. Execute the target names tearDown, if there is one.


The base task is <assertTrue>. It accepts a single nested condition and throws a subclass of BuildException named AssertionFailedException if that condition evaluates to false.

This task could have been implemented using <macrodef> and <fail>, but in fact it is a "real" task so that it is possible to throw a subclass of BuildException. The <antunit> task catches this exception and marks the target as failed, any other type of Exception (including other BuildException) are test errors.

Together with <assertTrue> there are many predefined assertions for common conditions, most of these are only macros.

Other Tasks

The <logcapturer> captures all messages that pass Ant's logging system and provides them via a reference inside of the project. If you want to assert certain log messages, you need to start this task (prior to your target under test) and use the <assertLogContains> assertion.

<expectFailure> is a task container that catches any BuildException thrown by tasks nested into it. If no exception has been thrown it will cause a test failure (by throwing an AssertionFailedException).


Part of the library is the AntUnitListener interface that can be used to record test results. The <antunit> task accepts arbitrary many listeners and relays test results to them.

Currently two implementations - <plainlistener> and xmllistener modelled after the "plain" and "xml" JUnit listeners - are bundled with the library.


This is a way to test that <touch> actually creates a file if it doesn't exist:

<project xmlns:au="antlib:org.apache.ant.antunit">
  <!-- is called prior to the test -->
  <target name="setUp">
    <property name="foo" value="foo"/>

  <!-- is called after the test, even if that caused an error -->
  <target name="tearDown">
    <delete file="${foo}" quiet="true"/>

  <!-- the actual test case -->
  <target name="testTouchCreatesFile">
    <au:assertFileDoesntExist file="${foo}"/>
    <touch file="${foo}"/>
    <au:assertFileExists file="${foo}"/>

When running a task like

      <fileset dir="." includes="touch.xml"/>

from a buildfile of its own you'll get a result that looks like

[au:antunit] Build File: /tmp/touch.xml
[au:antunit] Tests run: 1, Failures: 0, Errors: 0, Time elapsed: 0.249 sec
[au:antunit] Target: testTouchCreatesFile took 0.183 sec

Total time: 1 second