How to use Boost.Test for C++ in Visual Studio

In Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5 and later, the Boost.Test test adapter is integrated into the Visual Studio IDE as a component of the Desktop development with C++ workload.

Test Adapter for Boost.Test

If you don't have the Desktop development with C++ workload installed, open Visual Studio Installer and select Modify. Select the Desktop development with C++ workload, then choose the Modify button.

Install Boost

Boost.Test requires Boost! If you do not have Boost installed, we recommend that you use the Vcpkg package manager.

  1. Follow the instructions at Vcpkg: a C++ Package Manager for Windows to install vcpkg (if you don't already have it).

  2. Install the Boost.Test dynamic or static library:

    • Run vcpkg install boost-test to install the Boost.Test dynamic library.


    • Run vcpkg install boost-test:x86-windows-static to install the Boost.Test static library.

  3. Run vcpkg integrate install to configure Visual Studio with the library and include paths to the Boost headers and binaries.

Create a project for your tests


In Visual Studio 2017 version 15.5, no pre-configured test project or item templates are available for Boost.Test. Therefore, you have to create a console application project to hold your tests. Test templates for Boost.Test are planned for inclusion in a future version of Visual Studio.

  1. In Solution Explorer, right click on the solution node and choose Add > New Project....

  2. In the left pane, choose Visual C++ > Windows Desktop, and then choose the Windows Console Application template.

  3. Give the project a name and choose OK.

Configure the project to run Boost.Test tests.

  1. To edit the project file, first unload it. In Solution Explorer, right-click the project node and choose Unload Project. Then, right-click the project node and choose Edit <name>.vcxproj.

  2. Add two lines to the Globals property group as shown here:

    <PropertyGroup Label="Globals">
  3. Save and close the *.vcxproj file, and then reload the project.

  4. To open the Property Pages, right-click on the project node and choose Properties.

  5. Expand C/C++ > Code Generation, and then select Runtime Library. Select /MTd for debug static runtime library or /MT for release static runtime library.

  6. Expand Linker > System. Verify that SubSystem is set to Console.

  7. Choose OK to close the property pages.

Add include directives

  1. If there is a main function in your test .cpp file, delete it.

  2. In your test .cpp file, add any needed #include directives to make your program's types and functions visible to the test code. Typically, the program is up one level in the folder hierarchy. If you type #include "../", an IntelliSense window appears and enables you to select the full path to the header file.

    Add #include directives

    You can use the standalone library with:

    #include <boost/test/unit_test.hpp>

    Or, use the single-header version with:

    #include <boost/test/included/unit_test.hpp>

    Then, define BOOST_TEST_MODULE.

The following example is sufficient for the test to be discoverable in Test Explorer:

#include <boost/test/included/unit_test.hpp\> //single-header
#include "../MyProgram/MyClass.h" // project being tested
#include <string>

    std::string expected_value = "Bill";

    // assume MyClass is defined in MyClass.h
    // and get_value() has public accessibility
    MyClass mc;
    BOOST_CHECK(expected_value == mc.get_value());

Write and run tests

You are now ready to write and run Boost Tests. See the Boost Test Library Documentation for information about the test macros. See Run unit tests with Test Explorer for information about discovering, running, and grouping your tests by using Test Explorer.

See also

Writing Unit Tests for C/C++