Integrated Language Definition Testing

June 13, 2011

This paper describes an extension of Spoofax with support for testing of language definitions including the testing of editor services for a language. The language fragments in tests get the same editor support as in regular editors.

Lennart C. L. Kats, Rob Vermaas, Eelco Visser. Integrated Language Definition Testing. Enabling Test-Driven Language Development. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages, and Applications, OOPSLA 2011. ACM, Portland, Oregon, USA, 2011.

Abstract The reliability of implementations of language definitions – compilers, interpreters, and development environments – is essential for effective software development and maintenance. They are often tested only as an afterthought. Languages with a smaller scope, such as domain-specific languages, often remain untested. General-purpose testing techniques and test case generation methods fall short in providing a low-threshold solution for test-driven language development. In this paper we introduce the notion of a language-parametric testing language (LPTL) that provides a reusable, generic basis for declaratively specifying language definition tests. We integrate the syntax, semantics, and editor services of a language under test into the LPTL for writing test inputs. This paper describes the design of an LPTL and the tool support provided for it, shows use cases using examples, and describes our implementation in the form of the Spoofax testing language.