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David E. Wheeler > TAP-Parser-SourceHandler-pgTAP > pg_prove


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Name ^

pg_prove - A command-line tool for running and harnessing pgTAP tests

Usage ^

  pg_prove tests/
  pg_prove --dbname template1 test*.sql
  pg_prove -d testdb --runtests

Description ^

pg_prove is a command-line application to run one or more pgTAP tests in a PostgreSQL database. The output of the tests is harvested and processed by TAP::Harness in order to summarize the results of the test.

Tests can be written and run in one of two ways, as SQL scripts or as xUnit-style database functions.

Test Scripts

pgTAP test scripts should consist of a series of SQL statements that output TAP. Here's a simple example that assumes that the pgTAP functions have been installed in the database:

    -- Start transaction and plan the tests.
    SELECT plan(1);

    -- Run the tests.
    SELECT pass( 'My test passed, w00t!' );

    -- Finish the tests and clean up.
    SELECT * FROM finish();

Now run the tests by passing the list of SQL script names or the name of a test directory to pg_prove. Here's what it looks like when the pgTAP tests are run with pg_prove

    % pg_prove -U postgres tests/
    All tests successful.
    Files=5, Tests=216,  1 wallclock secs ( 0.06 usr  0.02 sys +  0.08 cusr  0.07 csys =  0.23 CPU)
    Result: PASS

xUnit Test Functions

pgTAP test functions should return a set of text, and then simply return the values returned by pgTAP functions, like so:

        RETURN NEXT is( MAX(nick), NULL, 'Should have no users') FROM users;
        INSERT INTO users (nick) VALUES ('theory');
    $$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

    Create OR REPLACE FUNCTION test_user(
        SELECT is( nick, 'theory', 'Should have nick') FROM users;
    $$ LANGUAGE sql;

Once you have these functions defined in your database, you can run them with pg_prove by using the --runtests option.

    % pg_prove --dbname mydb --runtests
    All tests successful.
    Files=1, Tests=32,  0 wallclock secs ( 0.02 usr  0.01 sys +  0.01 cusr  0.00 csys =  0.04 CPU)
    Result: PASS

Be sure to pass the --schema option if your test functions are all in one schema, and the --match option if they have names that don't start with "test". For example, if you have all of your test functions in the "test" schema and ending with "test," run the tests like so:

    pg_prove --dbname mydb --schema test --match 'test$'

Options ^

 -b   --psql-bin PSQL        Location of the psql client.
 -d,  --dbname DBNAME        Database to which to connect.
 -U,  --username USERNAME    User with which to connect.
 -h,  --host HOST            Host to which to connect.
 -p,  --port PORT            Port to which to connect.
 -P,  --pset OPTION=VALUE    Set psql key/value printing option.
 -S,  --set VAR=VALUE        Set variables for psql session.
 -R   --runtests             Run xUnit test using runtests().
 -s,  --schema SCHEMA        Schema in which to find xUnit tests.
 -x,  --match REGEX          Regular expression to find xUnit tests.

      --ext                  Set the extension for tests (default .pg)
 -r,  --recurse              Recursively descend into directories.
      --ignore-exit          Ignore exit status from test scripts.
      --trap                 Trap Ctrl-C and print summary on interrupt.
      --harness              Define test harness to use.
 -j,  --jobs N               Run N test jobs in parallel (try 9.)
      --rc RCFILE            Process options from rcfile
      --norc                 Don't process default .proverc
      --state OPTION=VALUE   Set persistent state options.

 -v,  --verbose              Print all test lines.
 -f,  --failures             Show failed tests.
 -o,  --comments             Show comments and diagnostics.
      --directives           Only show results with TODO or SKIP directives.
 -q,  --quiet                Suppress some test output while running tests.
 -Q,  --QUIET                Only print summary results.
      --parse                Show full list of TAP parse errors, if any.
      --normalize            Normalize TAP output in verbose output
 -D   --dry                  Dry run. Show test that would have run.
      --merge                Merge test scripts' STDERR and STDOUT.
 -t   --timer                Print elapsed time after each test.
 -c,  --color                Colored test output (default).
      --nocolor              Do not color test output.
      --shuffle              Run the tests in random order.
      --reverse              Run the tests in reverse order.
 -a,  --archive FILENAME     Store the resulting TAP in an archive file.
      --formatter            Result formatter to use.
      --count                Show X/Y test count when not verbose (default)
      --nocount              Disable the X/Y test count.

 -H,  --help                 Print a usage statement and exit.
 -?,                         Print a usage statement and exit.
 -m,  --man                  Print the complete documentation and exit.
 -V,  --version              Print the version number and exit.

