Testing Conan packages

In all the previous sections of the tutorial, we used the test_package. It was invoked automatically at the end of the conan create command after building our package verifying that the package is created correctly. Let’s explain the test_package in more detail in this section:

Please, first clone the sources to recreate this project. You can find them in the examples2 repository on GitHub:

$ git clone https://github.com/conan-io/examples2.git
$ cd examples2/tutorial/creating_packages/testing_packages

Some important notes to have in mind about the test_package:

  • The test_package folder is different from unit or integration tests. These tests are “package” tests, and validate that the package is properly created, and that the package consumers will be able to link against it and reuse it.

  • It is a small Conan project itself, it contains its own conanfile.py, and its source code including build scripts, that depends on the package being created, and builds and execute a small application that requires the library in the package.

  • It doesn’t belong to the package. It only exist in the source repository, not in the package.

The test_package folder for our hello/1.0 Conan package has the following contents:

 ├── CMakeLists.txt
 ├── conanfile.py
 └── src
     └── example.cpp

Let’s have a look at the different files that are part of the test_package. First, example.cpp is just a minimal example of how to use the libhello library that we are packaging:

#include "hello.h"

int main() {

Then the CMakeLists.txt file to tell CMake how to build the example:

cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.15)
project(PackageTest CXX)

find_package(hello CONFIG REQUIRED)

add_executable(example src/example.cpp)
target_link_libraries(example hello::hello)

Finally, the recipe for the test_package that consumes the hello/1.0 Conan package:

import os

from conan import ConanFile
from conan.tools.cmake import CMake, cmake_layout
from conan.tools.build import can_run

class helloTestConan(ConanFile):
    settings = "os", "compiler", "build_type", "arch"
    generators = "CMakeDeps", "CMakeToolchain"

    def requirements(self):

    def build(self):
        cmake = CMake(self)

    def layout(self):

    def test(self):
        if can_run(self):
            cmd = os.path.join(self.cpp.build.bindir, "example")
            self.run(cmd, env="conanrun")

Let’s go through the most relevant parts:

  • We add the requirements in the requirements() method, but in this case we use the tested_reference_str attribute that Conan sets to pass to the test_package. This is a convenience attribute to avoid hardcoding the package name in the test_package so that we can reuse the same test_package for several versions of the same Conan package. In our case, this variable will take the hello/1.0 value.

  • We define a test() method. This method will only be invoked in the test_package recipes. It executes immediately after build() is called, and it’s meant to run some executable or tests on binaries to prove the package is correctly created. A couple of comments about the contents of our test() method:

    • We are using the conan.tools.build.cross_building tool to check if we can run the built executable in our platform. This tool will return the value of the tools.build.cross_building:can_run in case it’s set. Otherwise it will return if we are cross-building or not. It’s an useful feature for the case your architecture can run more than one target. For instance, Mac M1 machines can run both armv8 and x86_64.

    • We run the example binary, that was generated in the self.cpp.build.bindir folder using the environment information that Conan put in the run environment. Conan will then invoke a launcher containing the runtime environment information, anything that is necessary for the environment to run the compiled executables and applications.

Now that we have gone through all the important bits of the code, let’s try our test_package. Although we already learned that the test_package is invoked when we call to conan create, you can also just create the test_package if you have already created the hello/1.0 package in the Conan cache. This is done with the conan test command:

$ conan test test_package hello/1.0


-------- test_package: Computing necessary packages --------
    fmt/8.1.1#cd132b054cf999f31bd2fd2424053ddc:ff7a496f48fca9a88dc478962881e015f4a5b98f#1d9bb4c015de50bcb4a338c07229b3bc - Cache
    hello/1.0#25e0b5c00ae41ef9fbfbbb1e5ac86e1e:fd7c4113dad406f7d8211b3470c16627b54ff3af#4ff3fd65a1d37b52436bf62ea6eaac04 - Cache
Test requirements
    gtest/1.11.0#d136b3379fdb29bdfe31404b916b29e1:656efb9d626073d4ffa0dda2cc8178bc408b1bee#ee8cbd2bf32d1c89e553bdd9d5606127 - Skip


[ 50%] Building CXX object CMakeFiles/example.dir/src/example.cpp.o
[100%] Linking CXX executable example
[100%] Built target example

-------- Testing the package: Running test() --------
hello/1.0 (test package): Running test()
hello/1.0 (test package): RUN: ./example
hello/1.0: Hello World Release! (with color!)

As you can see in the output, our test_package builds successfully testing that the hello/1.0 Conan package can be consumed with no problem.

Read more

  • Test tool_requires packages