HWUT’s way of looking at things

HWUT’s decision of a test being ‘OK’ or ‘FAIL’ depends on a textual comparison of output that a test application delivers with a nominal text. The nominal text has been stored some time earlier when the application was considered functional.

Textual comparisons are very strict. A slight change from Unix newlines 0x0A to DOS newlines 0x0D, 0x0A already breaks a plain textual comparison. Similar things such as one additional whitespace or tabulator are equally prone to break strict equality while the semantics would still fit. Fortunately, HWUT is not that strict.


The smallest tiniest deviation

might bring a hyperventilation.

Wherelse, you calmy hibernate

if you know what you tolerate.

HWUT’s way of looking at things lets the user control the level of tolerance. By this means, the effort to adapt unit tests upon software changes and platform migrations shall be omitted or at least minimalized. The ‘cockpit’ of tolerance control is composed of several easy-peasy concepts. The subsequent sections explain how they work and how they are supposed to be applied.

Empty lines and whitespace

Any empty line appearing in the output is treated as if it was not there. It is not subject to comparison. Newlines of the DOS style are internally transformed (0x0D, 0x0A) into newlines of the Unix style (0x0A). Thus, both are equivalent. Tabulators (0x09) are replaced by a single space (0x20). Any number of adjacent spaces are replaced by a single space. Whitespace at the beginning of a line and the end of the line is omitted.

As a result, the following two texts are equal in the way that HWUT is looking at things. The two types of newlines are made visible by \n (0x0A) and \r\n (0x0D, 0x0A). Tabulators are represented by \t.


The Cro-Magnons\tshared the European landscape\r\n
   with Neanderthals for 10,000 years.  \n


The Cro-Magnons shared  the  European landscape\n
with    Neanderthals    for    10,000    years.\n

Whitespace shrinking can be disabled using response options. When NO-SHRINK; is responded whitespace shrinking is totally disabled. With NO-SHRINK-SPACE; the shrinking of spaces and tabulators is disabled. With NO-SHRINK-EL; the shrinking of empty lines is disabled.


Comments which are not subject to the test but explain the output may be specified in ‘comments’. A ‘comment’ is a line that starts with ## or ends with ##. Such lines are ignored and not subject to comparison. Example:

## Algo determines human species'names, shared content,\n
## and the amount of time they were living together.\n
The Cro-Magnons shared the Antartica landscape\n
with Grimaldi Men for 21 seconds.\n
12 March, 2014 -- state of science.##\n

The above output might cause a FAIL message–most likely. But the lines starting or ending with ## are not the reason.


Sometimes, the change of things cannot be controlled. By means of analogies HWUT can still check whether the changes happen consistently. For example, the exact address of a pointer, a process id of an observer application, time stamps, and the like are candidates for analogies. The following, fragment defines an analogy:


Each analogy must match consistently with the same counterpart. So, if an analogy ((Fritz)) was matched with ((Kermit)) then it must do so for all occurencies. Consider the following two fragments which are considered equal in the way that HWUT is looking at things.


Einst wandelte ((Heidi)) mit ihrem Ehegatten ((Fritz)) durch
die sonnigen Gaerten von ((Pforzheim)). Da kam ein ((Drache)) und frass
((Fritz)) und ((Heidi)) und die ganze Stadt ((Pforzheim)) schaute zu.


Einst wandelte ((Peggy)) mit ihrem Ehegatten ((Kermit)) durch
die sonnigen Gaerten von ((Bronx)). Da kam ein ((Storch)) und frass
((Kermit)) und ((Peggy)) und die ganze Stadt ((Bronx)) schaute zu.

Both fragments are equal, because Peggy is a consistent analogy for Heidi, Kermit consistently appears instead of Fritz, and Bronx consistently appears in the place of Pforzheim. The analogy Drache appears only once. It does not impose any constraints. Since it appears only once it acts like a wildcard.

Analogies not only support fairy tails. In real-world applications, pointers into memory are, for example, depend on the underlying memory allocation system. While precise values of pointers may change each time an application is executed, the role of each remains the same. A list of pointers may be built sequentially and finally all pointers must be present in the list.:

added: ((0x80FE2123))
added: ((0x80FE3831))
added: ((0x80FE3781))
added: ((0x80FE2654))

list content: ((0x80FE2654))

In this example, the concrete value of a pointer is unimportant. It is verified, however, that is appears consistently. The shape of analogies can be defined by the user in response options to --hwut-info. If a python script responds the following manner.