Options Details ^

Database Options

  pg_prove --psql-bin /usr/local/pgsql/bin/psql
  pg_prove -b /usr/local/bin/psql

Path to the psql program, which will be used to actually run the tests. Defaults to psql, which should work well, when it is in your path.

  pg_prove --dbname try
  pg_prove -d postgres

The name of database to which to connect. Defaults to the value of the $PGDATABASE environment variable or to the system username.

  pg_prove --username foo
  pg_prove -U postgres

PostgreSQL user name to connect as. Defaults to the value of the $PGUSER environment variable or to the operating system name of the user running the application.

  pg_prove --host
  pg_prove -h dev.local

Specifies the host name of the machine on which the server is running. If the value begins with a slash, it is used as the directory for the Unix-domain socket. Defaults to the value of the $PGHOST environment variable or localhost.

  pg_prove --port 1234
  pg_prove -p 666

Specifies the TCP port or the local Unix-domain socket file extension on which the server is listening for connections. Defaults to the value of the $PGPORT environment variable or, if not set, to the port specified at compile time, usually 5432.

  pg_prove --pset tuples_only=0
  pg_prove -P null=[NULL]

Specifies printing options in the style of \pset in the psql program. See for details on the supported options.

  pg_prove --set MY_CONTRACT=321
  pg_prove -S TEST_SEARCH_PATH=test,public

Sets local variables for psql in the style of \set in the psql program. See for details on the supported options.

  pg_prove --runtests
  pg_prove -r

Don't run any test scripts, but just use the runtests() pgTAP function to run xUnit tests. This ends up looking like a single test script has been run, when in fact no test scripts have been run. Instead, pg_prove tells psql to run something like:

  psql --command 'SELECT * FROM runtests()'

You should use this option when you've written your tests in xUnit style, where they're all defined in test functions already loaded in the database.

  pg_prove --schema test
  pg_prove -s mytest

Used with --runtests, and, in fact, implicitly forces --runtests to be true. This option can be used to specify the name of a schema in which to find xUnit functions to run. Basically, it tells psql to run something like:

  psql --command "SELECT * FROM runtests('test'::name)"
  pg_prove --match 'test$'
  pg_prove -x _test_

Used with --runtests, and, in fact, implicitly forces --runtests to be true. This option can be used to specify a POSIX regular expression that will be used to search for xUnit functions to run. Basically, it tells psql to run something like:

  psql --command "SELECT * FROM runtests('_test_'::text)"

This will run any visible functions with the string "_test_" in their names. This can be especially useful if you just want to run a single test in a given schema. For example, this:

  pg_prove --schema testing --match '^test_widgets$'

Will have psql execute the runtests() function like so:

 SELECT * FROM runtests('testing'::name, '^test_widgets$'::text);

Behavioral Options

  pg_prove --ext .sql tests/

Set the extension for test files (default .pg). May be specified multiple times if you have test scripts with multiple extensions, though all must be pgTAP tests:

  pg_prove --ext .sql --ext .pg --ext .pgt

If you want to mix pgTAP tests with other TAP-emitting tests, like Perl tests, use prove instead, where --ext identifies any test file, and --pgtap-option suffix= lets you specify one or more extensions for pgTAP tests.

  prove --source Perl \
        --ext .t --ext .pg \
        --source pgTAP --pgtap-option
  pg_prove --recurse tests/
  pg_prove --recurse sql/

Recursively descend into directories when searching for tests. Be sure to specify --ext if your tests do not end in .pg. Not relevant with --runtests.

  pg_prove --ignore-exit

Ignore exit status from test scripts. Normally if a script triggers a database exception, psql will exit with an error code and, even if all tests passed, the test will be considered a failure. Use --ignore-exit to ignore such situations (at your own peril).

  pg_prove --trap

Trap Ctrl-C and print a summary on interrupt.

  pg_prove --harness TAP::Harness::Color

Specify a subclass of TAP::Harness to use for the test harness. Defaults to TAP::Harness (unless --archive is specified, in which case it uses TAP::Harness::Archive).


Run N test jobs in parallel (try 9.)

  pg_prove --rc pg_prove.rc

Process options from the specified configuration file.

If --rc is not specified and ./.proverc or ~/.proverc exist, they will be read and the options they contain processed before the command line options. Options in configuration files are specified in the same way as command line options:

           # .proverc

Under Windows and VMS the option file is named _proverc rather than .proverc and is sought only in the current directory.

Due to how options are loaded you cannot use .proverc for pg_prove-specific options, only prove options. However, <pg_prove> does support all of the usual libpq Environment Variables.


