»User Guide
Text based document generation

AsciiDoc includes testasciidoc, a Python script runs a set of AsciiDoc conformance tests. testasciidoc runs through a list of AsciiDoc source files, generates backend outputs and then compares them to expected result files. The whole process is driven by a configuration file containing a list of user configurable test specifications.


When modifying AsciiDoc configuration files or source code it’s very easy to introduce regression errors. testasciidoc is a tool for writing many and varied test cases that can be run after changes have been made in order to verify that existing behavior has not been broken.

The testasciidoc update command automates the (re)generation of expected test result data. Result data regeneration has to be performed after changes to test case source files or after legitimate changes to the AsciiDoc output formats — doing this manually is prohibitively tedious.

Running testasciidoc

The testasciidoc.py script and the default testasciidoc.conf configuration file are located in the AsciiDoc distribution tests directory.

To view the command usage run:

$ python3 tests/testasciidoc.py
usage: testasciidoc.py [-h] [-v] [-f CONF_FILE] command ...

Run AsciiDoc conformance tests specified in configuration FILE.

positional arguments:
    list                List tests
    run                 Execute tests
    update              Regenerate and update test data

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --version         show program's version number and exit
  -f CONF_FILE, --conf-file CONF_FILE
                        Use configuration file CONF_FILE (default
                        configuration file is testasciidoc.conf in
                        testasciidoc.py directory)

To view the list of tests in the default testasciidoc.conf configuration file run the list command:

$ python tests/testasciidoc.py list
1: Test cases
2: Tables
3: Source highlighter
4: Example article
5: Example book
6: Example multi-part book
7: !User Guide

The ! prefix signals that a test is currently disabled.

Before running the tests you will need to regenerate the expected outputs by running the update command:

$ python tests/testasciidoc.py update
WRITING: tests/data/testcases-html4.html
WRITING: tests/data/testcases-xhtml11.html
WRITING: tests/data/testcases-docbook.xml
WRITING: tests/data/book-multi-docbook.xml

Now you can run the tests:

$ python tests/testasciidoc.py run
1: Test cases
SOURCE: asciidoc: tests/data/testcases.txt
PASSED: html4: tests/data/testcases-html4.html
PASSED: xhtml11: tests/data/testcases-xhtml11.html
PASSED: docbook: tests/data/testcases-docbook.xml
6: Example multi-part book
SOURCE: asciidoc: doc/book-multi.txt
PASSED: html4: tests/data/book-multi-html4.html
PASSED: xhtml11: tests/data/book-multi-xhtml11.html
PASSED: docbook: tests/data/book-multi-docbook.xml

  • testasciidoc requires AsciiDoc is located in your environment search path, if not you’ll need to set the ASCIIDOC_PY environment variable to point to asciidoc.py.

  • If you don’t have GNU source-highlight installed you should disable the Tables and Source highlighter tests in the tests/testasciidoc.conf configuration file.

  • The run and update commands both take optional --number and --backend options to specify a test case number and/or backend to test against. Use python3 tests/testasciidoc.py run --help for more information.

testasciidoc commands


List test numbers and titles. A ! title prefix signals that a test is currently disabled.


Read and execute tests from the test configuration file. A test specifies AsciiDoc test case source file and command options. The test compares generated outputs to expected outputs and any differences displayed as a diff. You can run selected tests by specifying the test number and/or backend after the run command. Examples:

python tests/testasciidoc.py run
python tests/testasciidoc.py run --number 3
python tests/testasciidoc.py run --backend html4
python tests/testasciidoc.py run --number 3 --backend html4

Generates and updates missing and out of date test output data files, this eliminates one of the most time consuming aspect of test management. Use the --force option to force updates. Examples:

python tests/testasciidoc.py update
python tests/testasciidoc.py update --number 4 --force
Note You can run or update disabled tests by explicitly specifying the test number.

Test configuration file

The tests configuration file format consists of one or more test specs separated by a line of one or more percent characters. Each test spec consists of an optional test title and description followed by one or more optional directives (a directive starts with a percent character). A directive consists begins with a line containing a % character followed by a directive name followed by zero or more lines of directive data.

Test spec format

Optional test title
Optional test description...

% name
Optional base output file name. Defaults to base source file name.

% requires
Optional external requirements necessary to run the test, e.g. dot.

% source
AsciiDoc source file name.

% backends
Optional list of backends to be tested(default is all backends).

% options
Optional list of command-line option tuples.

% attributes
Optional dictionary of attribute values.

% artifacts
Optional list of artifacts that get generated from test, and which
will get cleaned up.

Example test spec:

Example book

% options

% requires
['source-highlight', 'dot']

% attributes
# Exclude date from document footer.

% source
Tip Take a look at the default tests/testasciidoc.conf configuration file that comes with AsciiDoc.
  • Tests can be disabled by prefixing the test title with an exclamation ! character.

  • All relative file names are relative to the configuration file directory.

  • Multiple tests must by separated by a % separator line (one or more percent characters).

  • Lines starting with a percent character specify a test directive and may be followed by zero or more lines of directive data.

  • Directive data lines cannot start with a percent character.

  • Lines starting with a # hash character are ignored.

  • The source directive data is a single line containing the AsciiDoc source file name.

  • The options directive data is a Python list of (name,value) tuples specifying AsciiDoc command-line options. A string item is equivalent to a (name,None) tuple.

  • The attributes directive data specifies a Python dictionary containing AsciiDoc attributes to be passed to AsciiDoc.

  • The requires directive data specifies a Python list of strings which correspond to the command line program specified by filters in that test.

  • The artifacts directive data specifies a Python list of strings which corresponds to the list of files (usually image or other such files) that get generated when asciidoc is run over the input file. The files are deleted after the test is for a given source file is run for all backends.

globals directive

An optional globals directive can precede all test specs, the globals directive data is a Python dictionary containing global values. Currently the only global is datadir, the directory containing expected output files (defaults to configuration file directory). For example:

% globals
{'datadir': 'data'}

Expected output test data files are stored in the datadir and are named after the corresponding AsciiDoc input source file. For example if the AsciiDoc file name is article.txt then the corresponding backend output files will be article-html4.html, article-xhtml11.html, article-docbook.xml (stored in the datadir directory).