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

In Visual Studio 2017 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. 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.

Add the item template (Visual Studio 2017 version 15.6 and later)

  1. To create a .cpp file for your tests, right-click on the project node in Solution Explorer and choose Add New Item.

    Boost.Test Item Template

  2. The new file contains a sample test method. Build your project to enable Test Explorer to discover the method.

The item template uses the single-header variant of Boost.Test, but you can modify the #include path to use the standalone library variant. For more information, see Add include directives.

Create a test project

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 and configure a console application project to hold your tests.

  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.

  4. Delete the main function in the .cpp file.

  5. If you are using the single-header or dynamic library version of Boost.Test, go to Add include directives. If you are using the static library version, then you have to perform some additional configuration:

    a. 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.

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

    <PropertyGroup Label="Globals">

    c. Save and close the *.vcxproj file, and then reload the project.

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

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

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

    g. Choose OK to close the property pages.

Add include directives

  1. 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're 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