Analogies are by default bracketted in (( and )) markers. The response option ANALOGY allows the user to define a customized brackets. Firt the opening bracket, then the closing bracket is to be specified. Example in Python:

if "--hwut-info" in sys.argv:
     print "This is my test;"
     print "ANALOGY:  <<, >>;"

The above example specifies << for the opener of an analogy and >> as a closer.

Happy Patterns

Sometimes, the precise shape of things cannot be determined but their outline can. Fuzzy outlines can be caught by happy patterns. A happy pattern that matches in a line requires only that the counterpart matches at the same position. It is no longer required that the line matches strictly. Those patterns are called ‘happy patterns’ because two lines which might trigger a FAIL due to their textual differences, might actually be OK because they matched a happy pattern.

Example: A test procedure supervises searches for the appearance of some macros in source code. The content of the lines is known, but the line numbers are subject to frequent change. Such an output might look as follows.

simple.c:312: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT true
main.c:12:    #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT false
control.c:62: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT true

At some point later in time, the output might look like:

simple.c:331: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT true
main.c:12:    #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT false
control.c:65: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT true

because some people edited the files simepl.c and control.c. The output is still totally OK, but a textual comparison would fail. Using a happy pattern such as the following helps.


This pattern matches an extension ‘.c’, followed by a number in colons. If a pattern matches in the good file’s line at a position x, then it must match the output file’s line at the same position x. But, it does not have to be textually the same.

With the happy pattern defined, the second output is OK. .c:331: appears in the place of .c:312: and matches the happy pattern. Also, the matching .c:65: appears in the place of .c:62:.

If the values of true and false are equally subject to change but not subject to test, then another happy pattern makes the test even more robust.


The dollar sign at the end tells that the pattern must match at the end of a line. Now, even the following output is considered to match the first.:

simple.c:331: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT false
main.c:12:    #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT true
control.c:65: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT false

Whenever false or true appears at the end of the line they differ from the original. But they match a happy pattern, and thus each line is fine.


Happy Pattern Interference

Some patterns sparkle happyness,

while hords of them can cause a mess.

What words may mean might not be clear,

if too much patterns interfere.

Multiple happy patterns may appear in a single line. But there is danger of interference. In such cases, patterns must be defined carefully, so that they cannot interfere. Staying with the previous example, a file name pattern can be defined:


and a pattern to appear some later in a line:


Both are prone to interfere. An output line:

obstruent.c:4711: #define GROMBORZ_OPTION_FLOAT true

triggers a FAIL event. This is so, since the file name obstruent.c contains true as a substring. Since it does not appear in the position of the other true it fails. Using line and word boundaries and concentrating on the element of change are key strategies to avoid interference. Defining the latter pattern as:


i.e. requiring word boundaries arround the boolean expressions avoids such interference. The ^ requiring the beginning of a line and $ requiring the end of a line are equally good candidates to rescue.

Happy patterns are defined has response options by means of the HAPPY keyword. For example, a bash script requires the happy patterns .c:[0-9]+: and (true|false)$ the following way

if [ "--hwut-info"="$1" ]; then
    echo "My Test;"
    echo "HAPPY: .c:[0-9]+:;"
    echo "HAPPY: (true|false)$;"

The semi-colon is a delimter for response options. If it is supposed to appear in happy patterns, than it must be preceeded by a backslash, i.e. it is specified as \;.


In situations where the sequence of things can hardly be determined the potpourri feature comes to rescue. If a list of lines is framed by |||| and |||| markers, then its particular sequence is unimportant.

Consider, for example, a simple implementation of a name container in absence of a sort function. All that can be said is that certain names shall be there. It is likely that the internal representation may change and therefore the sequence might change. A potpourri region can now be used to implement a test which checks only for the presence of a set of names but not for the sequence. The following two outputs are considered equal.


Name List:
    Don Quichote.
    Alfred the Great.
    Edward the Elder.
    Otto Walkes.
    Walter von der Vogelweide.


Name List:
    Walter von der Vogelweide.
    Alfred the Great.
    Otto Walkes.
    Edward the Elder.
    Don Quichote.

Note, that analogies have no matching effect inside potpourri sections.


No Analogies and Potpourri

The wise man does not try to see

analogies in potpourri.

Blocks which are supposed to belong together can either be built using the ---- markers for begin and end. The following two definitions are equivalent as in the following example:

Name List:
    Alfred the Great.
    Edward the Elder.
    Walter von der Vogelweide.
    Otto Walkes.
    Don Quichote.


HWUT’s view on things is much smarter than pure textual comparison.

HAPPY: pattern;
ANALOGY: open, close;