Do not process ./.proverc or ~/.proverc.


You can ask pg_prove to remember the state of previous test runs and select and/or order the tests to be run based on that saved state.

The --state switch requires an argument which must be a comma separated list of one or more of the following options.


Run the same tests as the last time the state was saved. This makes it possible, for example, to recreate the ordering of a shuffled test.

    # Run all tests in random order
    pg_prove --state save --shuffle

    # Run them again in the same order
    pg_prove --state last

Run only the tests that failed on the last run.

    # Run all tests
    pg_prove --state save

    # Run failures
    pg_prove --state failed

If you also specify the save option newly passing tests will be excluded from subsequent runs.

    # Repeat until no more failures
    pg_prove --state failed,save

Run only the passed tests from last time. Useful to make sure that no new problems have been introduced.


Run all tests in normal order. Multiple options may be specified, so to run all tests with the failures from last time first:

    pg_prove --state failed,all,save

Run the tests that most recently failed first. The last failure time of each test is stored. The hot option causes tests to be run in most-recent- failure order.

    pg_prove --state hot,save

Tests that have never failed will not be selected. To run all tests with the most recently failed first use

    pg_prove --state hot,all,save

This combination of options may also be specified thus

    pg_prove --state adrian

Run any tests with todos.


Run the tests in slowest to fastest order. This is useful in conjunction with the -j parallel testing switch to ensure that your slowest tests start running first.

    pg_prove --state slow -j9

Run test tests in fastest to slowest order.


Run the tests in newest to oldest order based on the modification times of the test scripts.


Run the tests in oldest to newest order.


Run those test scripts that have been modified since the last test run.


Save the state on exit. The state is stored in a file called .pg_prove (_pg_prove on Windows and VMS) in the current directory.

The --state switch may be used more than once.

    pg_prove --state hot --state all,save

Display Options

  pg_prove --verbose
  pg_prove -v

Display standard output of test scripts while running them. This behavior can also be triggered by setting the $TEST_VERBOSE environment variable to a true value.

  pg_prove --failures
  pg_prove -f

Show failed tests.


Show comments, such as diagnostics output by diag(). Enabled by default. use --no-comments to disable.

  pg_prove --directives

Only show results with TODO or SKIP directives.

  pg_prove --quiet
  pg_prove -q

Suppress some test output while running tests.

  pg_prove --QUIET
  pg_prove -Q

Only print summary results.

  pg_prove --parse

Enables the display of any TAP parsing errors as tests run. Useful for debugging new TAP emitters.

  pg_prove --normalize

Normalize TAP output in verbose output. Errors in the harnessed TAP corrected by the parser will be corrected.

  pg_prove --dry tests/
  pg_prove -D

Dry run. Just outputs a list of the tests that would have been run.


Merge test scripts' STDERR with their STDOUT. Not really relevant to pgTAP tests, which only print to STDERR when an exception is thrown.

  pg_prove --timer
  pg_prove -t

Print elapsed time after each test file.

  pg_prove --color
  pg_prove -c

Display test results in color. Colored test output is the default, but if output is not to a terminal, color is disabled.

Requires Term::ANSIColor on Unix-like platforms and Win32::Console on Windows. If the necessary module is not installed colored output will not be available.


Do not display test results in color.

  pg_prove --shuffle tests/

Test scripts are normally run in alphabetical order. Use --reverse to run them in in random order. Not relevant when used with --runtests.

  pg_prove --reverse tests/

Test scripts are normally run in alphabetical order. Use --reverse to run them in reverse order. Not relevant when used with --runtests.

  pg_prove --archive tap.tar.gz
  pg_prove -a test_output.tar
  pg_prove --formatter TAP::Formatter::File
  pg_prove -f TAP::Formatter::Console

The name of the class to use to format output. The default is TAP::Formatter::Console, or TAP::Formatter::File if the output isn't a TTY.

  pg_prove --count

Show the X/Y test count as tests run when not verbose (default).

  pg_prove --nocount

Disable the display of the X/Y test count as tests run.

Send the TAP output to a TAP archive file as well as to the normal output destination. The archive formats supported are .tar and .tar.gz.

Metadata Options

  pg_prove --help
  pg_prove -H

Outputs a brief description of the options supported by pg_prove and exits.

  pg_prove --man
  pg_prove -m

Outputs this documentation and exits.

  pg_prove --version
  pg_prove -V

Outputs the program name and version and exits.

Author ^

David E. Wheeler <>

Copyright ^

Copyright (c) 2008-2016 David E. Wheeler. Some Rights Reserved.

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